If you want to learn the principles of an effective training program so you can make one for yourself, then continue reading on.
In the previous article, I showed you the details of my two transformations — from my lifting stats, to my diet, and to the supplements that I used. I also showed you the possibility that you can achieve the same transformation too even if you love certain foods, drink alcohol, and if you’re too busy to do daily workouts or if you hate cardio.
These were my results:
If you haven’t seen it yet, go to this link and don’t come back here until you’ve finished reading all of it. This is 4-part article series and it’s highly recommended to see the previous articles first to get the most out of everything that I teach.
And if you haven’t read any of them yet, here are the links to them:
Done reading? Let’s proceed.
Have you ever wondered why some training programs are effective and some are not?
Have you ever wondered why some training programs only work for a few, but fail for the many?
And have you ever wondered why you’re so “unlucky” that no matter what training program you do and no matter how hard you seem to try, you can’t produce even the slightest result?
I know you have, because I had.
I was in the same position back then, and it took me several years to snap out of these “wondering” moments and to realize that I wasn’t really “unlucky” — I was just not knowledgeable enough to find the missing pieces in my training program that will get me closer to my goals.
Even though I wasn’t born with good genetics when it comes to building muscle, the moment I found out the underlying principles of an effective training program which I’m about to teach you in this article, everything changed. I progressed at the fastest rate my body allowed and my life has never been the same.
So what is it exactly? Is there a secret?
I know there are probably thousands of workout programs out there already, but which one should you choose? Which one is effective?
These questions will all be answered in this article.
To get the most from whatever training program you choose, you must adhere to most (better if all) of these training principles. Doing otherwise only welcomes frustrations, disappointments, and wasted time, money, and effort.
*Take note. This refers to a training program specifically to build muscle and/or lose fat. This is not for a program to make you run faster, run longer, improve a specific skill, treat your STDs, etc. You get the point.
6 Principles Of An Effective Training Program
1. Progressive overload should be the number 1 focus
So what is progressive overload?
The progressive overload principle basically states: In order for a muscle to grow, strength to be gained, performance to increase, or for any similar improvement to occur, the human body must be forced to adapt to a tension that is above and beyond what it has previously experienced.
This should be the number 1 focus of all training programs — I mean all!
If your workout program doesn’t have this goal, then you’re guaranteed to fail for the rest of your gym life.
Even worse, if your workout program’s goal is just to make you sweat, or to get your body beat up and tired, then you should ditch that program ASAP and find a new one.
An effective training program should take you from point A to point B.
Add 50lbs to your bench press.
Do 10 more reps on your deadlift.
Increase workout capacity by doing more workout volume.
These are just a few.
You may ask, “but my goal is increasing my arm size by 2 inches!“
I know, I know. That is why the examples above should be our metrics, and our main focus. Those are the things that we should be measuring to ensure that we’re getting closer to our goals, which is to build a good-looking physique.
“But why is that? I don’t really care about how much I lift. I only care about building muscles.“
I understand, but you really can’t separate muscle size and muscle strength — this is because muscle is a byproduct of strength. Do you want to add inches to your arms? Then add 50lbs to your barbell curls and do more reps and see what happens to your arms.
This should be the reason we’re doing weight training. It’s not just lifting weights for the sake of lifting and sweating; it’s about breaking the muscle fibers down, allowing them to adapt, then giving them time to rest and recover so they can come back bigger and stronger. You can’t do these if you’re not progressively increasing the weights that you lift.
So ask yourself, “Am I lifting heavier weights today than the previous month? Or even the previous week?” If not, make the necessary adjustments.
A mistake that most people do is just add more sets, more exercises, do drop sets, forced reps, and other complicated stuff rather than focusing on the most important factor for building muscle — progressive overload.
Remember the phrase, “If you don’t get stronger, you won’t get bigger.“
Hint: This is why a program that focuses on muscle confusion rarely works. Why? If you keep confusing your muscles by switching your workouts weekly, how will you know if you’re gaining strength on each exercise? The goal is to make the muscles bigger by making them stronger, not by confusing them.
2. Good form should always be practiced
An effective training program focuses on practicing good form on all exercises. Again, I mean all.
Form should always precede weight, because a heavy weight doesn’t really mean a thing if you’re not targeting the muscles properly.
