Shocking, I know, but 100% true.
To get fit and strong, you do NOT need a gym.
You need proper guidance, a goal, and a clear path.
A gym doesn’t hurt, for sure, but it’s no guarantee for success, either. All too often you see people who’s only real, stated fitness-related goal is “I need to get to the gym more often.” If that were all you needed, the secretaries and janitors there would be walking, talking Greek statues! Not to mention a greater amount of the patrons there, as a cursory glance would show that most of them look like they’ve been stuck in shiny-machine-and-elliptical-bike purgatory (or Hell) for the past 5 to 10 years.
There is nothing magical about the gym that ensures any measure of results. The magic comes from following certain set-in-stone paths; paths that serve more as outlines that let you fill in the blanks.
1) Progressive overload + recovery = adaptation.
In laymen’s terms, do a little bit more/better work, recover from it, and the results will start to rear their heads. The key word here is “progressive overload” not “soul-crushing overload” whereby you barely leave your session under your own power after each workout. There’s a time and place for pushing the pedal to the metal, but you know…not EVERY time. Have the courage to not feel the need to prove yourself every workout, but rather to IMPROVE yourself. Improvement takes finesse, not duress.
2) It doesn’t matter how much work you can do – it matters how much work you can recover from.
You can – and should – work hard, but you won’t get far if you sleep 5 hours a night, eat like you’re trapped in a fast food restaurant, and are more stressed out than a turkey the night before Thanksgiving. Get to bed earlier, eat like an adult, and learn how to relax.
3) Two steps forward, one step back.
Everything in life is cyclical, and if it were as easy as “just keep doing more every time”, everybody would be bench pressing 2,000 lbs by now. The only way you’ll control nature is by obeying nature, and the nature of your body requires that you pull the reins on that wild stallion you call “go hard or go home” every once in a while. Once every three weeks, take it a little easier, leave a lot more gas in the tank, and ramp back up slowly but surely, then take ‘er easy again.
4) Leave a few reps in the tank.
Do you spend every last dime you earn? Do you drive your car until it sputters to a stop from a lack of gas? Do you eat until you can barely breathe? If you answered “yes” to these, you’re probably a mess. If not, ask yourself, Why not extend that same logic to my training? Make your life – and your gains – easier. Build yourself up instead of constantly breaking yourself down.
As easy as it would be to go on and on, these general guidelines will fit into any intelligently-written program and will help you to squeeze a helluva lot more out of it than another pair of knee wraps and an even heavier dose of smelling salts. Don’t trust me, just try it. In short order you’ll see what I mean.