Skip to content

The 7 smartest training tips of all time

Die 7 intelligentesten Trainingtipps aller Zeiten

1 - Train your muscles more often

Forget splits by muscle group. You know, those training splits where Monday is chest day and you don't train that muscle group for 7 days afterwards. The variable overlooked in this common split is the frequency of exercise execution.

If you are the typical exerciser who uses a split by muscle group, then you change your exercise selection, your weights and your repetition ranges on a semi-regular basis, but you only train each muscle group once a week.

In terms of intramuscular adaptations, strength and hypertrophy, you will reach a plateau if you train each movement pattern only once a week. The plateau-breaking potential of increasing frequency will shock you.

To increase training frequency, you should move to a push-pull split while decreasing overall daily training volume.

Here is an example:

Day 1: Pull muscles

  • Leg curls
  • back
  • biceps

Day 2: pressing muscles

  • quadriceps
  • chest
  • shoulders
  • triceps

If you can train four to six days a week, then you will train each movement pattern two to three times a week. Is that too much to be able to recover sufficiently? No, it is not. The reduction in daily volume makes this possible. Not only will you be able to recover well - your strength will also go through the roof as you double or triple the training stimulus.

Ditch the split by muscle group and increase your training frequency. Or at least give push-pull training a chance for a few months and see what happens.

2 - Perform metabolic finishing sets

There is one muscle that strength and muscle mass focused exercisers often don't think about enough and that is the cardio muscle. It needs regular attention and adequate stimulation. There are few things that will get your heart pumping (and therefore strengthening) as much as 10 to 20 minutes of metabolic finishing sets.

At the end of your regular training session, get your metabolic fire burning with EMOMconditioning. EMOM stands for "every minute on the minute". Load up a weight sled or trap bar for Farmers Walk. You should use a heavy enough weight to last 25 to 30 seconds without breaking.

You will have to adapt to the space available, but for every full minute you carry, pull or push the weight for 25 seconds. Take the rest of the minute to recover. During round two, carry, pull or push the weight back to the starting point. The distance you have to cover for each round remains the same, but your rest periods will become shorter as you become more exhausted. Repeat for a total of 10 to 20 rounds. Feel free to curse between deep breaths.

3 - Use time under tension

Slow down! When it comes to stimulating gains in muscle mass, most of the muscle damage required for growth comes from the eccentric or lowering phase of the movement. If you let the weight bounce off your chest or drop like a stone into the lowest position of the movement during squats, then there is essentially no eccentric component, just gravity. Always control the weight.

Yes, there is a time for fast, explosive movements and that is the concentric (lifting) phase of the movement. Increase the time under tension with slow, controlled eccentric movements much more often and grow.

4 - Train the posterior muscle chain

Your posterior chain consists of the muscles at the back of your body from the neck to the Achilles heel. With all the time we spend sitting and all the time we exercisers spend pushing, the posterior chain needs more attention than you are currently giving it. There are two specific exercises for the posterior chain that you're probably not doing, or at least not doing often enough:

Face Pulls


There may well be no more important exercise for shoulder joint health and posture than face pulls. This exercise is amazingly effective when it comes to counteracting the three deadly things of the 21st century: sitting, hunched back and staring at a monitor.

Don't think of face pulls as a strength exercise. Keep the weight relatively light and the rope quite high. Focus your attention on the movement of your shoulder blades. They should be pulled back evenly as you pull the rope towards you. Hold the maximum contraction for one to two breaths.

Alternate between an overhand grip and an underhand grip from set to set, or perform 8 to 10 repetitions with one grip first, immediately followed by 8 to 10 repetitions with the other. The difference of a few degrees of external rotation will change how the retractors of the shoulder blades are activated. Aim for 3 to 4 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions.

Hip Thrusts

Hip thrusts are probably the best exercise you can do to activate your gluteus. Apart from filling the back of your pants, you need to maximize the strength and engagement of your gluteus to increase your weights on squats and deadlifts.

A powerful backside will also help you prevent back pain. Get over the initial shame and make hip thrusts a regular part of your training.

5 - Be consistent

Any trainer will answer the question "What is the best program for building muscle or strength or developing a specific muscle group?" with "The program you follow consistently".

There is no substitute for hard work done consistently over an extended period of time when it comes to achieving your goals.

6 - Use techniques to extend your training sets

If we're really honest, it's quite rare for most of us to perform a set to muscle failure. True muscle failure involves skipping the last repetition - something we want to avoid for a number of reasons, with injury being high on the list.

