Monday 11 June 2012

Gaining momentum for great training gains

Picture yourself a year from now. Do you want to be leaner, stronger, more muscular, more athletic, feel better and/or move better than you do now? The fitness industry is full of quick-fix miracle solutions to get you there in a fraction of that time: "6 weeks to a bigger bench!", "3 weeks to a ripped 6-pack!", "Bigger arms in 4 weeks!", "feel the difference in 2 weeks!", etc.  Too many people (and I have done this more than virtually anyone reading this) make the mistake of starting a new "miracle" program, giving it all they have, making some initial quick gains and then hitting a wall far from their actual goal. If you have big goals or you are interested  in getting great results for the long haul, you need to start by getting some gaining momentum.

An illustration of gaining momentum is bike riding (especially appropriate with the tour-de France on right now). Let's say that as you are riding, you turn a sharp corner and there, staring you in the face, is a massive hill. To get up this hill, you have 2 choices: 1 is to start from a dead-stop at the bottom of the hill and try to grind your way up the hill or 2: back up and get some speed before you hit the hill. Obviously the second choice is the way to go.

When you start a training program with all the weight you can handle and push yourself to the limit, you often end up trying to progress faster than your body is capable of. While your body may go along with this for a short while, it will soon fall behind and progress will come to a screeching halt.

This concept is not new. I first learned about it when I was a teenage back in the 90's reading Stuart McRobert's classic book Brawn. However, I was too dumb back then to realize what a gem this information was. For decades before McRobert's book, the "old school" lifters would start with lighter weight and gradually build up to new personal records. Then, when progress started to stall, they would stop, take some weight off the bar (i.e. get some more gaining momentum) and then build up again with another productive training cycle.  After taking a few steps back and gaining some gaining momentum, you can take several steps forward. Simple, but very effective.

In training, quick fixes are only found in advertisements. If you are serious about making some big gains over the next year, take a few steps back, get some gaining momentum and then slowly and consistently move towards your goals. When you look back a year from now, you will be surprised at how far you have come.

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