Lets have a moment of silence for all the sorry fucks committing to a low-fat, low-calorie, low-salt, cardio program this year. May God have mercy on your soul. No doubt they will be Rage-Quitting soon...again.
Every January swarms of resolution exercisers flood the gym, but disappear by March. People fail to follow through, despite sincerest intentions, because poor planning and torturous programs. Another year will pass without the wonders of strength potential realized. What a shame.
Here are 7 simple steps to locking in your “new year, new you” fit resolution - the Ancient Gains Way. This post is written in the context of powerlifting, but can be applied to any sport.
1. Focus on the compound lifts
Regardless of your skill level, Squat, Press and Deadlift are your biggest drivers of strength. “Compound” refers to multi-joint, full body movements that load the entire skeleton.
If you want to add in isolation lifts (biceps curls) or stationary machines, do them after your main lifts, as accessory work.
ps. if you're not confident with these lifts, send me a video. I can critique your form and coach you no matter where you are in the world. Form is everything in strength development.
2. Start conservatively
3-4 days a week is plenty. No need to go balls out and train hard every day, that might burn you out. Consistency is what matters. Pick your days and times to train and block that space out every week. Example: Monday/Wednesday/Friday – after work. Don’t plan anything during training time.
3. Keep a training journal
Pick up a medium sized notebook and organize your training on paper. Record details of your workout with dates, repetitions, sets and how you felt. Seeing your progress on paper will keep you motivated.
4. Write a SIMPLE program
You should know exactly what you will be doing before you walk through the gym doors. This eliminates guess work, procrastination and anxiety. Your lifts are predetermined and there's no thinking required, just doing. It shouldn’t be complicated.
Start with a weight that you can lift 10 times, but not 15 times, for 3-5 total sets. Each day of training, just add 5-10 pounds to the bar.
As the weight gets heavier, you will need to gradually decrease the repetitions from 10 to 8…then 6…then 4…then 2. This process, called “Peaking”, will take a month or so.
After peaking, restart your strength cycle back at 10 repetitions, with a weight slightly heavier then when you started with 10’s the month before.
This is Ed Coans exact programming. Ed is literally the greatest powerlifter of all time. He's also a really nice person. We love you Ed.
Beginning of cycle 1:
Beginning of cycle 2:
5. Use caffeine to get your ass moving
I’m not big on supplements but I do like caffeine. It’s safe and has been well researched for sport performance benefits. Strong coffee works great. My drink of choice is a tall iced americano. If I can't get coffee I use 200mg capsules. Sometimes it’s just the little nudge we need to get motivated.
6. Talk about it
Tell a bunch of people that you love and respect that you’re doing this. Tell co-workers, friends, family or post it on social media. Ask them to check up on you and hold you accountable. Knowing you have people rooting for you, and not wanting to let them down is a powerful motivator to do what you said you were going to do.
It's easy to let yourself down, heck I can even convince myself I never actually committed to something in the first place. "Eh, I didn't really wan't to do it anyway." But when you tell someone, your responsibility grows.
7. Buy cool new shit
Get a gym bag going. Invest in nice gear or tech fitness products that seem fun to use. New shoes, weight lifting belt, expensive headphones, heartrate monitors, NOSE TORK!, Perfect Amino. View these products as toys to be played with.
Bonus - Invest in coaching, it makes everything faster and easier. Time is money.
Is this year finally going to be the year you take your fitness to the next level? Are you finally going to get jacked? How do you plan to do it? What is the biggest barrier between you and your ideal health? Share in the comments, feel free to ask questions.
Thanks for reading and happy new year!
"Biceps are like ornaments on a Christmas tree" -Ed Coan