2 things that are paramount to any successful training cycle; progressive overload and logging your lifts!
When you gradually increase the weight, reps and/or frequency in your strength training routine. This will challenge your physique and allow your muscle to become stronger.
Logging your lift
As simple as it sounds, tracking your lifts that you are performing in the gym. Grab a notebook and pen and write down every set, rep, weight, tempo and how it felt etc.
But why are these two things so important?
If you are following a strength training programme, whether your goal is to lose weight or build muscle, you will not be adequately progressing in the gym if you don’t implement these two things. You won’t see results if you are constantly doing the same thing over and over - i mean, that is the definition of insanity! And rightly so, what doesn’t challenge you will not change you. Each session you should be looking to improve on your last in some way. Whether that be the amount of weight that you are lifting, the same weight but for more reps or even the same weight and reps but at a better/ slower tempo allowing for your muscles to experience more time under tension that your last session. Essentially this is progressive overload and this way of training will ensure that you are constantly striving for more, pushing yourself and in doing so, your physique will follow. Just like the weights your lifting will improve, so will your body.
This is where the importance of logging your lifts comes in. Even if you have a really good memory, there is no way that you would accurately be able to remember the weight, reps, tempo and how a movement felt on every single exercise, the last time you performed that workout. It could be as far back as 2 weeks previous if you have a 2 week training cycle. Any form of improvement should be documented, however small, so logging your lifts is crucial in order to remember what you have to improve on. I also like to set myself little goals on reflection after my session, for next time. If a movement felt like you could increase the weight next time, then jot that down and action it next session!
This brings me on to where i am at with the above factors. As you guys know i have been suffering badly with a back injury but as of a week and a half ago Rob has given me the go ahead to go back to a lower, upper, rest, full body, rest, repeat training cycle (i was previously doing full body, rest, repeat, due to my injury). Whilst we are not yet back to normal training, i am just so happy to have a body part split back rather than just constant full body sessions. This means that I am back to logging my lifts and trying to VERY slowly progressively overload my lifts. When I was training full body around my injury I wasn’t looking to progressively overload as I needed to ensure the movements were ok for my back and just get a bit of blood flowing. Now I am going to strip back the weight and essentially start from scratch again and of course log my lifts along the way. I am not yet going to look back at my old log book to see what weight I used to be able to lift as right now that would probably just mentally throw me off. I’m using this as a clean slate to progress upon so using these 2 factors is crucial for me right now.