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12 habits of muscular strength athletes

12 Angewohnheiten muskulöser Kraftsportler

Here is a brief summary:

  1. If hypertrophy is your primary goal, then you should be training in all repetition ranges. It's not all about "train heavy or go home."
  2. To build muscle optimally, you also need some Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting.
  3. You're probably not training hard enough. (Yeah, you.)
  4. You should have your body development professionally evaluated twice a year.
  5. You need a plan, you need to keep a training diary and you need to focus on consistency.
  6. Many bodybuilders look good not because of what they do, but in spite of what they do.
  7. Don't blindly follow anyone's advice just because they look great. Instead, find a good trainer.

1. muscular strength athletes use a variety of different repetition ranges Training for mass and training for pure strength are different. Sure, there is some correlation between muscle mass and strength, but just because someone carries around a lot of muscle mass doesn't mean they have to be tremendously strong...and vice versa.

The reason for this has primarily to do with how different hypertrophy-oriented training and pure strength training actually are. Getting stronger requires generating maximum tension in the muscle and you achieve this by using heavy weights and moving that weight as powerfully as possible. This leads to the formation of more myosin filaments and improvements in the nervous system - both of which will help you get stronger. Training for hypertrophy, on the other hand, requires a broader approach. In addition to performing some heavy sets using your 1 to 5 RM weight, you will also need to spend sufficient time inducing metabolic fatigue through higher repetition sets. This includes sets in the 6 to 10, 10 to 15 and 15 to 20 repetition ranges.

So the question is where you spend your training time. If building muscle is your primary goal, then you will need to spend time in all repetition ranges. And it's not just the repetition ranges - even the execution of the repetitions differs. In bodybuilding training, you need to focus more on feeling the muscle work, whereas in strength training you need to focus more on simply moving the weight.

The rest intervals are also different. Strength training requires longer rest intervals, while hypertrophy training requires shorter rest intervals. Ultimately, you have to decide whether your goal is hypertrophy or strength and then train accordingly.

2. muscular guys use the exercises of powerlifting or even Olympic weightlifting

If I could start bodybuilding all over again, one thing I would definitely do differently would be to use some Olympic weightlifting or powerlifting style training. Nowadays in Olympic weightlifting competitions there are only two exercises - snatch and clean and jerk - but for bodybuilding purposes you should also use the now "discarded" discipline of the press.

When it comes to powerlifting, we are talking about the bench press, squat and deadlift. However, despite the popularity of the bench press, you should focus more on the other two exercises.

But let's get a little more specific. Not many bodybuilders have a great back. Even if someone has a great latissimus, they often just tend to have a thick layer of muscle in the upper back between the shoulder blades. By training with the snatch exercise, however, you not only build up mass in the upper back area, but also the external rotators of the shoulders at the same time. The same applies to the repositioning part of the clean and jerk, also known as the power clean or power jerk. This movement is excellent for building a powerful upper back, a powerful trapezius, powerful rear shoulder muscles, etc. If you also want to train these areas of the upper back when working on your shoulders, use the clean and press exercise. This exercise is not as easy as just sitting on your butt and pressing the barbell up over your head, but it is much more functional and gives you more bang for your buck. This doesn't mean you shouldn't do seated shoulder presses with dumbbells or a barbell. Instead, you should alternate these exercises regularly. It is advisable to perform these exercises at the beginning of your training session. As for the three powerlifting exercises, you will no doubt already be performing bench presses and squats, but instead of always performing them bodybuilding style with higher reps, you should occasionally perform them the way a powerlifter would - heavy weight, low reps and long rests between sets. The same goes for deadlifts, which sadly aren't as popular in bodybuilding circles as they should be.

3. they regularly have their body development honestly assessed by others

You are the one who is the worst at evaluating your body development. When we evaluate ourselves, we usually tend to be either too critical or too benevolent in our judgment. Regardless of which is true, you need outside help if you want to build a really good body. Often someone who has experience judging competitors in bodybuilding competitions will be the best person to evaluate your body development. Or get an old-school bodybuilder who has a lot of experience to take a look at your body. And don't leave out people outside the world of competitive bodybuilding who have a really good eye for good body development.

Until you find such a trusted person, let a few people who are willing to do so take a look at your body development. You will probably recognize certain trends in what they say. If so, they're probably on the right track - whether you like it or not. As a last resort, you can take pictures of yourself and evaluate them as best you can by imagining that these pictures show someone else's body. It may help if you cut off the head in the pictures. Evaluate your body development several times a year. This is the only way to create a personalized training program that will help you take your body development to the next level.

4. use a variety of different set, repetition and rest schemes

It is true that if you could only train in one repetition range for hypertrophy, it would be the range of 8 to 12 repetitions per set. Three sets per exercise with 60 to 90 seconds rest between sets is a solid rule of thumb. However, you shouldn't spend more than half of your training time implementing these "ideal" variables. Time and time again, bodybuilders get the best results by spending more time during their workouts using a variety of different set and repetition schemes and different rest intervals. For example, try 10 x 3 with 2 minutes rest between each of these 10 sets. Doing this for 6 to 8 weeks will do wonders for your strength and also improve your muscle density. If you then go back to the tried and tested 8 to 12 repetition range, you will be able to use more weight which has obvious benefits that will ultimately lead to bigger muscles.

