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January 01, 2023 4 Comments
That time of year is coming where everyone’s getting ripped and shredded. Woaaaah, Nellie! The world’s about to get a whole lot sexier with all these fabulous, unique resolutions that we’ve never heard before.
You probably told yourself that last year too but things just didn’t work out with Covid and everything. And the year before that…oh yea, Covid again.
But this year is going to be different, right? Well, we still have Omnicron so what have you done to make sure it'll really be different this time? Because honestly, it probably won't be if all you have is a resolution and no plan. It’ll likely be the same ‘ol same ‘ol with most people going hard as shit for the first 4 weeks, buying $100(0) of worthless supps, and then deciding…“Now's really not a good time for me but look out 2024 ‘cause I’m coming.”
New Years’s resolutions don’t work but the fitness industry is partially responsible as they designed this recurring wave of you spending fat cash and then never going to the gym. We at SET FOR SET aren't about that and we have no interest in you failing. This is why we wanted to produce this piece to help you succeed next year. Some of the things you'll hear may seem a bit hard, but we say it with the honest intent of seeing you get better…Or we could keep filling your head with nonsense as you fail over and over…no thanks.
To begin with, you need to understand that big box gyms literally have business plans that assume the vast majority of you will never show up after buying a membership. In fact, if every member of your gym came to train regularly, it would be a madhouse and the fire marshal would be called to clear everyone out.
Do you know how busy the gym is during the first few weeks of January? That's not even everyone, as studies show that 64% of memberships go entirely unused. 82% go to the gym less than once a week, and 22% of members completely stop going after 6 months. However, gyms still manage to retain 25-30% of their members; likely because they just forgot to turn off autopay but still.
Worse, if you were to break down the percentage of gym-goers who consistently go to the gym (at least 2x a week) for an extended period of time, you are left with a minuscule number. And this is how gyms make their money by selling services that are never used...kind of like your drawer full of expired gift cards.
Point being is if you are getting advice from establishments that expect you to fail, you’re not starting off on a positive note.
Here we go with the bad. There's a good chance that you have failed due to one of the reasons below…or a combination; maybe all of them. And before we start, keep in mind that again, this isn't necessarily 100% your fault because this is how the fitness industry is designed. Flashy ads with insane claims mislead people to believe that embarking on a "fitness journey" is easy. It's not (but it kind of is IF you have good information, see below), so as you read through these New Year resolution traps, be honest with yourself and identify if you have fallen victim.
1. You Want A Quick Fix
Everyone thinks they're going to go to the gym and fix their years of poor habits in a couple weeks. You hear all the exaggerated claims about HIIT "melting fat like butter" so you're just going to HIIT up your gut until it becomes a "literal furnace" and “watch the fat drip off” until you're all chiseled and jacked. No, that's not going to happen. In fact, you likely aren't even at an appropriate level of fitness where HIIT is even practical, but that's another story.
The point being is that everyone thinks they're unique and the fundamental physiological processes don't apply to them. This means they can just go to the gym whenever and completely change their bodies. They expect to have a 180-degree turn by Valentine's day when they start in January. Come February, they've seen minimal change, their Valentines’ date says "nope", and so they decide "the gym is stupid and only for gym rats" and stop going.
In fact, most good trainers will require a minimum commitment of 3 months so they don’t have to explain to their clients why they don’t look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club by week 2.
2. You Have Zero Plan
Do you start a business without thinking about it beforehand? Or build a house? Or get married? Or do anything of significance without at least having a general idea of what you're going to do? Then why do you walk into the gym like a deer in headlights with absolutely zero idea of what you're doing yet have your agent lined up for when Muscle & Fitness calls you to be on their cover? We’ve seen better laid out plans for what Netflix movies people will watch compared to their gym plan.
This is why January is full of trainees doing curls to death as they awkwardly look around. If you have no plan and zero ideas of what proper training looks like, you're foolish to think you can smash it in the gym. YOU MUST HAVE A PLAN! We'll address this later.
3. You Have No Quantifiable Goal
Linked to above, if you have a plan, what's your goal? Even when someone new to the gym kind-of knows what to do, they generally have no goal. Ask yourself, when you play a pick-up game of basketball, do you "just play" or do you keep score? In fact, scoring is the entire point of sports. Having a goal gives us a purpose and reason to be doing what we're doing.
This doesn't necessarily mean you need to compete professionally in bodybuilding, but it should be something that you can measure. A specific body composition, hit 2x bodyweight deadlift, run the 5k in 25 minutes, or even improve blood levels. Something that guides your training variables.
