I woke up this morning to an inquiry from someone who began following the site in early December. He came across my blog after watching the compilation video below.
He mentioned how the video had inspired him to increase his weighted dips. It has been six or seven weeks since he began focusing on the exercise. Initially, he experienced solid progress. The weight that he was hitting for five reps had increased gradually from week to week. Unfortunately, he wrote to me in disgust that his early gains had plateaued. It had been two weeks since he was able to add more weight to the dip belt. Clearly frustrated, he asked for modifications that he could make to his program to bring his numbers back up.
His email concluded with the following question:
“What do I need to do to beast it out like you on the regular?”
Unfortunately, I was not able to respond with any earth shattering advice. There isn’t a secret rep range or program to follow that will boost your numbers continuously from week to week. True strength is not developed in weeks. A few weeks is literally a blink of an eye. It takes years to develop truly impressive strength. Many weeks pass where I do not make any gains in any exercise. I also have days where I may not hit as many reps as I did the week before. Yet having a bad day or a period of plateaus does not cause me to panic. I have been around long enough to know that continued gains are hard to come by.
Unfortunately, this seemingly obvious fact is rarely mentioned in today’s industry. It is more common to see short term programs marketed with promises of rapid gains and transformations. How many 30 day miracle programs are available today? Such programs litter the web with enough false promises to make Pinocchio look honest.
Slow and steady isn’t a marketable phrase for an exercise program. People want overnight results. They don’t want a long, arduous journey that is filled with ups and downs. The marketing powers therefore cater their message appropriately to the demand that exists. As a result, the consumer is left frustrated and confused when a week or two passes without noticeable improvements. I receive emails like the one described above on a regular basis.
Therefore, my goal with this informal entry is to provide a much needed reminder that legitimate gains take time. Just because you see a highlight video of me or anyone else does not mean that we don’t have bad days. I’ve had my share of days where I feel everything but beastly. I don’t allow a bad day to throw me off track however. I’m experienced enough to know that bad days come with the territory. It’s part of life.
You can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what caused a bad day or you can let it go and keep moving forward. I choose the latter. I don’t let bad days or missed reps interfere with my quest to improve. I’ve been training regularly for over 20 years now. That’s over one thousand weeks. If I made gains every week, I’d be wrestling with elephants.
In summary, be realistic with your expectations. I’m all for getting beastly in the gym, but there is no such thing as being too good for a bad day. If I find myself stuck in a rut, I do what I have always done. I work, work, and work some more. I continue to grind until I am back on top. Sure, I may trip or fall at times, but I always get up and keep moving forward.
My approach may sound a bit crude or archaic, but it’s always worked for me. I’m not about to change.
“When in doubt, outwork everyone else.”