On the other hand, you should occasionally incorporate phases with lighter sets and shorter rest intervals into your training. For example, try 5 x 15-20 with only 20 to 30 seconds rest between sets. This will generate a lot of metabolic stress that will work wonders when it comes to making your muscles appear fuller and 'rounder'. There are different ways to incorporate variety into your workout. You can use variety within a training session for a specific muscle group or you can use training cycles of roughly four to eight weeks duration, during which you emphasize training with heavy, light or moderate weights with corresponding rest intervals.

5. they train harder than you! (probably)

It's amazing to see how many people complain that they can't seem to make progress even though they are doing everything right...or at least think they are. Then when you watch these people train, you'll see that they're not training nearly hard enough. You'll probably think that this doesn't apply to you, only to others, but there's a good chance that you're not training hard enough either. This is simply the statistical truth.

The fact is that training hard...well, it's really hard! It takes exceptional focus and even more effort to keep pushing yourself when every part of your body and brain is telling you to stop. However, if you're able to block out the pain and keep going, you'll find that you can fuel progress like never before. Let's be clear - we're not talking about training hard for every single set, week after week. This would lead to overtraining in a very short space of time. Rather, we're talking about an intelligent application of training where you give it your all. Once you figure out that a particular set needs to be performed to concentric muscle failure, you perform that set as if your life depended on it and force as many reps as humanly possible! Doing this is a bit like telling your muscles to grow instead of politely asking them to.

And it's not just about doing more reps - it's about giving it your all in each concentric phase of a repetition. This will ensure maximum stimulation of the muscle by maximizing the number of working muscle fibers. To achieve this, you need to start by mentally preparing yourself for the following training session 30 to 60 minutes before training. Use the drive to the gym as part of this preparation time and turn up some music to cheer you on. Once you reach the gym, you need to maintain this focus. Don't chat with your girlfriend, don't post anything on Facebook and don't check who has posted what on Instagram. Concentrate on your next sentence.

You will probably find this extremely difficult at first, but it will get easier over time. But don't expect it to ever be really easy. If training was that easy, many people would have a great, muscular body.

6. muscular exercisers know when to take a break

Not taking a break often enough is by far the biggest mistake people make in bodybuilding. This mistake stems from the desire to always outperform the competition and the flawed thought process that more is better. However, the truth is quite different: Training at a high intensity week after week will take its toll - especially when it comes to your central nervous system. This is especially true if you perform most sets to the point of muscle failure.

We tend to think that we have recovered sufficiently when we no longer feel muscle soreness, but not only is this a poor indicator that the myofibrils have actually been repaired, it also ignores CNS regeneration.

To ensure full recovery, you should therefore use two types of rest:

  1. Breaks from hard training
  2. Complete breaks from all training

As far as breaks from intense training are concerned, you should divide your training into 8-week blocks. During these 8 weeks, you train at full intensity for 5 weeks. During the other 3 weeks, do not go to muscle failure in your work sets, but finish your sets two to three repetitions before reaching muscle failure. As far as complete breaks from training are concerned, you should either take half a week off every 8 weeks or a full week every 16 weeks. This may sound like a lot of time, but if you train really hard, you will benefit from this.

7. you have a plan

"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." This is a good quote that definitely applies to success in bodybuilding. Bodybuilders who simply train by feel tend to be bodybuilders who are on a never-ending plateau. Guys who make steady progress have a plan when it comes to both training and nutrition. Whether your goal is to build muscle, lose fat or a combination of both, I simply cannot reiterate enough how important it is to have a plan.

It seems that training plans of 6 to 8 weeks and diet plans of 2 weeks tend to be optimal, but of course you can adjust the duration slightly in one direction or the other without compromising their effectiveness. Whatever you do, you shouldn't fluctuate between different plans from meal to meal or training session to training session. And don't try to justify this as "instinctive training" or "instinctive nutrition". If you do this, you are at the mercy of your mood, energy level, etc. and that is simply not optimal.

8. you keep a training log

When it comes to your training, your training log is an extension of your current training program. Without your training log, you will have to improvise a large part of your training session. A training plan will tell you which exercises to perform, how many sets to do and what repetition range to use. But it is your training log that will tell you exactly how much weight to use and how many repetitions you did when you last performed that training session or exercise. Only with this information can you choose the right weight and know how many reps you should aim for in your current training session. Let's say your training program calls for 4 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions of squats. You look at your training log and see that during your last training session you performed 275 pounds x 11, 285 pounds x 10, 295 pounds x 8 and 295 pounds x 7 on those 4 sets, not including the warm-up sets.