In fact, having a measurable goal is the first part of building your plan. Once you have a goal, you can then write a program (your plan) to get you from where you are now, to that goal.
4. Too Hard, Too Fast
This one makes us cringe hard. People who haven't been active in months, or years, think they can go to the gym, work out 2-3 hours every day, and maybe even do two-a-days 'cause they're just that hardcore. Stop it. You are not Rambo nor are you tougher than everyone else. In fact, your body can't handle it and you're going to hurt yourself.
Results don't come quickly regardless of how hard you push it in the gym as our body's physiological systems simply don't work that way. This is where the fitness world warps your mind with their "30-Day Hollywood Transformation" workouts.
Going hard for a month doesn't impress anyone. Being consistent for 20+ years does. Consistency will always trump weekend warriors. Always.
5. You Give Up Too Early
You think you're going to create a new body in 30 days, and when that doesn't happen, you say adios amigo. The keyword here is "giving up". You have let false advertising and Instagram lead you to believe this is an easy process, so you expect to see your body transform daily. When this doesn’t happen, you assume “working out just doesn’t work” and you quit. Side note: Going to the gym ALWAYS works if you do it properly. The squat isn’t an electric device that can break.
However, many people won't even really see any noticeable improvements for the first 30 days as they don't have the ability to push themselves appropriately in the gym, especially with barbell lifting. And this is perfectly ok because it takes time to learn the movements but if you give yourself reasonable time, you’ll be amazed by the results.
Again this all has to do with your mindset being completely skewed. And in fact, it starts with the whole idea that you're going to get fit on January 1st. This idea that being healthy is so time-consuming that you need a few more weeks to rest before you embark on your extreme makeover. Results take time and you should start now.
6. You Don't Respect The Hard Work Of The Fit Population
This is an accumulation of all the above. You simply don't respect fit people because you apparently think it's not that hard and you can just reverse your years of Netlfix, beer, and pizza whenever you want.
It's like the guys who say "Yea, I could be a doctor if I wanted to…" Cool story, but you're not a doctor, and if you could be a doctor, you would. You don't think PhD holders also had to sacrifice time and money and a social life as well to pursue their doctorate? They did because they wanted it more than you, and that's 100% ok. Not everyone can pursue a PhD but blowing it off like it's not a big deal is silly.
This is the same thing as people thinking they could be fit if they wanted to. Therefore, they're going to wait to do it in January and are rudely awakened by how hard it really is; well, it's not hard if you have the right mindset, but we'll talk about that down below.
Now let’s talk about how to fix the bad. I'm sure at least one of the above struck a chord with you, and that's ok because accepting our faults is the first step of real change. Let's put that behind us as now we're going to talk about what you can do to make your New Year's resolution stick.
1. Spend Time Learning About Proper Strength And Conditioning
The BEST thing you can do to ensure you are successful in fitness is spending some time to learn the WHY of what you're doing. Understanding basic concepts of our physiological and metabolic systems will have a massive impact and lead you to actually crushing your goals.
This doesn't mean you need to get a degree or spend all day learning, but you should understand simple things such as:
You'll then know the "why" behind the training with this information. SET FOR SET is an excellent resource as we provide science-backed information in a way that's easy to understand.
Here are some great articles to get started:
2. Learn The Benefits Of Training
Similar to above, many benefits of weight training go far beyond building big biceps. However, many of these benefits can't be "seen", especially right away. For example, you can't "see" you're not getting sick, but strength training has a definite positive impact on your immune system. It may take a year before you realize you don't get sick as often, but it doesn't matter if you know these things are happening.
For example, imagine if someone showed you how to change your oil and expected you to get under your car and get dirty and sprayed with oil. However, they never really explained why, just that all the cool kids are doing it. You're probably going to stop pretty soon as you don't see the purpose of ruining your clothes and getting dirty for something that you really can't see.
Now imagine they sat you down and explained why you need to change the oil and its role in keeping your engine running smooth. Further, they show you pictures of what happens when you don't change your oil and then contrast it with images of a car with regular oil changes. Next, they showed you how regular oil changes can maintain the car's value. Now you're more likely going to get a bit dirty every 3 months as you see the massive benefits.
Proper exercise and nutrition can;
…and so on. The list is endless.
3. Set A Workout Schedule You Can Maintain
This is why we HATE the whole "new year, new me" mantra as it sets this tone that significant changes are coming. Almost as if you deserve the rest of the year off because you're gonna get crazy come January. This is stupid and sets you up for failure.
