You can easily look up a workout online that will help you achieve your athletic goals, but there are a few extremely important things you need to do to get the most out of any workout you follow.
These principles also helped me gain 35 pounds of muscle in 4 months during the summer after my sophomore year of college.
Like I said, these tips apply to any workout.
So whether you’re trying to jump higher or gain muscle, settle in and let’s get started.
Note: if you’re interested in jumping higher check out my workout page for specific training routines
The Five Golden Rules
Progressive overload is one of those terms that sounds like something a scientist would use, but it’s really a straightforward principle.
Here is the rule:
Each week, you need to add either more reps or more weight to each exercise during your workout.
For example, let’s say that you are doing squats and last week you did 3 sets at 10 reps of 120 pounds.
This week, you should do one of the following:
- 3 sets at 11 reps of 120 pounds
- 3 sets at 10 reps of 125 pounds
Notice how in the first option we added one more rep to each set while keeping the weight the same.
In the second option we added 5 more pounds while keeping the reps the same. You can choose either of these options.
I can’t emphasize enough how important this principle is to your success. I guarantee that the people you see in the gym every week who aren’t making progress are not adhering to this rule.
Forcing your body to do more work each week, even though it’s just a little bit, will force you to build muscle and blast through plateaus. You should try to do this for each exercise in your workout.
If you can’t add a rep or more weight it’s likely due to lacking nutritional resources, which brings me to my next principle…
This is very similar to progressive overload except that in this case we are applying it to our nutrition, and it’s a tip I figured out through my own training and lots of reading.
Note that the numbers I provide below may vary a bit between people, but the principle stays the same.
Here is how the rule works if you’re trying to add muscle to your body:
As you gain more muscle mass, you need to take in more calories in order to see continued growth
In my case, I like to follow the following pattern – for every 5 pounds of weight I gained I took in an additional 250 calories per day. This is what allowed me to add 35 pounds of muscle in 4 months.
Let’s say that I start out at 180 pounds on a 2000 calorie/day diet and I want to get up to 200 pounds.
In order to do that, you should be eating the following caloric quantities:
- 180 pounds – 2000 calories/day
- 185 pounds – 2250 calories/day
- 190 pounds – 2500 calories/day
- 195 pounds – 2750 calories/day
- 200 pounds – 3000 calories/day
The additional calories you take in will help support the mass you’re adding to your frame. If you were to keep your calories consistent it’s likely you will plateau in the gym.
I didn’t exactly count calories while doing this. It was more about getting a feel for how much I ate each day. You will get better at this with time.
Bear in mind that this rule mainly applies to people who are looking to gain muscle mass.
If you want to maintain your weight or even lose it, you’ll have to maintain your calories or decrease them, respectively.
Also, don’t just eat garbage food like McDonald’s in order to add calories. Focus on clean foods like fruits, vegetables, and protein from chicken, eggs, and lean beef.
This applies to every set and rep of every exercise you do. Here’s the rule:
Give 100% effort on every rep and set of every exercise
I know I basically just repeated myself, but this rule bears repeating. I see so many people working out and only giving it half effort.
These are the kinds of people who are going to go nowhere in their training.
Write Everything Down
One of the best things I started doing when I went to the gym was bringing a pen and paper with me.
Here is the rule I follow:
Write down every exercise, set, rep, and weight for every single workout
This will help you ensure that you are sticking to the progressive overload rule.
You might think that you’ll be able to remember how much weight you lifted or how many sets you did, but trust me, you’ll forget by the time a week rolls by.
When the margin for progress is only an additional few pounds or one extra rep you need to be precise in your tracking.
Before I started bringing a pen and paper with me to the gym it took me a very long time to realize that I was actually doing the exact same workout every week.
This was keeping me from making any progress with my training.
Remember, doing the exact same workout every week is not going to get you quick and measurable results. It’s only going to get you stuck on a plateau.
More Rest, More Results
A lot of people think that you need to workout every day to see good results.
I put that theory to rest when I gained 35 pounds of muscle only working out 3 days per week. Once again, here is the rule I follow:
Only workout a maximum of 4 days per week with at least one day of rest in between each workout
You’ll be amazed at how little time you need to spend in the gym to see amazing results.
Taking time off between workouts allows your body to recover and prepare itself for the next day. If you fail to do this it’s likely that you will experience overtraining.
Overtraining is usually accompanied by a loss in strength or energy. If you feel weak or if you’re in pain, take a break!
Feel free to do light aerobics or play a game of pickup basketball on your days off. You don’t have to sit on the couch.
I hope these rules have helped give you some idea of what it takes to really get good results out of your workout routine.
If you follow what I’ve taught you above I guarantee you will see better results than 95% of the people you see at the gym.
Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions.