Secrets to Training

TAGS: strength goals, training protocols, deadlifts, increasing strength, iron game, squats, matt rhodes

Lately, I’ve been doing something that I rarely do. I’ve been reading fitness/training websites. Don’t get me wrong—I do my fair share of reading to see if there’s anything worth it out there. Most of the time, there isn’t. I know the trend is to come up with some fancy training protocol, new fad diet, or new fangled way to set up your rep scheme to garner the optimal results.

One website, in particular, has two to three articles on squatting and two to three articles on deadlifting all in the past two weeks or so. One of those articles claims that it has “the secret’ to squatting or deadlifting or adding more muscle to your frame. Whatever the goal, this “new” article has the real answer.

As you may be able to tell, this is a rant of sorts. The reality is there isn't any secret out there. Everything you need to know about squatting, deadlifting, benching, getting bigger, or whatever your goal has already been found. The trouble is no one wants to admit that they just need to put in the work. The magic pill is consistency, effort, and time. Lots and lots of all three.

If you don’t get results in three months, keep training. What about a year of training? Not long enough. The great thing about weight lifting is that it’s a life-long pursuit. Goals may change. Your ability to train will change because of time constraints, injuries, work responsibilities, and you name it. What you should do is just keep rolling with the punches and adapt to what life throws at you. It’s OK if you don’t train four days per week. It’s OK if your training template is spread out over eight or even ten days! Crazy to think, right? It doesn’t really matter. As long as you’re consistent, you put in the time, and you give the effort, you’ll make great progress.

The secret to squatting—squat

  1. Squeeze your shoulders together tightly and squeeze the bar with your hands.
  2. Push your hips back to start (this will put the weight on your heels).
  3. Once you push your hips back, bend your knees and sit down.
  4. Stand back up.

What happens if every rep isn’t perfect? Who cares? As long as it’s pretty good, it’s fine. When you do any kind of rep work, form will break down. That’s OK. As long as you keep yourself in pretty good position, you’re fine.

So what’s “the secret” to building a big squat? What assistance exercises should you do? Squat. Really. That’s the answer. Get really good at squatting and I bet your squat goes up. Call me crazy.

The secret to deadlifting—deadlift

  1. Get your feet underneath your hips and your hands outside your legs.
  2. Set your hips in about a quarter squat position.
  3. Keep your back arched (tight).
  4. Stand up.

The deadlift is a little more difficult with form, but it’s still very simple. Deadlift a lot and I bet your pull will go up. Crazy?!

The secret to staying lean—eat clean

I know there are some great diet plans out there to help you stay lean and build muscle. I’ve had exceptional success just eating. Seriously. I just eat. When I feel “fat,” I cut out ice cream, excess carbs, and fried foods. Well, not really,  I just don’t eat as much of that stuff. And I drink water. A lot of it. The one thing that I think really does make a difference is getting in a lot of protein. Again, this isn't any secret, is it? We all know this already. So why are you all searching for the next best craze? We already have all the answers. It’s way more simple than we make it out to be.

The only time I’ll make an exception to my rule is if I'm getting ready to step on stage. Bodybuilding and figure competitions take a special kind of diet. If you just want to look good naked, it’s really easy. Stop overcomplicating things. Be consistent, give effort, be patient, and it’ll all happen. Don’t make something that’s really simple any harder than it has to be. We all have jobs, families, other hobbies (I hope!), and things that get in the way of optimal training. This stuff is too fun to make it so complicated.

If you find yourself spinning your wheels and overwhelmed with ridiculous information on the internet, take a step back. If you like a certain diet plan or training method, follow it. But don’t change anything. Don’t add or subtract and try to make it your own. Follow the damn thing if you choose to follow something. If you want to follow your own ideas, like I do, come up with a set of rules and stick to them. You only need to follow two to three rules.

Here’s “the secret” to my training and eating

Training rules

  1. Warm up and stretch
  2. Focus on the main strength movement (squat, bench, deadlift, and press)
  3. Body build
  4. Condition (push this if you want to be leaner)

Eating rules

  1. Consume your body weight in grams of protein per day
  2. Eat less if you want to lose weight/eat more if you want to gain weight
  3. Cut out sugar and fried foods if feeling fat
  4. Drink a lot of water

When I get overwhelmed with things, this is what I usually fall back on without even realizing it. I believe we all know the answers already, especially if we’ve spent any kind of time around the weight room. We just need to believe in what we already know and put it to work.

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