What’s the Best Way to Get Better at Absolutely Everything Physical

I can’t tell you the number of times someone has asked me “Hey bro, what’s the best exercises for (insert body part here)?” The downside is they’re looking for a 10 second answer that is going to validate their way of training and make them want to get their swole on with whatever version of bicep curls or new angle of holding their 10 pound dumbells while doing their flyes that I’m presumably going to recommend to them. Now I’d love nothing more than to say that there’s one ideal exercise for shoulder external rotation/medialis development/buttwiping capabilities, but unfortunately (or fortunately for those considering this), there’s more than one road leading to Oz.

Whatever exercise program you decide to do, it’s important to remember that it has a “Best Before” date associated with it, and that after a while you’ll need to toss it out like some spoiled milk. Any exercise you do consistently for extended periods of time will eventually produced limited benefits for you with any increase in workload (a concept commonly called a plateau), but if you stick with it for even longer, you can actually wind up getting worse at performing said exercise!! It’s ridiculously important to switch your workout program up on a regular basis. Does this mean you have to do something different in each and every workout? No. A different way of performing the same exercises each workout? No. Do I like to ask myself a question and then provide an answer because I already know it and just want to sound superior? Apparently.

So let’s say you’re Johnny Bench Press and you’ve started every workout sesh with some flat bench and now you can’t raise your arms over your head, or actually touch your elbows to your sides. What the hell, right? You look good. You get all the ladies checkin out your swole on the daily.


But lately your big lifts have been going down. What gives!!?!?? Maybe it’s the fact that you have an imbalance between your shoulder pressing muscles and the pulling muscles (Note: most upper body programs should focus more on pulling movements than pressing movements in a 2:1 ratio, and for those with any type of shoulder issues, it should be closer to 4:1). Maybe it’s because your legs only get a workout when getting up and down off the toilet, and your legs are just as important to bench press strength as any upper body muscles (Did I just blow your ind?? Your welcome). Maybe it’s because you lift in a collared shift, while wearing shorty-shorts.Maybe it’s because you decided to do all your lifting while wearing a weight belt. . Loose. For every single exercise.

When was the last time you switched up your workouts?? Einstein said it best: “Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.” He also said “Hey, the chicks are going to really dig this new hairstyle.” He was wrong about that though.

Typically, any workout program can only produce noticeable results for up to three months before it needs to have some sort variation applied. Plus, doing the same thing over and over may become boring after a while, so it keeps you jacked up to continue training when you know something new is coming down the pike. Conversely, if you change your workout up every time, you’re not really focusing on anything specific, and the results you’re going to get are not going to be very focused or specific. If you want to increase your deadlift weight, doing balance work won’t help you very much, except to promote joint stability in those who need it. Deadlifting will make your deadlifts heavier. On that note, blasting through a 400 rep workout with a broomstick will only make you look like a Crossfit clown who thinks they have bullet proof technique because they saw a video on the WOD and are now an expert on lifting technique.

Apparently rhabdomyelosis is a sort of Nirvana for douchebags.

By never focusing on anything, your gains are going to be sub-par at best. Focused training means performing the activities and movements that will impact the progress you’re expecting to make, with appropriate loads (getting stronger means lifting max weight with 6 reps or less, bigger means 6-15 reps, and faster means, well, moving quicker with less load). If you’re looking for weight loss, that’s going to come from caloric burn and diet. Stick with a workout that focuses on specific improvements and try to make yourself accountable to your progress. Don’t just walk into the gym thinking “Well, today might be a 150 pound bench press day, but I’m not sure. I wonder what I did last time?” Keep a record of your lifts so you know how much you need to throw on the bar in order to keep yourself jacked and tanned.

A great resource that will give you the specificity and accountability you need in your workout programs is Show and Go, authored by Eric Cressey.

This is a program designed for anyone, not just fitness professionals. It’s written in specific enough language that you get an idea of how smart the guy is, but also explains things easily so that you know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. It’s easy to bring with you to the gym, and has a huge library of exercise videos so you can see how the movements are performed, and for those who have drank the Apple Kool Aid, you can upload the workouts and videos onto your iPod or iPad to bring with you. This program gives you the consistency and appropriate variations that will make you get stronger, leaner, and more…..uh…. toned-er? Yes it’s a word. Shut up!

For a more comprehensive professional model, I can’t say enough about BodyByBoyle online.

I mentioned this last week, and then something amazing happened.

The man, the myth, the legend, Mike Boyle himself, READ MY BLOG!!! He then proceeded to share my comments about how gloriously cool and this product is all over his other sites!!! I can’t tell you how amazing it is that someone you look up to is actually giving you a shout out on their sites.

This site gives people who train clients or even those who are truly bat-shit crazy about fitness the chance to see and steal dozens of pre-made programs, complete with video demos, explanations from the man himself, and the ability to custom-build your own programs from a library of every exercise you could imagine.

So the moral of the story: Workout consistently with a goal in mind. Stick with a program for at LEAST a few weeks to see noticeable progress. Switch it up when you want to work on something else, or when your gains start to stall (you’ll see this with a workout journal where you can record your lifts, weights, etc, and see if you’re making progress or not). Any program you do will get you results, IF it focuses on specific adaptation to imposed demands, and NOT if it focuses on non-existent terms like “muscle confusion.”



About deansomerset

Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Post-Rehab Specialist, personal trainer and probably the coolest guy my mom knows, I try to impart a little knowledge with a sense of humor to keep people reading. I've always thought if it's something that can grab your attention, you're gonna remember it tomorrow!!
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2 Responses to What’s the Best Way to Get Better at Absolutely Everything Physical

  1. deansomerset says:

    OHHHH SNAP!!! The NSCA just laid down a serious amount of smack on P90X with this piece posted to their Facebook page:

  2. drivefs2010 says:

    Everyone wants what’s creative. If it looks cool, they’ll do it. It’s rare to find someone who will be satisfied with knowing that basic pushes and pulls from the upper and lower body will produce the best results. The more complicated it looks, the more people think it’ll do for them beyond what they can do for themselves. Variety is important, and I guess because it’s such a part of everday life, (different tv show topics, radio show topics, different food) people think constant variety should apply to everything. Tony Gentilcore says it the best: “Tony, don’t you get tired of eating the same thing everyday.” “Um, don’t you get tired of not having a six-pack everyday.”

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