Whenever you want to break down the walls and expand outward, you need to be able to recognize that those walls are there for a reason: to weed out the uninitiated and the unprepared.
When you step into the weight room for the first time, the world seems like a mountain without any paths. After a month, you find a path. Around six months, the trail starts to open up, and you can start to walk more quickly. At a year, you may discover that, not only are their many other paths, but they intertwine, giving you hundreds of options. Unless you were born a surfer, a soccer player, a ballerina, or a more healthy human, your fitness journey will most likely begin in the conventional weight room. If this sounds like you, then we began the same way.
In the beginning of my first year, I simply tried to explore the impact the gym could have on my life as a whole. I was sixteen, overweight, and very upset with the way I looked whenever I took my shirt off. So when I set foot in the gym, I simply tried to push my physical endurance and mental strength until I couldn't push anymore. I was running towards a goal up the only path I knew, until I began to look for guidance from trainers. Like most people in the corporate fitness industry, my first trainer was passionate and accommodating, but did not look very far beyond the traditional resistance and weight training regiment. Here’s EXACTLY what my first intermediate program looked like after about 16 months of working out at least 3-4 times per week:
- Military presses…. 4 sets of 20.
- Standing side laterals…. 4 sets of 15.
- Standing barbell front raises…. 4 sets of 15.
- Rear lateral machine…. 4 sets of 15.
- Barbell curls…. 4 sets of 15.
- Seated alternating dumbbell curls…. 4 sets of 20.
- Standing cable EZ curls…. 4 sets of 20.
- Concentration curls (your way)
- Leg extensions…. 4 sets of 20.
- Smith Machine squats (ass to the floor)…. 4 sets of 15.
- Leg presses…. 3 sets of 20.
- Lunges…. 4 sets of 40 steps (20 up – 20 back).
- Standing toe raises… 3 sets of 20.
- Seated toe raises…. 3 sets of 20.
- Single Leg Lying Glute …. 4 sets of 30 each leg.
Wednesday: REST DAY
- Flat bench machine presses…. 4 sets of 20.
- Incline dumbbell presses…. 4 sets of 15.
- Cable cross over…. 4 sets of 20.
- Incline Hammer Strength…. 4 sets of 12.
- Standing rope pull downs…. 4 sets of 20.
- Skull crushers…. 4 sets of 15.
- Machine Overhead extensions…. 4 sets of 15
- Straight bar push downs…. 4 sets of 20.
- Barbell Rows…. 4 sets of 15.
- Seated Rows…. 4 sets of 15.
- Wide grip pull downs…. 4 sets of 15.
- One arm supported machine row…. 4 sets of 15.
- Lat stretch… 4 sets of 30 second holds each side.
- Barbell shrugs…. 4 sets of 20
1) Hamstrings & Inner thighs
- Barbell stiff leg dead lifts…. 4 sets of 20.
- Lying leg curls…. 4 sets of 20.
- Standing single leg curls…. 4 sets of 15.
- Adductor Machine…. 4 sets of 50.
- Floor crunches…. 4 sets of 50.
- Hanging leg raises…. 4 sets of 20.
- Squeezing exercises…. 4 sets of 30 second holds.
Sunday: REST DAY
This is, by all accounts, a very ambitious routine. Probably too ambitious for someone with the skill level I had when I took it on, but just the same I pushed through this routine for a very sore 6 weeks.
For any hardcore lifters or “gym rats” (guilty as charged) out there, this may seem like an incredibly solid program. It covers every muscle group effectively, while incorporating a healthy combination of weighted exercises. However, the first thing anyone trying to get into the gym for the first time or as a beginner is, without question, the time commitment.
Realistically, these workouts took me between 90 minutes and 2 hours every day. For ANYONE but a gym rat like me, this is not how you want to be spending that time. The exercises are un-compelling for anyone who may have goals beyond developing aesthetics, and while they are effective, they’re just plain boring! With this workout, you’ll see some growth, but it is limited by several key factors. Let’s break them down:
- Nothing But Weights and Machines comprise several days of this workout. This consistency of using external weights as opposed to your own body (the original dumbbell) will not only encourage serious wear and tear, but they will also cause your muscles to grow in a way that is severely less dynamic than using less machines and more natural movements. A day of chest and triceps is always a good time for lifters, but if we through in some cardio or calisthenics , the chores of lifting would not only be more engaging, but more beneficial!
- Undefined Rest Periods are the bane of an effective workout. When I was presented this plan, I immediately asked what kind of rest periods would be most effective. The answer I got was vague and unhelpful: “Trust your gut. You may need 3 minutes, you may need 30 seconds. As soon as you feel able to continue, get back at it.” This is what I like to call “Meathead jargon”. What he SHOULD HAVE SAID was, it’s important to listen to your body’s biological queues. Our fleshy forms have a wonderful system of checks and balances to ensure success, but we can easily mistake our natural resistance to hard labor with a more serious issue, especially in the beginning of a lifelong fitness journey (That being said, we always put our money where our mouth is. If I feel I can’t do a lift, I still wont do it. Even the strongest athletes respect their limits.)
- Stretching is one of the cornerstones of any routine. Whether you are lifting weights, swimming, running, or manipulating your own bodyweight, you should finish ALL workouts with at least 5-10 minutes of Be sure to incorporate full body stretches into the end of any routine, even if it’s a focused on one or two muscle groups. Your body doesn’t grow one muscle at a time, it’s flexibility shouldn’t develop one piece at a time either.
- The number of reps prescribed has a very key cause-and effect relationship with the type of results you’ll receive when weightlifting. If you are doing heavier weight at lower repitions (2-6 reps per set) your lift is being optimized for muscular strength and hypertrophy (a science word for increased muscle size). At higher rep-ranges (12-15, 15-20 reps) the activity becomes geared toward endurance and definition, and should always be done with lower and more manageable weight. In this specific workout program, you see all the days are achingly stacked with extremely high repetition workouts, guaranteed to leave your body in a state of great distress from a growth imbalance. Without allowing your body to cultivate strength and endurance interchangeably, you are not allowing your body to achieve it’s full potential.
- Static training is exercise which isolates specific joints for focused workouts. During a static movement, your joints don’t move in order Not only are these the most prevalent forms of training in mainstream fitness, but they are THE ONLY movements included in this workout.
This is normal… and people who are new to fitness are influenced by a more corporate culture to ensure that they achieve one main goal in their workout. While it is absolutely critical to identify your goals in any type of exercise, you should not limit yourself to one goal. Here in the jungle, you need to be a jack of all trades if you want to survive. The main objective of fitness is to enable higher levels of function. In whatever you do, however you choose to do it, your body should be a tool of the mind to accomplish impossible feats. Whether it’s climbing mountaintops, swinging from vines, or reconnecting with the forces of our environment through movement, in any way we choose, it’s up to our fitness lifestyles to be prepared.
This is where we come in:
The world really is enormous, and with its people so spread out, different groups have developed many different takes on fitness, and we're here to help you to connect with all of them. What are your goals? What are your needs? What have you always dreamed of doing?