Updated: Jan 28
Training like Arnold, focusing on extreme exercise such as cross-fit, overdosing on H.I.I.T, being an ego-lifter, constantly bulking up, neglecting athleticism and functional strength, and avoiding low intensity cardio, are just some of the mistake exercise intermediates make on a regular basis. When you start exercising seriously it is important that you do the right things. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up for chronic injuries and spending many years training around the damage you have done by trying to do too much, too soon. An intermediate will have approximately 2-8 years of training experience through working out four times a week, reading magazines and copying social media stars and personal trainers. Even if you think you are not an intermediate (you probably are) read through the list and fix your workout regime.
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. Change the routine every 6 weeks by changing the order, slowing the tempo down more, resting slightly less etc.
2. Learn more anatomy eg the functions of each joint, muscle attachments and insertions. 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 3 and 5 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 2 and 4 times with a 60-90s rest period between them (1). Train intensely for no more than 60 minutes (including warm-up time) (2). 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 between 8 and 15 reps of each set. Perform no more than 15 sets per workout.
4. NEVER SKIP LEG DAY! Perform these movements at least twice a week: squat, deadlift, lunge, push up, pull up, overhead press, row, trunk rotation. Use compound exercises at least 90% of the time (Whaley 1990, pp. 58-60) (3). Perform compound exercises using barbells, dumbbells, rings, pull ups bars, swiss balls etc.
Want to stay up to date with out latest articles and recipes?
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. Choose the hardest variation of an exercise which you can perform at least 10 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. 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) (4) without spending too much time doing it. Don't static stretch before, during (5) or after exercise.
7. Use a 10-15 rep range. Use full range of motion at least 90% of the time unless injured and part of that movement pattern aggravates the injury.
8. Don't spend money on cool equipment or fancy supplements. Don't wear lifting belts. 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. Use the best technique you know 99-100% of the time.
9. Become and remain able to walk for 2 hours pain free. 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.
10. Target 1-3% improvement per workout (7). If not happening, rethink strategy eg 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.
11. Move in slow motion (minimum 4s per rep). Lower any resistance slowly and lift any resistance quickly and with full control (until you fully understand how and why changing this method from time to time is also beneficial for achieving your goals).
12. Perform intervals for cardio exercise. Understand how to perform cardio with correct techniques. Be as strict 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. 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 (8) e.g. slow and relaxing for mobility, fast and exciting for intense training. Make and update playlists regularly.
14. Don't forget where you started. Remain humble. Don't copy others especially those 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. A few bad reps can do serious damage but cannot suddenly lead to the achievement of your goals.
15. NEVER SKIP LEG DAY!
(3) Whaley, O 1990, HIGH SCHOOL PROGRAM: Use of compound and combination exercises in the training of athletes, Volume 12, Issue 1, Monument Valley, Utah.
Related post: 15 Exercise Rules For Beginners
Related post: 15 Exercise Rules For Experienced Athletes
Related post: The Marathon: Complete Or Run A Mile
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.