Ready to Get Strong? Here are the Gym Rules
I love to work out. I mean I am a total meat head. You would not realize it to look at me. I don’t have a physique like Adonis or anything. For a 40-year-old computer nerd I have more than above average strength. Maybe even for the average 40-year-old I might have above average strength. I will never be a pro. I love it, but it is not my sole focus and there is no way to compete with someone who has it as their sole purpose. I can say I have deadlifted 600 pounds and squatted 5oo, so I am doing okay. A lot of years and a lot of injuries occurred and worked through and I feel pretty good about myself. You didn’t come here for that, but I wanted to quantify that I may have a clue. I also read workout books (the kind they use for textbooks for people who study to be in the field) and articles written by much more qualified people on almost a daily basis. I love learning about this stuff!
I even do some private coaching/advising/consulting for some people who wish to grow stronger. Here are the basic rules that all gym goers should adhere to if they wish to get strong. No fluff, no fancy gimmicks, and no B.S. Just solid simple principles that make you strong.
1. Get your Warface on; you have to come with intent, or you will achieve nothing.
Throughout all my content I talk about being present and the gym is no different. You are not there to talk, play on your phone, take snaps for social media or hit on a cute gym bunny. Most things in life give back in equal amounts to what you invest, so be present. Turn on the “work out” mix, put the phone away and get to work. My friend asked me why I used a paper notebook for my work journal (you should use one) instead of doing it on my phone. The simple answer is that it is too easy to be distracted every time you touch your phone. There are no fancy things on my notebook pages, just lines to write down what I want to and a list of exercises I am doing that day. Be purposeful or you will fail before you start.
2. Leave it all on the floor. Everything you have
If you can finish your last rep, put your weights away (because we do that) then just walk out, you might have missed out. I am not advocating for grinding yourself into dust every time you lift as some people do. You should be breathing pretty hard and feeling a bit spent at the end. My water bottle is my first stop usually while I am sitting for a couple minutes; then I put my weights away. If you are following a good plan as you absolutely should be, then you should not have to wonder. If you do, you might have gone a little light. If you need a good plan and can’t afford a trainer that is okay too, head over to www.t-nation.com
3. Pick up heavy things. Repeat
Here is where it all started, when the very first man found something heavy and tried to move it, the quest for strength began. When he found something, he could move, and his buddy couldn’t it grew from there. There is nothing more truthful or simple if you want to get strong pick up heavy things and lift them. DO it over and over again. Repeat, that is how you get strong.
4. Keep it Simple Stupid (K.I.S.S.) Stick to the basics
K.I.S.S. is one of the simplest and truest things you will ever learn. I learned to embrace it in the military, and it has guided me ever since. It applies in many areas of life but none so true as trying to get strong. There is always a new fad, diet, device, or gimmick plaguing the fitness world. Most of them are completely worthless and a great waste of time and money. Most people fail to ever get strong because they try to make it complicated, stick to the basics. They will not ever fail you and have stood the test of time. Follow the rules
5. Pull more in Every Direction
You do not pull enough! Let’s just get that out of the way. Most people become obsessed with what are lovingly called “mirror muscles”, the more important ones are the ones you do not see. There is actually a prescribed ratio of 2 pulls in the same plane as your 1 push. This does not account for the overuse and stimulation of the said mirror muscles and the fact that our daily life and posture tends to wreck the “pull” muscles. These muscles are far more important to pay attention to than the ones you see. They play a big role in all over strength and health. You need to pull more, a lot more!
6. Get under the Bar Frequently
There is a King in the gym. Most people know it and even more people fear it. If you are new to the gym scene you must learn to pay homage. If you do it will reward you graciously. If you do not you are doomed to a lifetime of weakness. A little dramatic? No, the Squat is the King of all weighted exercise and for good reason. If I could do nothing else, I would squat and deadlift. Don’t just squat occasionally either. I squat minimally twice a week and sometimes more. Get the form down and you will grow strong under the harsh and cold master. It is truth, you can, or you cannot, it does not care what your excuse is. Do the work and you will be rewarded greatly, building a strong squat will build strength throughout your entire body. If it leaves you in pain do more, not less, add another session 2 days after the first. It will stop leaving you feeling broken with a little more volume.
If you really want a special kind of motivation, take up birthday squats. You body weight on the bar, your age in reps without putting it down. You can pause at the top as much as you need (if you are new to high volume squats you will get to 1 at a time quickly) You just can’t put it down and then start again, 1 rest pause set. Have a spotter and preferably a power rack. I do this every year for my birthday. This year I hit 240lbs for 40 reps, then laid on the ground for about 15 minutes trying to not hate life. It will help you stay focused on maintaining a health weight to strength ratio.