biceps are nice and all, but let’s be honest—when we see someone in the gym
lifting huge weights and showing off their raw power, it’s much more
impressive. As a girl, I may appear unassuming in the gym, but that all changes
when I get under the weight. At 5’9” and 155lbs my personal records include a
150lb shoulder press, a 215lb bench press, a 285lb squat, and a 340lb deadlift.
Sure, I may not be the strongest person there—but the looks on some of the guys
faces when I outlift them is priceless.
numbers I put up aren’t reason enough to take in all the wisdom I’m about to
drop on you—I should say I’ve only gotten this far by training consistently for
over ten years and by having had
three different strength coaches in that time. Sometimes it pays to listen to
the advice of someone who’s more experienced than yourself, and even now I
still learn a lot from more seasoned athletes. Before we go any further, it
goes without saying that you should get cleared for physical exercise by a
medical professional. Did you do that? Oh, okay, then let’s continue.
four key elements to being successful in strength training, or really any
1. Lifting smart
2. Eating smart
A lot of you
might think ‘lifting smart? Doesn’t
she mean “lifting hard?”’ Today, a
lot of people give it their all in the gym, but there are still enormous
differences in individual results, so what gives? Well, it’s because a lot of
you are putting in effort, but not doing it in a very smart, productive way. Going
balls-to-the-wall every session without any exercise structure, periodization,
tempo, or proper form is a recipe for stagnation—or even injury. Fix this
immediately by a) finding a workout template online or getting a coach, b) changing
your rep and set ranges, as well as your exercises, c) changing your tempo—the
pace of your reps, and d) being totally neurotic about using proper form.
plenty of great strength training workout templates, including 5x5, 5/3/1, the Candito training programs, and my favorite—the Bulgarian style of training. Bulgarian training is
completely unlike the others mentioned. It involves lifting every day…. the
exact same exercises…working up to a one-rep max. Whaaat?! It may sound crazy, but myself and many others who have
actually given it a chance have seen phenomenal results following that training
style. I would NOT recommend it to complete novices though, since I’d suspect
it would lead to muscular imbalances if you hadn’t already built an excellent
foundation of overall strength.
lots of different ways to do the Bulgarian method, with people even making
their own iterations of it, like Bulgarian lite. I, however, am a purist and
use the following template, which is how I think it could best be performed by
performed every day (choose one of each):
exercise: shoulder press/bench press/incline press/push-press/decline press
exercise: pull-up/chin-up/barbell row/T-bar row/DB row/lateral pull/Deadlift
back squat/front squat/power clean/lunges/Romanian deadlift
just say you chose shoulder press, T-bar row, and front squat. Your workout
would look something like this:
press 50%x10, 60%x6, 70%x4, 80%x2,
T-bar row 50%x10, 60%x6, 70%x4, 80%x2, 90%x1,
Front squat 50%x10, 60%x6, 70%x4, 80%x2, 90%x1,
percentages are of your one-rep-max (ex. If your max squat is 300lbs then 50%
of that is 150lbs).
intensity and frequency is so high, warming up and cooling down are way, way
more important. Seriously, I’m not playing around here—do your stretching or
you’ll regret it. ‘But Victoria, how do I stretch properly?’ Oh, I’m so glad
you asked! I’m not going to pretend this is the law or anything, but your warm
up and cool down should collectively be about as long as the workout itself.
1-hour workout = 1-hour warm up/cool down.
the right way:
First, take a
hot bath or do some light cardio to get some blood in the muscles. Then do
10-15 minutes of dynamic stretching followed by 10-15 minutes of band
work. Make sure you take each movement slow—don’t think ‘I need to do 10 reps
of knee raises so I’m just going to pump these out as fast as possible’ because
that makes doing them worthless. This isn’t technically part of the warm up but
make sure you execute each exercise slowly and with perfect precision so you
can stay injury-free.
the right way:
finished hitting PRs (personal records) on each lift and you’re totally burnt.
As you start walking out of the gym that little voice in the back of your head
says ‘but wait anonymous person! Remember what Victoria said? We have to do
cool downs, so no matter how badly you want
to be a lazy fool and skimp your cool downs, we have to do them anyway!’
You huff and walk back into the stretching area of the gym, realizing how silly
you were for almost forgetting. Okay, all joking aside, cooling down is
actually a lot easier than warming up. Do a round of static stretching, massage or roll out your legs and back, and THEN you
can go home. There, get in a cold bath or shower, then take an NSAID or CBD oil to
any desire for a part II, where I cover diet then I’ll write that. I may write
it anyway just for fun, but it’s not on my immediate to-do list. I hope anyone
reading this got something from it and feels inspired to give strength training
a try if they haven’t already.