My Training Philosophy
I received an email today from a reader who was confused over my training methodology. He said that he had read over several of my recent articles—ones on Texas Volume Training, my hybrid system, and my few posts on high frequency strength training (including my “Ditillo-inspired” article)—and now he wasn’t sure how it was that he should train. He felt as if I was saying different things at different times throughout my articles, and that it didn’t make for a cohesive whole—those weren’t his exact words, but you get the drift.
After several emails back and forth throughout the morning and afternoon, I believe he now understands how he should be training based on his goals and his training experience. I’m not going to re-hash those email correspondences here, but what I would like to do is set the record straight on how I believe you should be training based on your experience, training time available, and goals.
I get quite a few emails throughout the month—usually from young men and some teenagers, though sometimes from guys my age or even older—asking me for workout programs. Most of these trainees have not been working out for any length of time, and they typically have vague goals such as “I want to be as big as possible while being really strong,” or the even more common (but far more horrendous) “I want to have a lot of muscle but be really cut.” (In the second instance, I would like to respond, “I don’t know what the hell ‘cut’ even is, so I’m not sure I can help you” but typically I refrain from doing so, and set out to provide some decent training information.)
If this is somewhat familiar to any of you reading this, then realize that the first thing you need to have is a clear goal. And, to be honest, I don’t have a problem if your goal is to be “really big and strong”—that’s a goal that is attainable. Of course, you don’t need a goal such as “having muscles and being cut.” If you’re new to lifting, you don’t need to attempt to “kill two birds with one stone.” In the lifting world, it’s always better to focus on one bird at a time.
For those of you starting out, what you need is a basic training program. Lift 3 days per week on a full-body program, and eat a lot of good protein, fats, and carbs. Focus on the basics—squat heavy stuff, pick heavy stuff off the ground, drag or carry odd objects, and do some heavy pressing.
It’s not rocket science.
My oldest son is 14 years old. He weighs about 180 pounds. He can squat over 300 pounds, deadlift over 300 pounds, and he bench presses 225 pounds—not bad numbers for a kid his age who has only been training hard for about 6 to 9 months. (Not to get off subject, but just to point out the sad state of affairs in strength training in America—most men who have been working out even longer than that aren’t capable of those lifts.) What does he do for training? He squats and bench presses twice per week, deadlifts once per week, and does some “odd lifts” on another day. Here’s a video of him deadlifting 294 recently with relative ease:
(I’m not going to get into any details of this kind of training for this post. I have plenty of articles here for you to read if you are in this boat.)
The Intermediate-to-Advanced Lifter
If you have built up a good degree of strength and/or muscle mass, then the rest of my articles and training programs are geared toward you. But the training methodology that you choose will be based on your goals and what you enjoy doing. And this second part—enjoyment—is really important. Training should not be a chore. It should be enjoyable and fun. (And for those of you who don’t think pain and hard work can be fun—sorry, something’s wrong with you!)
There are, of course, a few things that I think everyone should be doing, no matter which program of mine they choose. These things are:
- Training as frequently as possible
- Training with a moderate to high amount of volume
- For the most part, avoiding “momentary muscular failure” except toward the end of training sessions
- Squatting a lot
- Training with “strongman stuff”
- Did I say squatting a lot?
Outside of those few things, the training program you choose should be largely based on your goals and “picking your pleasure”.
Are you interested solely in the aesthetical aspects of training? In other words, do you want to look good naked? (Yes, bodybuilders, I’m talking about you.) If this is the case, you can’t go wrong with my “hybrid” training. I think it’s concepts are about as good as it gets when it comes to packing on muscle without necessarily packing on a lot of strength too.
Is your goal to have a lot of strength and power (with the muscle built more as a side effect of the training)? Then you should pick something along the lines of my “High Frequency Training for Strength and Power” or my “Texas Volume Training.” The Texas Volume Training is for lifters who prefer more a “Russian” approach (high frequency, high volume, lower intensity) while the “High Frequency Training” is for those who would prefer a more “Bulgarian” approach (high frequency, high intensity, lower volume). And I also have some articles on this blog—such as some in my “Ultimate Strength and Power” series—which take more of an “in between” approach with moderate volume, moderate intensity, and moderate frequency.
Training really doesn’t have to be that complicated, so, please, stop making it that way.