I haven’t done a lifting thread for a while, so the new year is a good time to put out another one. This is the time of year when gyms are besieged with newbies, the vast majority of whom will be gone within three weeks. I’ve seen a few messages around saying that we need to treat these newbies, who will get in our way and don’t have a clue about gym etiquette, with patience and understanding.

That’s nice and all, but another viewpoint would be to crush newbie gym goers, see them driven before us and hear the lamentations of their women. Just a thought.

Anyway, at my local gym they have a large chalkboard wall where members can write what their goals are for the year. I have never written on the board because I am not a moron. But I was there the other day when a staff member rubbed it clean and fresh. There it was in all its terrifying blankness. Who would be the first one to write on the board? Everyone pretended that the blank board wasn’t there.

So I thought, fuck it. I’ll write on the board. And I actually had something semi-decent to write, at least I thought so anyway.

3 days a week, every week, no exceptions.

That’s what I wrote. I wanted to add something at the end like, “don’t be a pussy or a soft cock” but the staff member frowned at my suggestion. So much for liberal Holland.

I reckon that consistency is one of the most important aspects of being successful with your training, but it’s not the only one. I had a think about this and I came up with the following points which I reckon are critical for getting decent results in the gym.

  1. You need a solid workout routine.
  2. You need correct technique.
  3. You need to be consistent.
  4. You have to embrace the pain.

Miss out any one of these and it’s just not going to work for you in the long run. It’s pretty easy to get some results in the first couple of months, but after that you’ll plateau, you’ll get frustrated, you’ll get a crimp in your leotard, and it’s all downhill from there.

Number 1 is pretty straightforward. Without a decent plan you’re just swinging and missing. It’s easy to see guys in the gym without a plan. They randomly move from one contraption to another; lift items in a desultory manner; do one set at one station, three sets on another one, with no cohesion or thought as to what they’re doing. Gone in a few weeks.

Lots of places to get good plans. Post your favorite workout routines here and we’ll make fun of them for you.

Number 2 is so important I can’t even begin to describe it. But I will. It’s really important. Really good technique will translate not only into really good results, but also much less chance of any injury. Weight programs that emphasise using incorrect form in order to life more are not your best friend forever. Not even a little bit. Get a good trainer to get your form right from the beginning so that you don’t develop bad habits which are harder to fix later down the track.

Number 3 has been my problem over the last 6 months. I’ve just had 3 weeks holiday and in that time I’ve made damn sure that I got back to a consistent level and it really makes a huge difference. Not just in your results but also in your ability to blow through pain. Which leads me to the last one on the list.

Number 4. You have to come to terms with the fact that it never gets easy in the gym. If it’s easy then you’re not doing it right. You’re not lifting heavy enough, and heavy is where it’s all at. So yes, in a few months your current max lift weight will be your warm up weight, but that just means that you’ll have a new max lift weight and that means that it will still hurt. In other words, you never arrive with this stuff. You should always be sucking air into your lungs, hands on your hips, and head raised in agony after doing a set of proper weighted deadlifts. Where you can’t even immediately sit down to recover because it hurts too much.

I tell you what though; the next day you feel absolutely awesome. There’s nothing quite like the reality of feeling tight. Feeling your muscles are there even when you’re just sitting at a desk typing out these words as I’m doing now. You owe it to yourself to be in that physical state.

Happy lifting year, you soft pricks.