The most important component of successful training is an unremitting desire to progress. Athletes and coaches sometimes become frustrated by lack of gains “their program” delivers. This leads to a search for magical solutions, food supplements, exercises and equipment. Typically the “program” will be changed, perhaps changing exercises, set, reps, percentages or speed of movement. After another period of unsatisfactory results, new gurus will be consulted and the program will change again. All the while, the answer to their problem is right their in front of both the players and coaches.

Many people have devised very complicated ways to train that are hard to understand, and we are sure the muscles do not understand them either. The question that remains is can sets, reps and speed of movement change the chemical composition of muscle fibers? Muscles are not that smart. They do not have “eyeballs” that allow them to “see a program” or if the resistance comes from a machine or barbell. Many methods assume that there is a magical muscle making formula that you can just plug into and get results.

Reality is something different. The body changes by a force of will. Strength training, to be productive, must be challenging and progressive. However, the progression need not be difficult to understand. Each workout, on each exercise, try to increase the weight or the repetitions. This is called the double progressive method of overload and it is the most effective way to strength train.

Identify a repetition range for each exercise. For example lat pulldown could be 8-12. If you can complete less than eight properly performed reps, move the weight down 5-10 pounds for the next workout. If you can only perform 8-11 proper reps, keep the weight the same but try to add at least one more rep to the next workout. When you can complete twelve or more full range of motion reps under control, then add a small amount of resistance and reset your rep goal back to eight.

A rep is a huge increment and needs to be broken down into an…INCH! Make every inch of every repetition count. Do not cheat yourself by using momentum for one inch. Make progression the driving force in your workouts. Demand improvement from yourself each time you train.

In the short run you are trying to add reps. In the long run you are trying to add weight. Small increases over time will get you where you are trying to go. Ultimately, you will determine your own results, not the program, the coach or the equipment. Look to yourself – your motivation and effort – for the answers.

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