How frustrating is it when you work your ass off for weeks, months and maybe even years without seeing a ton of results? Remember those days when you could lift up a barbell and simply add more weight to it every time you workout? Yeah, it has been a while for me too. Of course, for progress to show there needs to be hard and high intensity work first, otherwise we can’t really complain about the lack of progress. But why is it that so many beginners make such progress while some guys who have been crushing it for years see so little?
In order for this blog to make sense we have to imagine that the guys and girls who we’re talking about here have their training, nutrition and recovery dialed in. It’s not as simple as just working your butt off and seeing results. That might be the case for the ”gifted” or ”talented” among us, but not for the majority. These 3 pillars are what hold our fitness up, increases progress but can also break our fitness down if not done right. For some of you out there who are not seeing the results but don’t have those 3 components dialed in, let’s start there first.
Why do beginners see so much progress?
There’s a very simple answer to this question and it starts with the ability to adjust. Your body is capable of adjusting to almost any and everything it goes through. Think about, when you’re warm, your body will start sweating to cool it down, when you feel ill, your body starts to heat up to make it a less comfortable place for germs and when you lift weights for the first time it will grow your muscles to become stronger.
Why does it become stronger? It’s just like the other 2 examples, your body will adjust when it doesn’t like something. By lifting weights you’re damaging and breaking down your muscles, obviously your body doesn’t enjoy that. What happens to avoid that next time? It starts to adjust by making the muscles stronger. In order to get stronger and grow muscles you need the right fuel (nutrition) and recovery (this is what we talked about earlier). Obviously, that doesn’t just happen overnight but you get the basics of it.
In simple terms, it’s just your body adjusting to a situation/state it doesn’t like to be in.
Why does progress slow down?
It all starts with diminishing returns. Diminishing returns basically means one of two things, one, you have to put in more work to see the same results. Two, you will start to see less results by doing the same amount of work. That is what happens with people who have been killing it in the gym for so long. You have to put in more energy, but you also have to keep your body guessing. Keep workouts varied and intense to see results.
Variation and intensity are the key to progress
Why does variation matter? It basically brings you back to the beginner’s stage, when your body doesn’t know what stimulus it is getting and remember that it doesn’t like to be stuck in that situation. So, what does it do? It will adjust itself to the stimulus it has just received.
Why is intensity important? In simple terms, intensity means doing what you’re capable of. Remember that it is already incredibly difficult to see progress when you’re an ”experienced” lifter. If you add not doing what you’re capable of, how can your body grow from that?
See it this way, if you’re capable of bench pressing 110 kilos for 10 reps but only do 6 reps at 100kg, what stimulus will the muscles get? Not something it will make adjustments for (remember adjusting is the key to progress). Another example, if I ask you to complete 100 push-ups in any amount of time, it might take you several hours to complete it, because there’s no rush. No pretend I ask you to do 100 push-ups as fast as you possibly can? That will make for a completely different stimulus, right? That is one way of increasing intensity.
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