It’s still quite surprising though that a lot of people sacrifice form just to lift heavier weights, and the only reason I can think of is “ego lifting.“
These people lift for the purpose of impressing themselves or other people, not because they want to stimulate their muscles.
Don’t get me wrong. I know it feels really good to lift a lot of weight that we forget that it’s not the main purpose (unless you’re a powerlifter). What I am saying is, if your goal is to stimulate strength and size, then doing proper form is a must.
Let me get clearer on this:
Following the principle of progressive overload, you can’t say that you’ve gotten stronger if you’re lifting heavier weights yet your form gets poorer and poorer. Not only you’re getting yourself at the high risk of being injured, but you’re only wasting time because you’re not stimulating the muscles with the use of proper form.
I’d say stop ego lifting. Lower your weights by about 10% and do your reps in a controlled manner. Use a full range of motion. Feel the targeted muscle.
This is why whenever I teach someone online, I make sure that they’re doing the exercises correctly by asking them to send videos to me. I also send them lots of resources for them to really hammer the exercise execution. No wonder they get amazing results training with me.
3. Should focus on the key exercises
A good training program focuses on the money exercises.
In the ebooks that I publish, I label these exercises “The Big 5.”
These exercises are:
Deadlift – works the whole back from neck to toe
Bench Press – works the chest, front shoulders, triceps,
Overhead Press or Military Press – works the front and side delts, upper chest, triceps and core muscles
Pull-ups or Chin-ups – works the lats, middle back, rear shoulders, biceps, and core
Squats – works the entire legs, glutes, lower back, and mid back
And all their variations.
These exercises are called “money exercises” because they stimulate a lot of muscle fibers in the body. If you’re going to pick only 5 exercises, these are the ones that you should choose, and I guarantee you, you will build muscle and strength and you will look fantastic!
Almost all the great workout programs I know use these exercises as their main ones like Starting Strength, Madcow’s 5×5, and Leangains. Others have substitutes for each, but they still follow the almost the same movements.
Now, if you’re not physically capable of doing any of these exercises, you can find an alternative that closely mimics these ones. The closer the better. For example, for the pull-ups, you can just do lat pulldowns instead if you’re not yet strong enough to do proper body weight pull-ups.
4. Weight should be heavy enough to stimulate muscle growth and strength
A good training program focuses on muscle stimulation, not just the pump, although a lot of trainees do the latter.
They focus so much on the feel and the pump that they forget that their main goal is to trigger the body’s growth mechanism into motion — and you do this by lifting at/around a certain effort.
As stated in my program, the quantity of effort or the number of repetitions in an exercise is not as important as their opposites. When we’re trying to build muscle and lose fat — it’s the intensity and quality of the effort that truly counts.
If a person can bench press 200lbs for 10 reps without that much exertion on his part, do you think that would induce a substantial gain in strength and size? Maybe.
But like we’ve said, for the muscles to grow the fastest, you have to force them to grow. The intensity and quality of effort go hand in hand with the principle of progressive overload. Your goal is not just to add weight to your exercises, but to make sure that the weight you select will require you to produce the required intensity to stimulate muscle growth.
In this case, 200lbs for 10 easy reps won’t cut it. Maybe add another 10lbs, 15lbs, or 20lbs more?
Training hard is what is required to force muscle adaptations.
5. Should have a proper balance of volume and frequency based on your individual recovery ability and training level
Okay, so you now have goals for your training program:
– To keep getting stronger because that’s what makes muscles grow
– To use proper form to stimulate the targeted muscles and not any other muscles
– To do the key exercises and their variations to ensure muscle growth to overall parts of the body
– To exert enough effort to stimulate muscle adaptations
The next question is, how exactly will you do that?
This section covers these questions:
How many times a week should you train?
How many sets should you do?
These factors largely determine whether you will achieve progressive overload or not, or if you will achieve it faster or slower. This is why this is super important.
Before we continue, we have to take note of these:
Training too frequently will result to slow or no progress.
Training too infrequently will result to slow or no progress.
Performing too many sets will result to slow or no progress.
Performing too little sets will result to slow or no progress.
Why does training too frequently and doing too many sets result to slow or no progress? That’s because we only possess limited recovery abilities, like what I’ve discussed here. Our body can only handle so much, and the more we train beyond our limits, the deeper the hole we dig and the longer the time we need to recover.
