God love our way of life where more is better. More money, more food, more house, more reps and more weights. Why would I do only 3 sets when I can do 5 or 6 for 10 reps. More reps= more gainz bro. Why stop training when I have some gas in the tank, I should be training to failure all the time regardless of how I feel. Or the best, if I’m not sore afterwards I didn’t get a good workout. This way of thinking is all well and good until you get hurt, which if you are training to failure all the time will undoubtedly happen. Your body can only send you so many signals before it can’t take anymore. This is along the same lines as the person going to all the parties. Yea it’s fun for a little while but eventually all the late nights and booze will catch up to you.

If you’re just starting out at the gym why start going 100 mph? I always advise to start slow and progress. If you don’t get hurt starting at 100 mph, where do you go from there? There will come a point where you burn yourself out, get hurt or there is simply not enough time to do all that you need to do to get a good workout.

You have to ask yourself, “Can I train like this in 10 years or do I have 2-3 years of training and that’s it?” Remember, as you get older things don’t get any easier, muscles stay sore longer, metabolism slows down, jobs and families produce new and different stresses. Not to mention the wear and tear you are putting on your body after all those sets and other daily activities.

With weightlifting and pretty much everything else that comes out of Eastern Europe, simplicity is the key. There is a man from Russia named Pavel Tsatsouline, who brought the kettle bell into popularity in the US. He has trained Soviet Union Special Forces and now is a subject matter expert for the US Marines, Secret Service and the Navy Seals. He is the guy in the picture.  His methods of getting people stronger from the elite special ops to the general public are based on a few movements with a kettle bell with amazing results. He doesn’t train to failure or to get you sore. His method is to add weight to the bar. Since he doesn’t train to failure doesn’t mean he isn’t training hard. The end results are his trainees get stronger. Mission accomplished.

Achieving your goal of strength or size does not depend on how much punishment or how sore you are after your workout. Pavel provides a perfect example for gaining strength by doing a 5x5x5 routine 3 times a week. Take the big 5 exercises (squat, deadlift, bench, pullups, overhead presses) and do 5 sets of 5 reps. That’s it. With these 5 exercises you work all the muscles in your body with heavy weights. Simplicity at it’s finest. Now if you are looking to add size to your frame, exaggerating the negatives or eccentric phase of the motion or using slow reps will put more stress on the muscle. For example, using 20 lbs for lat raises with slow controlled reps will give you more of a workout than 30 lbs of fast reps. Why? Time under tension.

Your muscles react more the longer they have a stress added to them. The longer the duration of a movement the more the muscle has to work especially on the negative phase of the motion. As an added bonus, the slower the rep the lower the weight which reduces the risk of injury. Your also not flinging the weights around putting unneeded stress to your joints and directing the stress to your muscles which can handle it. Like the turtle, slow and steady wins the race.  I’m not saying that you will never be sore working like this but it will take less of a toll on your body over the long run. There will be days when you aren’t going to feel like lifting too. For those days lighten the weight and do more slow reps. This will improve blood flow and help sore muscles recover.

People are still going to have the mindset that more is better and consider this approach lazy. Ask them if it is lazy when you can workout for months when they have to take a week off every few weeks because they are getting sick or injured.

What I’m trying to get across is more is not always better. Every once in a while to test yourself to go to failure or max out on a squat or deadlift. It’s good to not only see in the mirror but on the barbell as well your progress. Everyday maxing out or going to failure is asking for an injury.

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