by Corey “Narkissos” Springer
Owner of: “The NarkSide” Fitness Forums,Apollo Fitness Barbados, & NarkSide Apparel.
Summer’s just about over in my part of the world. As a result, the gyms are seeing less and less patronage. But I mean hell, just because summer’s over doesn’t mean that you don’t need to ditch “operation lean and sexy”. i.e. Opportunities to show off that hot body don’t dry up because the weather changes. Keep that in mind my friends!
“Lean & Tight” is sexy year-round!
With that in mind: Having followed part 1 of this series, I’d fathom that you guys should be primed and ready for ‘level 2’. So let’s get to it.
(NB: For Tips 1-3, see this link: http://www.getnarked.net/forum/showthread.php?t=9992)
4. Get competitive!
Research shows that adding an element of competition to an endeavor can increase an individual’s levels of commitment, motivation, and enjoyment, of said activity.
Personally, I’ve found that the addition of some competition tends to be the catalyst: turning a good work-out into an absolutely awesome one.
The great thing about competition in the gym, is that it can take on so very many forms.
On squat day, it can take on the form of “largest number of quality reps achieved at [insert weight]”.
On cardio day it take on the form of “fastest outdoor sprint” etc.
There’s just SO much that can be done.
Don’t have a training partner? Borrow one.
That’s right… Borrow one: Walk up to the person who you most want to look like, and (politely) ask if you could work in with them for the day… and, try to keep up.
Should that person not be interested, you’re left with the option of mimicking the person’s work-out from your corner of the gym… attempting to exceed everything that they’ve done.
Heck, there really isn’t even a need for another party… oftentimes I compete against myself.
“How the hell do you do that Nark?! Damn your guru dribble! Dammit. Dammit. Dammit!”
(Sorry… sometimes I honestly crack myself up. I can honestly hear some of you saying exactly that lol.)
Continuing: Beating yourself.
This really isn’t as psychotic as it sounds. Well, maybe it is in a sense.
Basically, this requires that you constantly surpass every total you’ve logged in previous work outs.
e.g. If you Squatted 200 lbs for 5 sets of 10 reps (i.e. 50 reps total)… Then I expect you to try to achieve 60 reps in the follow-up workout.
If you’ve done weighted hill sprints up a 50meter incline in 20 seconds… I expect you to push to complete it in 15 seconds. etc.
Compete and WIN!!!
You’ll continue to win even after you’ve left the gym.
5. Be One-sided!
I’ve found that most people tend to have one side of the body which is bigger and stronger than the other. Additionally, a lot of people (namely sedentary individuals) have issues working/recruiting certain muscle groups.
The solution to each of the above problems?
i.e. Working one side of the body (via single-arm, or single-leg exercises) at a time.
Single-leg/Single-arm exercises can be GREAT plateau blasters as well.
I find unilateral training works so very well because it places heavy demands on the target musculature… as well as the core musculature used in maintaining torso stability.
“But Nark… Don’t ‘normal’ barbell movements place heavy demands on the target musculature?”
Sure… It does.
But oftentimes standard lifts, particularly where a muscular or postural balance already exists, tend to recruit secondary support musculature.
Basically, the body seeks the easiest route via which the exercise can be completed.
Unfortunately, ‘easiest’ isn’t necessarily optimal for our purposes. Oftentimes imbalances are simply exacerbated.
That’s where unilateral work comes in.
“Ok, ok… So what exercises can I incorporate?”
I’m glad you asked really.
Instead of Barbell Squats, work quadriceps with:
- Dumbbell/Barbell Lunges (either static or walking lunges)
- Bulgarian Split Squats
- Dumbbell Step-ups
Instead of Dead-lifts/leg-curls/hyper-extensions, work hamstrings with:
- Single-leg Dumbbell Dead-lifts
- Single-leg Hyper-extensions
- Single-leg Standing/Laying Leg-curls
Instead of Barbell Rows and Lat-Machine Pull-downs, work the muscles of the back with:
- One-arm Dumbbell Rows
- One-arm Pendlay Rows
- One-arm T-bar rows
- One-arm Dumbbell Pullover
- One-arm Lat-machine pull-downs
Instead of Barbell shoulder presses, work the muscles of the deltoid complex with:
- Single-arm Arnold presses
- One-arm Lateral Raise
- One-arm Dumbbell/Cable Front Raise
- Single arm Dumbbell Overhead press
For biceps, ditch the barbell curl, and instead use:
- One-arm Dumbbell Preacher curls
For triceps, opt for the:
- One-arm overhead dumbbell extension
For calves, try a single-leg variant of any calf exercise you’re currently doing.
Remember this line from the the preceding article? “Make it random… make it hard, make it interesting.”
Step it up!
6. Stop counting reps
Yes, I’ve said in previous sections and articles “beat [insert number] repetitions!”.
However, I’m really not one for numerical fixations… as my clients and training partners soon realize.
While structure (via working through specific pre-set rep ranges) is great, it can set some people up for failure… and I’m not talking about the good kind either.
The mind is very powerful. Still, it’s heavily influenced by the commands and concepts we allow to filter through.
If you approach a challenging weight with a preconceived number of repetitions in mind, then you WILL shut down (mentally and physically) at that number… even if there’s a possibility that you could’ve gotten another 2 or 3 repetitions on your own.
These two or three missed repetitions are often the difference between success and stagnation where fitness is concerned.
So my tip? Think more, but think less.
i.e. Project free will into your set… and ditch numerical fixations.
Previously I used to imagine myself doing a set prior to actually executing the set. In so doing, I primed my body to follow my mind.
Now a days, I just leave my mind blank… ‘cept for the safety protocol running in the background which (via enforcing proper exercise form) prevents injury.
Other than that, it’s just me and weights, repping until absolute failure.
You might just like it.
Turn your limitations off!
-Corey “Narkissos” Springer
“The NarkSide” Fitness Forums
- Tauer, John M.; Harackiewicz, Judith M. The Effects of Cooperation and Competition on Intrinsic Motivation and Performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol 86(6), Jun 2004, 849-861.
- Reeve J., Olson B., Cole S. Motivation and Performance: Two consequences of winning and losing in competition. Motivation and Emotion, Vol 9, No. 3, 1985, 295.