Why does training too infrequently and doing too little sets will result to slow or no progress? Because you need a minimum amount of volume and frequency to stimulate the muscles. If you do 1 set every 2 weeks, obviously you’re not going to grow.
So if you’ve been doing a program for quite some time now and you haven’t seen any substantial results, take a look at these factors:
- You’re not applying progressive overload
- You’re training too frequently
- You’re training with too many sets and exercises
Most often it’s the last two — training too often and with too many sets and exercises. These waste your time and effort and kills your progress in the gym while you’re left feeling burnout.
If you don’t believe me, try doing more. Double or even triple your sets and exercises and report to me your progress. If you’re training 3x a week, try training 6x a week and add more sets and exercises and see if it accelerates your results. Some can handle that of a big jump, but I’m quite sure a lot won’t. The mistake here is thinking that the more you do, the more you kill yourself, the better your results will be. Wrong.
The people you see that have been training 6-7 days a week with good results, they didn’t start with that, they worked on that. They have progressively increased their workout capacity to handle progressively increasing volume and frequency.
With that said, the key thing here is finding your optimal training volume and frequency for your body. The keyword is you. Because you have different recovery abilities, you have a different capacity in handling stress, and you have a different training level.
So how would you know what’s “optimal” for you? By trial and error. What I mean by trial and error here is not quite as difficult as you might have thought. The only thing you need to do is use the minimal number of sets and exercises that will produce maximum results, and progress from there.
6. Should teach you how to program your own training based on your needs
A good and effective training program(this can also be applied to a good training coach or instructor) doesn’t just give you the routine, but should also teach you how to craft your own based on your individual needs and preference.
The best example I can give is those fitness instructors that only give a list of exercises to their clients, then just instruct them to follow the “templates” they provided. Then after the end of their contract, maybe around 12-16 weeks, the client finished without really knowing what happened. Maybe he got results or not, but that’s not the point.
The client should’ve learned a lot from the process. He should’ve been taught the reasons why he did this and that, and why the instructor thinks that what they did was the best way. If the client didn’t learn in that 3-4 months, obviously, it’s more money for the instructors since the client can just pay more for another coaching cycle.
Of course, this is a bad example, but this can always happen.
A good training program, whether given by an instructor or whether bought or read on the internet, should teach you more about the principles behind what makes that program effective, and less about the workout routine itself. This is because the routine is just a tiny fraction of the whole program.
This is the reason why I don’t write “workout routines” alone. I prefer to write a whole “program,” a book you could say, so I can teach all the important elements that make the routine work.
This is also why whenever someone goes to my FB page and ask me for a “workout routine,” I always ask them to read my articles first, and read them all.
Remember, anyone is capable of giving a workout routine to someone and tell them that it is effective. But again, that would depend if the person giving and receiving knows all the underlying principles that make a training program super effective.
So my simple advice to all of you:
Pick a program, not a workout routine. Pick something that has long explanations on how and why you should do the stuff they’re recommending, rather than a long list of exercises and sets that you should do. I guarantee you, the time that you will invest in reading and learning will all be worth it.
That’s it, guys.
It’s been awesome sharing all this information and seeing the excitement and results. I’ve been getting great comments and I love the interaction and community these articles have created.
I know these free articles have already made a big impact on many people who have been reading, maybe it’s even helped you.
Now if you’re interested in taking this and your transformation to the next level, I’ve put together a training program that covers all the elements that we’ve discussed above and all the things we’ve talked about in the previous articles.
I know some of you are still a bit confused on how to set up your own training and nutrition program where you can enjoy your life and achieve the fastest results, and this is why I created this amazing product.
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Here are a couple of guys who have gone through the program:
I’ll be opening the program on January 3, 2019, but then we’ll have to close registration on January 10, 2019. Minimalist Fitness and all the bonuses will be available only for 7 days, then it will be closed again. Strictly no extensions.
My next post will be all about the details of the upcoming Minimalist Fitness program plus all the bonuses included and how you can get started… so look for that post in the email or in the FB group very soon.
But in the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts about the things you’ve learned over the past few days. What will you do with this information? Scroll down and leave a comment for me. I’ve been reading every comment and responding to dozens of them and I would love to hear from you.
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