Sunday, August 18, 2019

The no-routine weight lifting routine

I think it is okay not having a definite goal in mind when you embark on a new activity. Sometimes, it can be a bit difficult to form a vision. In this case, attempting to force yourself to form a vision before you participate may take the fun out of the activity. You would be setting yourself a mental block instead of making progress in some form. Take health and fitness, for example. Telling yourself you will have a six-pack by beginning of summer or be able to run a mile under four minutes or improve your blood lipid profile.. forget all that.

You could do body part split weight training. Advanced bodybuilders take this even further training hamstrings one session and quads the other. Or you could train the whole body in a single session. So if you are just getting into weight lifting, how do you have fun with it? How do you maintain enthusiasm? If you are coming back from a long lay-off, are not sure which routine is best to get back into the game and this, in turn, is preventing you from showing up at the gym.. well, what do you do?

Be like a butterfly.. drift with the breeze.

I recommend the no-routine weight lifting routine. What you do here is not think in terms of whole-body training, split training, three times a week training, doing a different number of sets for compound lifts vs isolation lifts, morning training vs evening training, etc. To put it bluntly, you do not think at all. The only thing you know for sure is that you are going to expend a certain amount of energy by hitting all the muscles in your body when you get to it. That's it. Here are the relevant points:
  1. When you get a hankering to train.. to hit the weights, you drop whatever you are doing and you make your way to the gym. Ensure that you keep your mind a blank slate all the way to that first set of that first exercise. This is key. If you let your mind wander to something other than training.. money problems.. girlfriend problems.. its too hot or cold outside.. you might just decide to grab a bottle of beer, sink back into the recliner and watch YouTube videos instead.
  2. Once on the gym floor, start with any exercise.
  3. You are only going to do three sets per exercise. Yes, even for a big lift like the Dead-lift or the Squat.
  4. Keep repetitions high enough to get a good burn. This likely means lighter weights.
  5. Emphasis should be on strict technique and full range of movement on e.v.e.r.y exercise. This likely means lighter weights.
  6. Do the exercises in any order. None of this, "I will do the compound lifts first because they need the most energy and focus, which I will have at the beginning of the workout" crap. That does have value but not here. Absolutely no thoughts like that. You walk by the Leg Press machine and you feel like using it, you use it. You happen to glance over at the Dumbbell rack and you decide to do Bicep Curls, you do it.
  7. Use any implement. Use a barbell, dumbbell, cable, kettle-bell, etc.You amble over to the Lat Pull-down machine to hit the lats and someone else beats you to it. Ok, make a 15 degree turn and go do pull-ups on the assisted Pull-up machine.
  8. But en-route, you pass the Hack Squat machine. Aw shucks, should I do Hack Squats? Do it.
  9. Use your own body. Feel like doing push-ups? Drop down and give me.. as many push-ups as you can do.
  10. Rest time between sets? Just enough to catch your breath and/or set weight for the next set. Then you keep going like the energizer bunny. Continue keeping your mind a blank slate.
  11. If safe to do so, make the last set a drop set. For instance, drop sets can be safely done on an exercise like the Leg Curl or Side Laterals for the shoulders. But they may not be a good idea on an exercise like the Squat or Bench Press.
  12. Do as many exercises as you want. Heck, even do an exercise that you had already done earlier in the workout if you feel like it.
  13. Even if you had only lifted the day before.. go lift today if you feel like it. Do not let thoughts of over-training hold you back. It is difficult to over-train unless you have not been sleeping and/or eating well for weeks now. Otherwise, you are capable of expending a lot of effort.
  14. Conversely, if you had not lifted for three or four days, do not lose sleep over it. You will eventually get back into the gym. Just don't wait another week to get back into the gym. You do want to maintain a semblance of momentum or you risk losing whatever gains you have made. Or worse, you stop lifting altogether for weeks or months and start to regress.
Be like a butterfly chasing nectar. Move from flower to flower in any direction. Catch the breeze and let it carry you. Do not resist the breeze. Watch out for predators and chatty old men.