True Strength Plans Ahead

You wouldn't take a test without studying the subject matter. When a meeting's called at work, you make sure you're able to answer any question about your responsibilities that might come up. Preparation is an important part of anyone's success, whatever situation they find themselves facing. It's no different with a trip to the gym.

The easiest way to prevent yourself from achieving a physical performance goal is to subject yourself to random acts of training. The lady who never does anything except jog on the treadmill while watching TV soap operas. The guy who determines the order of his exercises based solely on weight machine availability. They're training randomly, unlike the kid who's always carrying a journal that he fills with notes between exercises.

The only way to figure out what works and doesn't work for your particular physique is to track your progress, or lack thereof. If that sounds like too much trouble, let's put this simple task in perspective with a goal. Would you think you'd have more success in upping your bench if you: A) Tried to lift the heaviest poundage possible every time you attempt the exercise, or B) start out with a weight that lets you perform 6 to 8 reps for 3 sets and methodically adding a pair of 1 pound plates at the start of each week. After 6 months, that strategy will up your bench by 48 pounds. It's what bodybuilders refer to as progressive resistance. Think you'd be pushing nearly 50 pounds more following Plan A? Doubtful, since it's really not much of a plan at all.

Okay, so Step 2 is mapping out a strategy. What's Step 1? Determining your goal the reason you signed up for a gym membership in the first place. Let yourself imagine the end result you hope to attain. Now figure out how long it will take to get there. Be realistic, knowing that nothing happens overnight. This isn't as daunting a challenge as it might seem.
If your goal is to pack on 10 pounds of muscle. Multiply your current body weight by 16 calories per pound. Then do the same calculation using 18 calories per pound. Your daily caloric intake should stay in this range for about a month. If you're packing on weight so fast your waistline's expanding, drop a couple hundred calories from your daily meal plan. Conversely, those who aren't seeing any results should add a couple hundred calories. Here's how it works out for a 175 pound weight lifter.

Calorie Intake
175 x 16 calories = 2800 Calories/Day
175 x 18 calories = 3150 Calories/Day

Now let's divide those calories into macronutrients by multiplying your body weight by 1 gram of protein, 2 grams of carbohydrates and gram of fat per day. Here's what the formula looks like.

Macronutrient Breakdown
175 x 1 Gram of Protein = 175 Grams/Day
175 x 2.5 Grams of Carbohydrates = 437 Grams/Day
175 x .25 Grams of Fat = 43 Grams/Day

Here again, you should review and adjust these figures month-to-month as needed. That's what your training journal is for! It'll also come in handy for workout planning, which happens to be the next piece of the knowledge puzzle.

Because your muscles need about 48 hours to completely recover from a session of resistance training, it makes sense to divide your weekly workouts into upper body and lower body days. Start the week working legs and abs, take a day off from lifting for aerobic training, then head back into the gym for upper body work. When your week is completely planned out, it might look something like this:

Take Friday off and start back at it on Saturday, following this four-day plan for a couple of months. Then it'll probably be time to take out the training journal, evaluate your progress and plan out a whole new routine. You can dial your nutrition up or down, change your lifting program from upper/lower body to pulling/pushing exercises, whatever you think will get you that much closer to meeting your overall goal. Once you get there you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you successfully broadened your expertise while building muscle mass.
Leave a Comment
Jun 17, 2010
Billy S.
Jun 17, 2010
Great article, ON. I would also like to add that a training journal allows you to record certain observations in the gym. For example, last night I was doing 1-handed Cable Pulldowns as my vertical pull and felt a slight pain in my non-working side. I concluded that I need to maintain tension on my non-working side as well. If people think they can remember something like that without a training journal - good luck.
Jun 18, 2010
Good article, Quite informative
gaven kingery
Jun 18, 2010
you're tellin me to bike or run after a brutal leg day?! lol
Martin S (aka Windman)
Jun 27, 2010
To the guy who laughs about running a day after leg workouts, it has always worked for me and seems to reduce the stiffness and occasional pain that I had before running/blading/biking. Don't knock it until you've tried it