Everyone who trains is looking for something to give them an advantage, something to help them gain more return on their investment into training hard and eating correctly. People will put their money into supplements, clothing, training gear, and even those goofy “magnetic bracelets”. Unfortunately, many of those have a relatively crappy return for the amount of money people put into them. Here are three things you can start doing right away that will have an immediate impact on your training and will cost you little to no money.
Follow a Training Program Written by a Professional
If you had some strange sickness, you probably wouldn’t start performing tests on yourself to diagnose your sickness. Instead, you’d probably go see a doctor who has the education and experience to be able to properly help you get over your sickness. Likewise, a professional trainer who has the education and experience necessary to help you reach your goals is far more likely to get you the results you’re looking for faster than you could on your own. Does it cost a little money? Yes but money is something you can always make more of. You can never get back wasted time. Too many people come up with their own plan or follow a friend who has more experience than them. While I can appreciate seeking out the help of someone who has more experience, your friend only has experience training themselves. And what works for one person doesn’t always work the same for everyone.
How many Olympic athletes have coaches? Every single one of them. If the best and most experienced in the world rely on the help of a trained professional, you may want to consider a different approach than just showing up and winging it. One thing I am very proud of as a gym owner and trainer myself is that my entire staff has a coach they work with for training, nutrition, or both. It says something of the importance of having a coach when some of the best in the business utilize one as well.
Keep a Training Log
Ever notice how the kids who took notes in school also tended to make the better grades? Well, it works the same way in training. Keeping a training log allows you to better measure your future progress based off of your past. There is no way I could remember the weights I used on every set of every exercise week to week. Add on top of that warm up weights, different cues to improve the movement or muscle activation, notes on how you’re feeling, injuries, what weights to try next time, etc and that’s a lot of stuff to try to remember. A training log provides you the opportunity to make notes in the present that will allow you to look back into the past to make the best possible progress in the future. A couple things to take note of in your log are the following:
*Current training goals (examples: prepare for bodybuilding competition in October, prepare for powerlifting meet in December)
*Where in your current program you are (examples: 10 weeks out from show, Day 1/Week 3 of transmutation phase)
*Training Weights (examples: incline dumbbell bench press 50×12, 60×10, 70×8, 80×6, Deadlift 135×5, 225×5, 315×3, 405×3, 455x3x3)
*Future Training Weights and notes on the lift (examples: go up 5 from last time, focus on peak contraction, keep weight the same, set back and externally rotate more)
*General Notes (examples: didn’t get much sleep last night, feeling great, pain in right elbow)
Get a Training Partner(s)
If there is one thing that will help get you to the gym and push you when you’re not feeling up to it, it’s a training parter. Other than keeping you accountable for getting your training in and pushing yourself while doing so, having someone to share the journey with can be incredibly helpful, especially if you’re trying something new. However, make sure your training partners are a good match. You don’t want to waste time with a training partner who doesn’t show up or skips training regularly or who isn’t going to push you. In dating, one person is usually dating up and the other is usually dating down. Training partners are usually the same way. One person is usually a bit more experienced, stronger, in better shape, etc. Ideally you are paired with someone who’s weaknesses are your strengths and vice versa. Either way, make sure you have something to bring to the table, whether it’s your experience, knowledge, consistency, or attitude. It can be difficult to find a good fit for a training partner but when you do, it can make your progress accelerate even more.
If you aren’t currently utilizing these three strategies, I highly suggest you give them a shot and watch your progress skyrocket.