Secrets of Muscle Success – Part 1
Do you ever wonder why some people are able to grow muscle or get strong or get in shape and some despite the fact that they are training, just don’t?
Is it just genetics, luck, or some secret supplement?
While these are often the rationalized answers, they just aren’t right. It’s true some people are genetically gifted, but that doesn’t explain it. I believe that in fact almost everyone is genetically gifted at something at least to some degree. Yeah you may not squat like Ed Coan or have hand strength like Dennis Rogers or endurance like Lance Armstrong, but here’s what I mean:
Dennis isn’t going to out-squat Ed in this lifetime. Neither is Ed going to out-bike Lance and Lance’s arm would be broken if he arm wrestled Dennis. No one is gifted at everything and no one is totally deficient at everything either. Everyone will have something that they have good/average or the right muscle structure for. It may take some doing to find your natural gifts and the real key is unlocking them once you do find them.
What does that mean?
Lance has the genetic structure for biking, but he also consistently worked harder at it than almost everyone else in the world. Ed could lift well when he first walked into the gym but it was the backbreaking work that made him world champion. Dennis started with strong hands, but the work is what made him pound-for-pound the world’s strongest man at his personal feats.
It’s amazing how these we regard as the most gifted are almost always the ones who work the hardest at the very thing we think they are gifted for. Hard work unlocks potential you didn’t know you had. Neither did my three examples know when they first started that they would go on to dominate their sport. Who knows what might be waiting inside you to be unlocked?
Even if you’re not playing to your genetic strength I believe you still can’t use genetics as an excuse for not succeeding. Yes it may/will make it harder to start and succeed in whatever that area may be, but it can still be done. There are many examples of people succeeding despite lack of natural advantages, for too many to use it as a valid excuse. There are also plenty of genetically gifted people that don’t make progress or ultimately succeed physically so if it isn’t how your born (for the most part) then what is it?
The newest routine or secret knowledge or most probably the supplements right?
That’s definitely what our society has come to believe and are being sold, but there are millions of people out there taking those supplements and still not getting the job done. So that isn’t the answer either.
In reality the reasons people don’t make progress may be nearly as vast as the amount of people out there trying. The point of this article is to give you some insight into some of the underlying reasons and secrets that will spur you on to real gains.
Here is the first in this series of articles:
1. Know what you’re doing and get good at it.
This applies to both your clarity of goals and purpose and also to having a strong knowledge of how to achieve them and the specific exercises that you are going to do along the way. These four clarifications separate 99% of the success in the exercise world. Most people that don’t make gains simply don’t have them. I’ve talked about some of this before, but it’s true and bears repeating.
I want to get bigger/stronger/faster is just a notion. I’m going to move my squat from 300 to 400 is a goal. I’m going to move my bodywveight from 200 to 210, or my arms from 17″ to 18″ is a goal. Similar specificity is needed for fitness, weight loss, competition, etc. Purpose should if possible have the same clear focus, the more clear it is the more lasting and powerful your motivation.
Knowing what you want to do and why is the real first step. Knowing how is the next. It is not enough to say, “I’m going to get stronger by lifting weight.” Maybe if you’re a rank beginner that’s a start, but even in the hardcore strength world people often don’t really understand the basic principles of strength or training. That’s why I write books and produce DVDs. To teach the real how’s and why’s of training. The stronger your understanding the better your progress. It’s that simple.
This brings us to the real point of this particular tip – Knowing how to do the particular exercises once you’ve settled the what, why and the program of how. Actually understanding how to do the squat or whatever exercise will take you to your goal. Successful lifters/trainers actually know how to do the lifts. How to stand, breathe, move, hold every part of the body and/or the bar. They practice it all the time, even after they are experts, and then continue learning the nuances their whole career.
That doesn’t mean you can’t learn to do any exercise well enough to progress on it toward your goal fairly quickly – you can. It takes knowledgeable instruction, but for most people and trainers that is to say the least lacking. True progress doesn’t come with mindless practice. Understanding what you are doing and constantly practice doing it correctly separates progress from none.
That doesn’t mean even good lifters won’t make mistakes or occasionally do something sloppy. Hey it happens. What it means is that there is always more to a movement than what is on the surface. The more you practice it the more you understand its depth. The more strength you gain not just from technical proficiency but actual muscle/strength/fitness gain as well as increased power from focus, emotional investment and all of your being unifying into the progress.
Here’s an example – Let’s take Lifter “A” and Lifter “B” who are twins.
Lifter “A” comes to the gym to squat (or press, swing, snatch or condition, whatever the case may be). He sort of knows what he’s doing and a “personal trainer,” showed him how once, plus he saw in on FitTV and you know of course his “Uncle Bob,” used to squat 1,000 pounds in his basement in New Jersey back in the ’70’s. His feet don’t always hit the same stance, the bar sits in a different place on his back on every set and he can’t quite remember how deep to go or how much weight he did last week. His sets and reps change because he’s “training instinctually.” Two years from now he’ll still be squatting the same 135 and complaining about how he doesn’t have good genes.
Lifter “B” is still relatively new to hardcore training, but he’s past the “I’ll die from this,” stage. He found a real lifter to train with, someone who actually knows how to do the squat, every nuance and why they are important. Taught him how, adjusted his form for his personal structure and goals. Forced him to practice doing the exercise perfectly with exactly the same body placement, stance, bar position, depth, etc., on every set of every rep.
He bought a DVD entitled, “How to Squat 900lbs.” or something like that from some crazy bald guy on the Internet. Then he bought an accompanying book. They explained how important all this stuff is and how to do it right.
He knows exactly how much he did last week and will duplicate that effort this week only with ten more pounds on the bar. He’s beginning to know what it is to work hard and he’s beginning to get his whole being unified behind his efforts.
Even though they are twins and started with the same structure and 135lb lift – in two years lifter “B” will squat 400 pounds. Will he have somehow become magically genetically gifted over his brother? No, he will have just tapped into the power of knowing what you’re doing and why and actually getting good at his particular set of exercises. He’ll succeed but his brother won’t. Can you see the illustrated difference?
Which will you be?