08 Jun Finding Your 10’s: A Practical Guide To Customizing Your Own Program For Max Results
In the Beginning...
Do you ever wonder how people learned to train before the internet? How they knew what to do without the latest and greatest training routine eBook or YouTube Videos? These are great resources... But honestly, what type of training would you do if none of it existed?
Let’s conduct a thought experiment. Imagine you are a brand new lifter and you just stumble into a room full of bars and weights with no one around to tell you what to do. No preconceived notion of body part splits versus full body routines, of isolation versus compound movements, no fear of over training - just the pure, unadulterated desire to lift metal plates up off the ground.
What would you do? Seriously think about this question for a few minutes before you continue on.
The Big Assumption
I’m going to make a big assumption to start this off. I’m going to assume most of you are just like me.
Just like me you were bit by the lifting bug and from that day on it’s been a major part of your life. Sometimes too much if we are being honest... And sometimes WAY too much if our girlfriends and wives are being honest.
Just like me you dove in whole hog and got your hands on as much info as you possibly could. There isn’t an article you haven’t read by Dave Tate, Dan John, Louis Simmons, Christian Thibaudeau, or countless other author-athletes who speak to our hearts, minds, and bulging biceps.
And just like me you are always in search of that perfect program. The one that has the perfect number of reps, the perfect number of sets, and the perfect exercise selection in the perfect order. The program that is going to have you hoisting tons of iron, shredding the sleeves off your shirts, and keeping you lean while doing it.
Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that I’m not going to be giving you any such program because the bottom line is that is just doesn’t exist. The good news is that you can get pretty damn close, but it’s going to be a long road and it’s going to take some work on your part.
My goal is to help you start down the road to develop what I now feel is the most important muscle of all, your “Intuitive Training Muscle.” Don’t worry. I know it sounds like a gimmick, but I assure you there is no special deal on my brand new, e-book only, complete system, now with special bonus offers but only if you act this month WHILE SUPPLIES LAST! It’s just the term I use to describe that feeling we all get when we have those moments in the gym when things seem to “click,” or when we figure out which exercises work or don’t work, or we tweak something to make it better for ourselves.
Develop this quality enough and you will eventually just know what to do in the gym for your unique goals on any given day. You will know when to add in an extra set, you will know when to take a deload week, and you will know when to just stay the hell home and watch reruns of Greys Anat... I mean Rambo and Conan.
Intuitive Training: How The Best Just “Know” What To Do
Did you ever see some big, strong guy doing a really weird exercise, or doing a regular exercise a really weird way? Or maybe you know guys who never do certain exercises that everyone just knows have to be done... right?
Have you ever run across a fellow lifter who says something like, “I pulled up to the gym that day and knew it wasn’t happening, so I just went home. Came back the next day and hit a PR deadlift.” Or it might have been, “I just go to the gym and train whatever needs to be trained that day. Today it’s legs, tomorrow we’ll see”?
As a young lifter who was usually following some kind of template or program, these kinds of statements used to shock me. Wait? You mean you didn’t train chest today? BUT IT’S MONDAY! KILL THE HERETIC!
Well, it’s no coincidence that these lifters are usually the most advanced, the strongest, and the most impressive specimens in the gym, even if it seems like they aren’t following a plan.
As it turns out, many of these lifters are following a plan. Their plan. It’s a plan that they have honed after years and years under the bar. They have eliminated the exercises and variables that don't work for them (“Zeros”) and found the exercises that give them the best results (“Tens”)
Years ago these guys and girls may have started out with a cookie cutter program, but more than likely it now bears no resemblance as they have tweaked it one step at a time so it’s now a program all their own. You can get there too, and in fact you will need to if you want to reach your highest potential in the Iron Game.
The Pitfalls Of Public Programming
Let’s face it, everyone has to start somewhere. Unlike the hapless newbie who stumbled into our thought experiment weight room, all of us have the advantage of having access to tons of training info from the best minds to ever lift a barbell. It makes sense to look at what other successful lifters have done and to follow in those footsteps, and that is where coaches and programs come in.
There are many, many great programs out there. Anyone who has been around long enough has heard of Starting Strength, 5/3/1, German Volume Training, or better yet our Very Own Mike Rashid programs like Conan Leg Training and Chest Assault.
These are all good places to start, but the major problem with any of these programs is that they are not written for you, they are written for everyone. That doesn't mean we can't use them as a starting point, but eventually we will have to tailor them to our abilities, needs, and knowledge of ourselves.
Any lifter who hopes to be the best that they can possibly be can’t do a routine that has everyone in mind; The program has to be specific. It has to take into account your specific goals, body mechanics, injuries, psychology, work capacity, and a host of other qualities that make you the lifter you are... And that is where you come in.
Next week we are going to cover the details about how to slowly work our way towards that perfect program. But until then I want you to be thinking about your own program, your own body, your own results and starting to piece all of this together for yourself.
What improvements have you made to a cookie cutter routine? What tweaks have you made to an exercise to spur new progress along? Share in the comments so we can check it out.