There is an overabundance of fitness and nutrition plans out there - many of which are available for free on the internet. Unfortunately, having so many options can cause a novice lifter more harm than good. Which program should I try? How often do I need to change plans? Which nutrition plan goes with which exercise routine? These are just a few of the questions that I hear from clients all the time, and with new 'breaking research' coming out in every monthly edition of Flex magazine, it's no wonder people aren't sure what to do.
To help anyone interested in building their own best body determine what's important versus what's asinine, I've outlined my top three tips on building an awesome physique below.
1) Nothing matters as much as your foundation of nutrition, hydration, and sleep. If these basic components aren't optimized, your results will be seriously undermined. A majority of novice to intermediate weight lifters in a gym are making this mistake every day. They've either been doing the exact same program with the exact same amount of weight for years without paying any attention to these variables, or they bounce around from one routine to the next every time they read about a new 'perfect program'. I've personally been a victim of this second mistake, and I know firsthand how frustrating it is to feel like you're putting your all into the latest and greatest routine, but getting virtually no results. Of all my periods of greatest progress as a bodybuilder, I can confidently say that a majority of them came from addressing one of these basic components.
2) When it comes to training, three things are more important than anything else: Form, Focus, and Intensity of effort. The type of program you follow is almost secondary to these points. Yes, there is an optimal plan for everyone, but if your form is off you aren't technically doing the same exercises or providing the same stimulus for your body. Likewise, if your mind is wandering or you're just going through the motions of your program you won't be nearly as successful as if you are mentally engaged in every rep, contracting your muscles hard and reminding yourself why you are there and what you're trying to accomplish. And, of course, if you train with maximum intensity for every set of every workout, you will be amazed at how fast you can improve your physique. So long as your routine hits all the major muscle groups intensely (with some compound exercises) and provides adequate recovery periods, mastering these three points will make the difference in where you will be a month or a year from now.
3) Consistency is your greatest tool for success. Bodybuilding is an endurance sport. No, you don't have to run marathons to get into top shape, but you will have to be consistent for months and years if you want to truly realize your potential. So many people get stuck thinking they are doing everything they can without results, not realizing that they are in fact only getting half of their workouts and meals in until I have them start keeping training/nutrition journals. We all have a tendency to remember our good behavior a lot more clearly than our bad behavior. Start by keeping a journal and really holding yourself accountable to getting all your meals and all your workouts in. If you're not actually following a program you have no way of gauging whether or not it's working for you, but if you build good habits and follow these tips for months and years (not days and weeks) you will be shocked by the ways you can transform your body! Be patient and give your body the time it needs to realize the changes you seek!