Updated: Jan 28
Training like Arnold (1), overdosing on extreme exercise like cross-fit (2) and H.I.I.T, avoiding low intensity cardio, ego-lifting, constantly bulking, neglecting athleticism and functional strength are just some of the mistake exercise even very experienced coaches, athletes and gym-goers make on a regular basis. When you consistently train at a high level it is important that you do the right things (as there is less margin for error) otherwise you are setting yourself up for chronic injuries and many years training around the damage you have done by trying to push too hard without an appropriately deep level of awareness. An advanced exerciser will have been training three or four times a week for approximately 8 or more years, reading magazines, copying social media stars and personal trainers, they may likely be social media stars and personal trainers. Even if you think you are too advanced to benefit from reading an article, look through the list to see if you stumble upon something new or simply use it to refresh your memory.
1. Have specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-framed short (1-2 week), medium (2 week-6 month) and long term goals (6 month+). Track everything using a pad of paper or notes on your phone or an app.
2. Learn advanced anatomy e.g. as many muscles, bones, joints as you can. Follow hard science when you train to avoid randomness at all costs. Use mirrors for technical and honest feedback when exercising in a controlled environment. Use videos and photos of yourself training to further knowledge and refine postures and exercises.
3. Train between 2 and 4 times a week unless you are definitely unable to. Listen to your body, if you are tired back off, if you are ok continue as you are but don't increase frequency. Perform most exercises between 1 and 10 times with an appropriately selected rest period between them. Train intensely for no more than 75 minutes (including warm-up time). Don't sit down if you don't have to. Don't talk to others unless you are training with them and doing the same thing. Achieve complete muscular exhaustion almost all of the time when training hard. Perform no more than 25 sets per workout.
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4. NEVER SKIP LEG DAY! (3) Perform these movements at least twice a week: squat, deadlift, lunge, push up, pull up, overhead press, row, trunk rotation (4). Use compound exercises at least 90% of the time. Perform compound exercises using barbells, dumbbells, rings, pull ups bars, swiss balls etc.
5. Don't lift with your ego i.e. use a weight or choose a variation you cannot fully control e.g. unstable at the bottom of a squat or unable to straighten your arms on the way down during a pull up. Lower any resistance slowly and lift any resistance quickly and with full control 90% of the time. Choose the hardest variation of an exercise which you can perform at least 5 times with full range of motion. Most of the girls you are trying to impress don't understand the difference between 10kg and the weight that you know is too heavy for you that will destroy your body and very likely embarrass you when you can't move it properly.
6. Be extremely patient. Make minute adjustments to the routine every two or three sessions. Focus on a balanced mix of cardio and sport (ones featured in the Olympic Games), light resistance, heavy resistance, yoga and feldenkrais. Use self myofascial release (smr) (5) without spending much time doing it. Don't static stretch before, during or after exercise.
7. Use all rep ranges but be extremely cautious when pushed close to exhaustion in fewer than 6 reps rep range. Use full range of motion more than 85% of the time unless injured and part of that movement pattern aggravates the injury.
8. Don't wear lifting belts unless you perform regularly unbelted core stability training at least twice a week and/or are training for an exercise performance-based career and are following all or almost all of the rules listed here. Learn and perfect techniques such as valsalva manoeuvre for heavy lifting. Use the best technique training techniques you know 99-100% of the time.
9. Don't wear too many layers and sweat unnecessarily. Don't wear too few layers and become cold. Be barefoot (6) as much as possible unless you are in an environment which has health and safety rules or dangerous or dirty materials underfoot.
10. Become and remain able to walk for 2 hours pain free (7). Walk faster for longer periods of time everyday without tiring out prior to an intense workout, exciting your nervous system before sleep, going so quickly that you injure yourself, leaving too little time and energy for important tasks eg work, social, food, sleep. Keep your heart rate at or below 180-age (when not training hard) for safe and easy fat burning.
11. Target 1-3% improvement per workout. If not happening, rethink strategy e.g. rest more often and/or for longer and more effectively. Use 1-3% rule, clothes, consistent tape measurements, weighing scales and body fat caliper readings, photos, consistent high-tech full body analysis machines readings, and general awareness to measure progress instead of focusing on bodyweight or comments from others.
12. Perform intervals for cardio exercise. Be as strict with your cardio as you are for weight or resistance training. Sprint slightly uphill. Don't run downhill or heel strike. Don't run more than 10km regularly unless you have to (8). If heart rate moves above 180-age for more than 15 minutes, limit that bout of exercise to 60 minutes. Do not train again that day.
13. Use music to appropriately and effectively increase and decrease intensity as well as improve enjoyment eg slow and relaxing for mobility, fast and exciting for intense training. Make and update playlists regularly.
14. Don't expend energy preaching to others or helping others unless they specifically come to your for help. Don't forget where you started. Remain humble. Don't copy others especially most of the ones lifting heavy weights, moving quickly, or on social media. Learn from an experienced trainer whom you trust and is passionate about the long-term. Practice what they recommend. 1 bad rep can do serious damage but cannot suddenly lead to the achievement of your goals.
15. NEVER SKIP LEG DAY!
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Co-founder of 'The Evolved Way', and experienced personal trainer, Samson practices what he preaches. His own healthy lifestyle, which informs this site, is based on understanding the right way to eat and exercise, not excluding of course going out and enjoying life knowing you can still feel and look good.
John Maitland is the co-founder of 'The Evolved Way.’ A personal trainer with over 10 years’ experience, he has worked alongside a wide range of leading CEOs, entrepreneurs and medical professionals. John is a keen athlete and holds a black belt in Shaolin Kung fu. A fan of the great outdoors, he can often be found exploring the British countryside and mountains...or breaking pine boards with his fingers.