Going to the gym should not be stressful, and you should not be sacrificing meaningful time (Netflix is not meaningful time) to do it. In fact, going to the gym should be therapeutic and a time for you to release stress. It should be something you look forward to doing (at least most of the time).
One of the reasons this happens is because people set up these insane schedules, and not only do they get burned out mentally, their bodies literally can not keep up. They then get injured or are just physically exhausted, and they stop going.
In reality, those looking for general fitness can easily plan a program that includes going to the gym 2-3x a week.
Sure more might be better (only to an extent), but if it's going to cause you to burn out, what's the point? We'd rather you go to the gym 2 days a week for the rest of your life than 6 days a week for 6 months and then never come back.
Find something that's easily manageable long-term and go with that. If you want to add a day later then cool.
4. Understand Fitness Doesn't Only Happen At The Gym
There is this idea that you can only do fitness at the gym. We love the gym and moving iron, but it's hardly the only place you can get in shape. In fact, we love outside athletics. Cycling, surfing, kayaking, running…anything that you enjoy AND gets you moving.
You know the saying…"Love what you do and never work a day in your life."? Well the same applies to fitness. Find one person who loves surfing or cycling or paddleboarding or any outdoor sport that isn't fit . You won't because they love being active. Well, I’m sure there’s some but you get the point.
We're not saying forgo the gym as resistance training has benefits that can not be replicated outside. We are saying that you can go to the gym AND participate in a sport as well. In addition to what we mentioned above about having a sustainable schedule, gym training 2 days a week combined with regular outdoor activity would be awesome.
5. Invest In A PROPER Personal Trainer
Invest in your health if you're serious about getting healthy. This means spending some money at first to get a qualified trainer to work with you. Now, we don't mean hire a rep counter. We mean a qualified individual who will teach you proper movement patterns, teach you about basic programming, and educate you along the way. You want to hire someone who can get you to a point where you don't need a trainer anymore. Sure, you can still buy programs, but there's no reason you need someone to hold your hand in the gym for a year.
Again, this is an investment that will have life-long applications so spend it.
6. Set A Quantifiable Goal And Write A Plan To Reach It
We spoke about how not having a plan or goal is setting yourself up for failure. Therefore, write a goal and plan.
Remember that the goal needs to be quantifiable, meaning you can measure it. For example, "getting fit" is excellent, but how do you measure that? Everyone wants to get strong but saying you want a 315 squat is something we can measure. Many lifters can simply use basic strength standards to help them identify some areas to improve and where they need to be. Still, your first goal could be something like completing a certain program when you first start. Assuming you're using progressive overload and are improving, that's perfect.
In fact, your first goal might be something like learning the movements or learning how to use the machines. This is a fantastic milestone to aim for as it's definitely achievable, and you can learn a lot during this process.
Further, in addition to your large goals, be sure to have small achievable goals along the way. For example your squat could go 135→175→200→250→300→315
That’s 4 celebrations you get to have before your big 315.
7. Get Your Mind Right
This is of utmost importance as nothing works out if you go in with the wrong expectations. One of the most critical things you need to understand is this is not a fast process nor is it “no pain, no gain” everyday.
You're not going to expedite results by performing some new workout or using intermittent fasting. To be clear, there's nothing wrong with intermittent fasting, but too many people think they're on a secret diet that allows their metabolism to become a furnace that will burn fat faster than all the others.
Understanding this will take patience and dedication is key. Again, this goes back to being honest with yourself and planning a sustainable plan. However, every day you go makes going the next day easier. Plus, you’ll be surprised by how good you feel even if you may not see a 6-pack right away.
Again, knowing what to expect and having reasonable goals is the greatest thing you can do to increase success. So how long do you need? Like we said above, give yourself at least 3 months to start seeing noticeable changes. However, you’ll experience definite improvements in mood and energy in as little as a week.
Here at SET FOR SET we're all about education. Therefore, we want to leave you with the key components you need to get on the right track this time. Proper strength and hypertrophy training is a bit of an oxymoron as the systems that dictate adaptation are highly complex. However, the practical application that comes from this understanding is relatively simple. While some trainers make you think it’s totally complicated, it's not.
The information below will always be the backbone of your training program, no matter what level you're at. While we definitely want you to always be learning, here are the basics of writing a program to get you started this year.
Include The Basic Foundational Movements
When we look at biomechanics, we see seven main movement patterns. They are as follows
While we included some examples of each movement, there are plenty more to choose from. Further, you'd be well off if you also had some sort of carrying exercise (farmer carry) and moving exercise (sled work).