You then know that today you should aim for something along the lines of 285 pounds x 10, 290 pounds x 9, 295 pounds x 8, and 295 pounds x 8. You modified your weight selection so that you are back in the 8 to 10 repetition range on the first set and improved by one repetition on the last set by performing 8 repetitions at 295 pounds instead of 7.

Without a training diary, you simply can't train with that level of precision. And you don't have the benefit of seeing where you can potentially and realistically get another repetition out of it.

9. they pay attention to their body

Some exercisers aren't very good at paying attention to their bodies. They think that as long as they look good, everything is fine - a classic example of naivety. These are also the exercisers who only have a few glorious years.

The first thing you should watch out for is pain. For some reason, it's considered tough to train through injury, but tough doesn't mean smart. Pain is your body's way of telling you that something is going wrong. Let's say you're doing barbell curls and you feel pain on the inside of your elbow. This is most likely an onset of medial epicondylitis aka tennis elbow. If it is treated early, it will hardly cause any problems. However, if it is ignored for weeks or even months, it will be much more difficult to treat and it will take much longer before you can train again without pain. Incidentally, you can prevent the development of tennis elbow from the outset by regularly stretching your wrist flexors. And while we're on the subject of stretching, it's worth mentioning that this is something you should do every day. Think of stretching as part of your training - because it is!

The same goes for fascia roller work and - if you can afford it - regular soft tissue massage. Last but not least, if you are over 35 years old or use performance-enhancing substances, you should have your blood levels checked regularly and perhaps also have your urine tested. Just as with soft tissue injuries, problems that can be found early with the help of such tests are much quicker and easier to correct. And even if you don't care about your health and only want to be as muscular and strong as possible, you need to take care of your body. Otherwise, sooner or later you will end up with an injury or illness that will force you to take time off from training, during which you will definitely not make any progress.

10. you look at everything soberly

There's more to life than training with weights and eating. Without a doubt, bodybuilding (whether competitive or recreational) will teach you discipline, patience, goal setting and good old mental toughness, among other things. Everyone would benefit from training hard and eating really well for at least some time during their life to take their body development to the next level. But you should also make sure that bodybuilding improves your quality of life rather than reducing it. For example, do you avoid social activities with friends and family because you might miss a meal or get less than 7 or 8 hours of sleep? Have you ever given up a trip or vacation because of your training because you would have missed a few meals and workouts?

However, if you fast forward a few months or years, it will be that vacation that you remember and talk about - not another week of training with 6 meals a day. There are times when you have to cut out certain activities, but unless you're in the heat of the moment before a really important competition, you can probably cut yourself some slack on training and nutrition and have fun with friends or family. Take a sober view of your muscle building goals, especially if you don't make a living from your body development. Or do you really want to end up with a great body and a non-existent social life and/or family life?

11. you don't blindly follow the advice of more muscular bodybuilders

My current training partner is a really good competitive bodybuilder who is a few weeks away from a competition. In other words, he looks great! I, on the other hand, have just started training again after a long break. In other words, I look like a "normal mortal". So when people come to ask training and nutrition questions, who are they going to ask? Him, of course. He will then quickly and openly point out that I am the better person to ask because I am his trainer.

It's perfectly natural to want to get advice from someone who looks the way you would like to look. However, there is a big difference between being a good athlete and being a good coach. For example, it would be better to take tennis lessons from Venus Williams' coach than from Venus Williams herself. The reality is that many bodybuilders look great not because of what they do, but in spite of what they do.

Before I had ever trained a professional bodybuilder, I thought that these athletes were walking encyclopedias of training and nutrition information. Some are, but the reality is that most are not. In fact, you'll hear some of the most absurd things coming out of the mouths of top-level bodybuilders and figure athletes - especially when it comes to nutrition. The point is that you shouldn't just blindly follow someone's advice just because they look great. That person might just look great because of their genetics, performance-enhancing compounds or a combination of both. Instead, find a good trainer or strive to become one yourself.

12 Successful strength athletes are consistent

Even if you have the best genetic predispositions, you won't get anywhere in bodybuilding without consistency. At the same time, you can build an impressive body even with less than optimal genetics if you are willing to be consistent over a long enough period of time. To be clear, I'm talking about consistency in training and nutrition, not just one or the other. Training and nutrition go hand in hand like an engine and transmission - one won't work without the other. Too many people train and eat well for a few weeks or maybe even a few months, but then eventually get discouraged and stop. Then they may eventually start again and stay consistent for a while, only to quit again too soon.

Building muscle is different than collecting stamps! Once you stop, you can't just pick up where you left off later. Instead, you have to start all over again. That's why consistency is so crucial. To really maximize your body development, you need to eat 5 to 6 meals a day and train 4 or 5 days a week for several years straight. I'm sorry if I've shattered your illusions if you were expecting something easier. If you're looking for an easier hobby, try the aforementioned stamp collecting, restoring old cars, or something else that doesn't require the same insane amount of consistent discipline as building muscle.

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