Far more often, we end the set as soon as we reach a target repetition count. At best, we go to voluntary failure (the last repetition I want to perform) or technical failure (the last repetition I can perform without my technique deteriorating).

Ending a set prematurely means giving up potential growth. You may have nothing left to give on that weight or exercise, but that doesn't mean the set has to be over. This is where extensions to the set come into play. But don't overdo it with these techniques. Using them on the last set of an exercise is enough.

The best techniques for extending your training sets:

Descending sets

In a descending set, you continue the set beyond voluntary and/or technical failure by reducing the weight by 10 to 20% and performing more repetitions. Exercises performed on machines with weights or dumbbells are the most convenient for descending sets.

So-called "run-the-rack" sets have long been very popular for side raises and bicep curls. Here you start with a set of dumbbells with which you can complete 8 to 10 repetitions and continue the set with 2.5 to 5 kilos lighter dumbbells, with which you again go to the point of failure. Continue this until you have reached the lightest pair of dumbbells.

Devil's drop sets (devilish descending sets)

My personal favorite approach to descending sets is an approach I call devil's drop sets, which means devilish descending sets. These descending sets provide a good balance between strength and hypertrophy by using relatively heavy weights and relatively high reps. This approach is quite simple: 6-6-6.

Use a weight that is in the range of your 8RM weight and perform 6 reps (meaning you finish the set a few reps before reaching muscle failure). Reduce the weight by just 10% and perform another 6 reps. Then reduce the weight by 10% again and fight through the pain to perform another 6 reps. If you have chosen the weight correctly, you should reach the point of technical failure on the last set.

Mechanical descending sets

Rather than reducing the weight to extend the set, move to a lighter modification of the exercise, usually using the same weight. An excellent growth-stimulating mechanical descending set can be performed with pull-ups:

  • Perform as many wide-grip pull-ups as you can. Use a weight vest or weightlifting belt with a weight plate hanging from it if you can do more than 15 reps.
  • Next, for eccentric pull-ups, go to the point of failure. Jump to the highest position and lower your body as slowly as possible.
  • Finally, get under a bar and perform as many repetitions of horizontal rowing (feet on the floor or elevated depending on your level of fatigue) as possible.


In a rest-pause set, you perform your set to the point of failure, put the weight down for 10 to 15 seconds and then perform as many more repetitions as possible with the same weight. Then repeat this one more time.

Two rest-pause rounds are usually sufficient. Choose a weight with which you can perform a solid 6 repetitions. You should be able to do 3 to 4 reps on the second mini set and 1 or 2 reps on the last mini set.

7 - Perform your mobility training

At the end of your training session, when your muscles are flooded with blood and your joints are well lubricated, perform mobility training. Take a few minutes to do these flexibility exercises and stretches. You should hold each of these for a good 10 to 30 seconds.

Child's Pose

Sit on your heels and move your chest towards your thighs to stretch your lower back, pelvis and groin.

Deep squats without additional weight

If necessary, hold on to something and go as deep as possible into a squat position. Make subtle weight shifts from one foot to the other and from heel to toe. Tense your spine and relax it again.

Calf stretch

Stand with one foot on a platform inclined at 45 degrees or on the edge of a step if this is the best you have. Shift your weight around your foot in a clockwise rotation for 2 or 3 rotations and then repeat clockwise. The movement should be so subtle that someone watching you should barely notice that you are moving. This is a great help for ankle dorsiflexion mobility.

Hang low

Grab a pull-up bar with a shoulder-width grip, keep your shoulders down and back in a solid position and enjoy the decompressing effect on your spine. Ideally, look for the highest pull-up bar you can find. Stretch out your entire body to get the most benefits. If you are too tall or the bars in your gym are too low, extend your legs slightly forward with your feet above the floor instead of bending your lower legs backwards.

Hip flexor stretch

Your hip flexors, which are chronically shortened from too much sitting, will thank you. Use the following stretching exercise:

Elevated Pigeon Stretch

Use a box or other horizontal surface that is approximately at the height of your knee or up to mid-thigh height. Place one leg on this surface so that your lower leg is across in front of your body. Bend over the leg and carefully oscillate forwards, backwards and to the right and left. This exercise is excellent for hip mobility.


From Dean Graddon

Previous article The definitive guide to preventing muscle loss