Hit Each Of Those Movements Twice A Week
Hit each of those movement patterns above twice a week. Studies show this is the optimal frequency for strength and hypertrophy.
This can be done as:
2 Days A Week, 3 Days A Week, 4 Days A Week
Concentrate On Compound Movements And Use Isolation As Needed
Too many beginners are doing too many curls. As a beginner, the vast majority (if not all) of your workout should be compound movements. Studies have shown that beginners benefit very little from isolation work as compound movements are more than sufficient for muscle stimulus. We understand getting a pump is fun, but it should be reserved for one or two movements at the end of your session. You could do more but you're just wasting time.
Big movements first followed by smaller accessory work. Further, most trainees can get away with six movements a day quickly. This could look something like this:
This will alter some depending on your frequency but it should be similar.
Work A Range Of Loads
Again, too many new trainees are lifting WAY too light. Enough of that. You need to start lifting heavy on some movements. Going with the above mock session, a great workout could look like;
Switch Things Up When Things Get Stale
You can't progress forever doing the same thing. Luckily, all you need to do is switch things up a little to continue moving. This IS NOT muscle confusion as our muscles don't get confused. Fibers either fire or they don't. However, we can cause different fibers to fire differently if we alter the force angle or use different loads. Switching things up is more like covering all of your bases and not leaving any variables behind. This can be done in a few ways.
These three methods are more than enough to keep you going for at least a year. However, stick with a specific program for at least 3 months when you first begin lifting.
Use Progressive Overload!!!
Even when trainees continue going, they get fed up because they don't see results. More often than not, they're also using the same weight they were 6 months ago! Why would your body change if you didn't force it!!??
You see, the most vital principle of training is you MUST slowly increase the load continuously. Quite simply, our bodies don't want muscle; they NEED muscle. For example, if you had ever had to stay in a hospital bed for a continuous period, you find that you have become small and weak. Or, if you have ever been in a cast, you can actually see that limb has shrunk when you take it off. Why? Atrophy...your body sensed that it doesn't need the muscle, so it got rid of it. However, the muscle comes back when you start using your body again.
This means that your body adapts to the situation it finds itself in. It will grow muscle if it needs to, so you must give it a reason, and this is what you're doing at the gym; you are placing your muscle in an artificial environment where it must grow.
However, once you use some weight and your body adapts, it will stop growing until you add a little weight and create a more intense environment. This is progressive overload and merely has you slowly adding higher loads to your muscle.
You've probably heard this before and perhaps even thought to yourself it sounds a bit cheesy. Maybe but it's 100% true. Too many people look at going to the gym as a chore or some epic event. In reality, we are simply creating an environment that stresses our body as our modern lifestyle has caused us to become so sedentary. The population that sticks with the gym doesn't look at it as anything other than something that needs to get done; similar to wiping your butt or brushing your teeth.
It's not always exciting, and some days you don't want to go but would ever skip out on wiping? That's what a true fitness lifestyle looks like. Sure, things happen where you might need to make up a workout day (never "makeup" wiping. Always wipe no matter how busy you are), but in general, you'll find a way to get it done. That might mean a quick HIIT session or steady state cardio or a long walk with the dog. The most important thing is you get some work in. It's not an option but a part of your routine. Once you start looking at the gym as something you’re going to do rather than a “resolution”, then you’ll have true success.
This is why we at SET FOR SET do what we do; we want to provide you with all of the information you need to be successful in the gym. We want to thank you for all of your support in 2022 and want you to be with us in 2023 and beyond. Drop us a message whenever you have a question or need some help and we’re more than happy to help you out. Also, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with all of our articles in 2023…big things are coming!
January 03, 2022
This was one of the most real world applicable articles on fitness I have read. Thank you!
January 01, 2022
Thanks for putting the time in to share this information with us! You guys are spot on. Many of the points in this writing sound way too familiar. Thanks again for 1) letting us know we are normal, and 2) showing us effective ways to change!
December 31, 2021
Yet another thoughtful, well researched article from you guys, so glad I found you!
While I am guilty at one time or another of most of the things you mention, I have always loved exercise (and hard physical work as well) and recognize this as a blessing. I know so many people who dread a workout then drag their asses through it with no enthusiasm. I do have a habit of staying in a routine too long so your timing is perfect.
P.S., I always wipe…
December 31, 2021
I loved your article. My main goal is to not get hurt. Will be thinking of quantifiable goals to be able to reach by March, by June, Sept. and December.
Keep up the good work. I
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