Anyone that has either worked in the fitness industry or who has wanted to simply just get in shape has experienced the confusing evolution on how to train properly to get in shape. With new research and trial and error in the weight room, methods have come and gone. With all of the information and misinformation out there, it can be tough to figure out what to exactly do to earn the body you desire. While not everything is an absolute, there are some old methods that need to be debunked and new ones that should be taken into consideration.
Below are some old school and new school training methods that need to be addressed:
Old school– The best rep and set method is 3 sets of 8-12 reps
This set and rep range has been the go-to for many. This set and rep method has been coined as the “muscle hypertrophy” training method and many have adapted to this for a long time. The problem is that 3 sets of 8-12 reps won’t work forever. It also neglects a very important aspect of training; building strength. This set and rep range is also not the only way to build muscle.
New School – A combo of low (2-5), medium (6-14), and high (15+ reps), is most effective
By providing your body with multiple different types of sets, reps and loads, you are able to tap into more of your muscle fibers, increase strength, and avoid plateaus.
Old School: Hit each body-part once per week for optimal muscle growth
Traditional bodybuilding methods recommend that you hit each muscle group with endless sets once a week in order to see progress. This done not work for the majority of the population. In order to optimize muscle growth, strength and recovery, hitting each body part once a week is not optimal.
New School: work your muscles at least 3 times per week for optimal muscle growth
High frequency training has been shown to produce more muscle growth and improve strength gains. The more often you hit a muscle, the better chance you have to make gains.
Related: Best Muscle Building Supplements
Old school: Every set needs to be take until complete failure
While this method can produce some great results, it is not for everyone nor can it be done all of the time. True failure his hard to get to due to its biomechanical and neural demands. Not to mention that you need to be one mentally tough person to do this workout after workout.
New school: Leaving 1 rep in the tank for the majority of your sets builds you up, prevents overtraining and reduces the risk of injury.
This type of training will allow for more consistent workouts, prevent burnout, and allow you to really master lifts. It will also help keep you fresh to keep intensity high workout after workout.
Old school: Doing steady state cardio on an empty stomach burns significantly more body fat than cardio with food and during other parts of the day
This method was adapted by bodybuilders for a long-time. It only made sense since the thought was that with less glycogen in the system, more fat would be burned as fuel. This is not always the case and can possibly burn up some precious muscle.
New school: You burn equal fat anytime of day
We now know that whenever you perform cardio it has equal benefits. We also now know that all cardio methods, such as interval training, metabolic conditioning and steady state cardio all have their place in a training program. Utilize each method depending on your individual needs.
Old school: To gain muscle and lose body fat, you must eat every 2-3 hours, 6+ times a day.
Eating frequently for the advanced bodybuilder looking to step on the IFBB stage may be needed but it doesn’t work for everyone. In most cases, it is just not feasible to do for the individual who is just looking to get fit. Fitting in all of these meals can get complicated. Eating frequently does not increase the metabolism like we once thought and in fact it can also reduce insulin sensitivity and cause you to eat unneeded calories.
New school: You can eat 1, 3, 6 meals, or any amount, you just need to reduce nutritional deficiencies.
In the end, it is all about getting in the proper amount of calories and nutrients that your body needs. How you get those in your body is up to you and your schedule.
Old school: You need to take a lot of muscle building supplements
While taking the right supplements is critical for improving health and performance, you should not rely solely on supplementation to make gains. A solid whole food diet should be your foundation to build off of and add supplements where needed.
New school: Stick with the basics after you dial in your diet
When choosing supplements, think about what your body needs. Omega-3 fatty acids to balance your fat intake needs, amino acids and protein for optimal muscle growth and recovery and green food supplements to help get your vitamins and minerals in is a good start.
Keep an Open Mind
Training methods will come and go and there is always new research being published. Nothing works forever and you need to explore new methods in order to keeping making progress. Keep an open mind, be willing to change and find what works for you.
Justin Grinnell is the Owner of State of Fitness in East Lansing, Michigan. State of Fitness opened up just four years ago and is already one of the leading training facilities in the Midwest. State of Fitness has over 450 members who train every day under his leadership. In addition to being a facility owner, Justin has his own blog at www.grinnelltraining.com (link below), and has been a featured writer for over 6 years in the magazine Healthy & Fit and is a writer for Muscle & Fitness.