Workout progression is the key to building muscle, strength and performance. All of the other stuff, like your routine, exercises and equipment you use are merely details. It’s the progression of your exercises and routine that gets you what you want.
There are a number of myths surrounding workout progression that I wanted to address today. These myths can create a lot of stress and frustration that doesn’t need to be there. In some cases, they can prevent your progress and even lead you to quit.
Myth #1 Progress is a continuous process
Plateaus and even regressions are a natural part of the progressive process. Everyone experiences times when they can’t seem to make any headway. I know plateaus and regressions are not fun but they are not a sign that something is wrong with your approach. If anything, they are sign that you’re on the right track.
By all means, take the time to look at what you could be doing to improve and break out of the plateau, but know that slow progress is often part of the deal. The modern media loves to portray the highlight real of someone’s success. We always see the moments of glory when all of the years of hard work and struggle pay off. This portrayal of success promotes the idea that progress is supposed to be a much smoother journey than it often is. It’s natural to have self doubt when your journey doesn’t seem to match with what we hear about in the news.
Myth #2 Progress comes from one or two factors
It’s easy to believe progress comes from just lifting more reps or eating fewer carbs. A lot of programs and theories promote the idea that there’s only one or two variables involved and focusing on that narrow perspective is all you need to do to achieve your dreams.
The reality is that success in any large endeavor is a very multi-faceted ordeal. There’s a lot more to weight loss than carbs and cardio. Building muscle requires a heck of a lot more than just more weight and reps. Sleep habits, breathing, mindset, personal beliefs, emotional attachments to food, recovery, and skillful technique are all part of the picture and play a very large role in your success.
Focusing on just one or two variables not only creates a dependence on those factors, but it also makes you turn a blind eye to multitude of variable that play a role in your workout progression. Keep a wide scope of attention so you not only can achieve far greater results but also don’t stress out too much over a limited range of influences.
Myth #3 You can do it all on your own
There’s no such thing as a self-taught rocket scientist and there’s no such thing as someone who’s gone from zero to hero without anyone’s help.
As I explained in my book Fitness Independence, how far you progress is directly related to how much you know and understand about your mission. If you’re not learning, you’re not growing no matter how hard you work.
You can learn a lot about workout progression from a coach, or even a friend who’s achieved what you want to accomplish. Spending even a few minutes with someone who can help you will teach you more than you can learn on your own over the course a whole year.
Personal one-on-one teaching or coaching is the gold standard since someone can personally evaluate what you’re doing and be there to teach you. From there, the more removed you are from a teacher the less direct benefit there will be. This blog post is a good example. I’m not physically with you as you read these words so I can only bring you so much value. On the other hand, reading blogs like this are much less expensive than paying for an hour of my time. Both in-personal and remote learning is valuable. As long as you’re learning you open the door for potential workout progression.
#4 You’re doing enough
One of the biggest myths is the one we all tell ourselves, that what we’re doing is enough. That we’re putting in enough time and effort and that we should be getting more out of our workout.
Fitness and life are always a pay-to-play system. You get what you pay for and if you’re not getting what you want you’re simply not paying enough.
Sure, some people need to work twice as hard for half of the results, but that’s sometimes how it works. Back in school I had friends who could study 20 minutes for a test and get an A. I would study all day and get a C.
Life isn’t always fair, but sometimes that’s a good thing. If you feel you should get stellar results with a minimal amount of effort then you’ll always be disappointed. There’s a certain freedom and joy from knowing that you can still get what you want, you’ll just have to do a lot more than you originally thought you needed to do to get it. That’s still a lot better than doing what you think is enough and being frustrated when the results don’t come.
Check out this week’s podcast for more details on these 4 myths and how you can over come them to make the workout progress you deserve: