Be teachable and learn from good and bad examples, Josh Black’s rules of training..

Be teachable and learn from good and bad examples, Josh Black's rules of training..

As a personal trainer and a person trying to get into the best shape of my life, I am in the gym constantly. I joke with my wife that my first home is the gym since I spend more time there then my own home. This is of course a exaggeration but sometimes it feels that way. Being a father and husband I of course don't want to take time away from my family, so I maximize my schedule by working out early in the morning and or late at night. When I work out its all business, in and out. I put the headphones in and get it done because l don't have the time to be there all day chit chatting all day.

I am also a people watcher. This is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because you can learn a lot from watching other people train. A curse because I constantly see bad technique and form. I find myself wanting to correct people but I resist knowing most people, especially guys, will let their ego get in the way of good advice. Also, who has time for that? Again I want to get in and out. Don't get me wrong at times I stop and I do offer advice and try to help others, that's who I am, I love to help others. I believe that is part of the responsibility of being healthy is helping others to do the same, like Arnold said, "give something back".

I am lucky because I work out at a gym where some of the top fitness trainers, bodybuilders, and many sponsored athletes also train. I have seen Jim Stoppani, and Lee Labrada, working out, just to name a few. The person I see the most is physique competitor and fitness model, Steve Cook. Steve is an Idaho boy and lives here so I see him more frequently than others. Over the last few years, Steve being the person that he is, has given me a lot of awesome advice. You bet I watch him workout and see what he is doing.

Do you have to have famous athletes and trainers working out in your gym to learn things? Of course not, I have learned a few things from watching and talking with many people from all walks of life. Every gym has a person who looks amazing and you ask yourself, "what is that guy doing"? You don't only ask yourself, you ask them, you watch them, if your smart you learn from them. When I do talk to them it's at the drinking faucet or at the tables when they are done with their lifting session because again I don't want to interrupt their workout or mine. In between sets whether its 2 min or 1 min I can watch them and see what they are doing.

Now the opposite, the bad examples. The most frequent bad examples I see are guys whose ego gets in the way of progress. They put as much weight as possible on the bar, they use the momentum of their body movement more than the actual muscle they are trying to isolate and build to move the weight. Two frequent lifts that I see this happen, bicep curls, and bench press. With the curling movement it becomes a swinging movement, the bench becomes a bounce or arching of the back.

After all the people watching and through my own experiences, I have developed the following rules: totally my opinion. ;-) My rules (opinion) of lifting/weight training-

#1-Form-prevents injury and maximize isolation of the targeted muscle.

#2-Blood flow-This is also referred to the pump, the burn. My goal is to get as much blood and nutrients into the muscle. This means focusing on every rep and making it count. For me the slower the movement and more control of the weight, the more pump I feel. I generally with have a faster positive movement, and a very slow negative movement pausing at the top, and the bottom. This helps prevent that swinging movement I mentioned earlier.

#3-Lift Heavy while maintaining form-The word heavy is different from person to person but when I say heavy I mean as heavy as I can go, while maintaining my form and hitting my rep range. If my range is 6 I can go heavier, if it's 35 reps my weight drops but I still keep the weight as heavy as I can. I might even drop the weight while reaching the rep range.

#4-Variety- Typically your body will not hit plateaus for about 6 weeks, meaning you could do the same workouts for that six weeks and still get results before hitting plateaus. For me I have found that if I have variety in my workouts muscle confusion does take place and I have a better workout and see better results.I have my bread and butter base lifts that I do every week, bench press, squats, and dead lifts. I will build my workouts around those lifts because they help my body to natural production of testosterone and my anabolic rate.

#5-Timing between sets. If I am trying to get leaner I take shorter breaks and I lift heavy but my weight naturally goes down as my recovery time is shorter. If I am trying to put on some muscle and size, I increase my wait time between sets and give my body time to recover so I can lift the really heavy weight for the next set.

#6- Vary Rep Range-I have tried and heard every rep range in the book. 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 pyramiding or the 15, 15, 15. Drop sets of 5 up to 30, giant sets of 50,40, 30, 20, 10, 5, and back up again 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, or the good old 100 reps to burn out. There are so many ways to break down the muscle. The point is vary the range and focus back on number 2, blood flow. If your muscles are not pumped and burning your not working and you need to change it up! Up the weight, adjust your form, squeeze the muscle longer, slow up the negative movement, maybe even drop the weight. Do something different than what your doing that is not working at that moment.