by Greg Sushinsky
1. Get on a good, general workout. There are plenty of good routines, basic or otherwise, which you can use to make progress. Most of these are neither deep secrets nor are highly innovative, but are those which have produced good results for many drug-free trainers when applied with reasonable effort. A routine doesn’t have to be perfect, ideal, or the ultimate routine to work. It simply has to be good to be productive.
2. Begin! Start if you haven’t, start again if you’ve stopped. Reading, studying, thinking and planning about working out can be good, but sometimes, it’s just procrastination in disguise. “After I straighten out my (fill in the blank with anything) in two (weeks, months, years), I’ll start working out (again).” We’ve all gone through this; there are legitimate things in life that prevent working out, then there are excuses. You have to be your own judge of this. Sometimes, if you just begin (or return) to your workouts, other problems will take care of themselves and you’ll figure out what you need in training as you go along.
3. Know what you are training for (objectives, goals). Most times, it’s better to have, at least eventually, some idea of why you’re hitting the gym for these workouts. Goals, objectives, reasons–call them anything you like, but if, as an example, you know you want to gain ten pounds in six weeks, this energizes your training and gives you something to shoot for, keeps you focused, rather than the vague, “Gee, I guess I’ll work out today.” Strong desires and motivations help immensely in bodybuilding, or training for any purpose, and are far superior to drifting.
4. Train consistently, regularly. Many will say when they hear or read this, “I already know that. Tell me something about training I don’t know.” Yet often these people don’t train consistently enough or regularly enough, something which for all but the most gifted, is essential to progress. This consistent, regular approach to training sometimes requires several years to reach goals. Doing this, not just knowing this, is what’s required.
5. Train hard but wisely. Use your intelligence when you train. If you have nagging injuries or low energy, don’t take a super-hard workout. Back off, go lighter, do less, or rest completely. Don’t struggle with poundages which are beyond you to handle at your current strength level. Beware of following a professional’s workout, or training so hard that you can’t recover or, even worse, you injure yourself. Common sense is essential for longevity and success in bodybuilding, so use your head and train with appropriate effort, not a killing effort, for what you are trying to do.
6. Know what to leave out of your training. Sometimes knowing what not to do is much more difficult than what to do. Leaving out unproductive exercises, or certain principles and techniques, may sometimes be what you need to improve your training. Leaving stuff that never works for you out of your workouts is a positive principle, not a negative one.
7. See nutrition as part of your training, not something apart (and vice versa). Many will say, “nutrition is the most important aspect of bodybuilding” (some have said it’s the least), or will assign percentage values to its importance. It’s better to see nutrition & training as allied, married, inextricably together, partners which instead of twin masters, are two connecting pathways to help you arrive at your bodybuilding destination. Otherwise, you’re like the centerfielder in baseball who only cares about his hitting, not his fielding, or vice versa. Bodybuilding has two major components for participants: training and nutrition. Excel at both.
8. Individualize your training. There are many good, general workouts to select which will be
appropriate for any stage of your training. As good as these may be, the workouts that are always the best, the most result producing, are the ones which may begin as a template but which you eventually modify, adapt and change so they become even more suited to you. The best workouts are the ones which become your own.
9. Learn and apply what you know and learn. Some people train without learning very much about what they are doing. In bodybuilding, you better have been born a virtuoso with enormous genetic potential if you are to have any success with that approach. Others learn quite a bit, yet never seem to apply or understand what to do or when they need to apply what they learn. You can always learn more; you can always learn to apply more of what you learn to your bodybuilding.
10. Experiment and change. Some people never seem to develop a consistent way of working out. Others slavishly stick to the same routines, nutrition, even when they are getting little or no results. In the days before drugs, years ago, all training was essentially experimental. The pioneers of bodybuilding from the Muscle Beach days and before were basically inventing the sport, the training, nutrition and everything else as they went along. They were creative and they learned. Learn, try new things. Experiment with workouts, exercises, techniques, sets and reps–you may come up with something that uniquely benefits you. You may even come up with something new and creative that contributes to better bodybuilding for everyone.