Back in 2016 when I was first opening Brentwood Barbell, I placed an enormous amount of effort into providing top-notch strength programming. And while getting stronger is important, much has changed since then. And while our programming has evolved, where we place most of our coaching energy has evolved as well. Spoiler Alert – it isn’t really programming these days.
Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up to one of our original members, Andrew M. He’s been working with me since the “old days”, back when I trained folks out of the local community center. Despite him running a top-notch local business, being a devoted husband and father, and a rec league hockey player, he still manages to find time to train.
You’re not busier than this guy so read up, take some notes, and work on getting your ass in the gym! Also, never trust a guy with your money if he don’t deadlift 🙂
The 6-Year, New-You Plan
In St. Louis, it seems like everyone owns a gym. There are nearly as many gyms as coffee houses. As such, get-fit quick marketing is always front and center on social media. Gyms often make claims about “shredding, torching, and incinerating” calories all whilst reinforcing the high-volume cardio, lift light weights mantra. Our gym uses a slower approach.
We teach our members how to perform the basic barbell lifts every time, no matter their primary goal for coming in to see us. That’s because we know these movements not only offer a potent training stimulus, they also represent long-term potential. The 12lb. DBs you’re using in that 400 rep workout are only going to get you so far but you’ll never run out of room on the barbell. This means athletes that are willing to spend the necessary time on the front end, learning these lifts have the potential to keep getting stronger for a very long time. And in case you weren’t sure, stronger is ALWAYS better, without exception.
While this long-term approach is certainly better, it does require an initial investment on the part of the athlete. We do a good job of adding other elements to their program (traditional cardio, walking programs, nutrition advice, and HIT when appropriate) but the athlete has to understand that lifting weights will make them hot and sweaty when they’re strong enough to lift heavy enough weights that make them hot and sweaty. It’s really that simple and being overly concerned with “torching or shredding” anything at this point in the training career is silly bullshit.
According to Andrew, keeping the long view in perspective has been an important part of his consistency.
The Value of “Getting some Reps In”
While it’s always fun to talk about “how much ya bench”, that’s not often what matters most to our members. While you can find some of them lifting pretty heavy weights, even competing from time to time that’s not really what matters most in our gym. Rather, we find that athletes that set goals around “processes” often tend to fair better over the long term. That’s because we work with regular folks, they work at the library, financial firms, schools, local stores, and other normal places. They understand that value that strength provides but they have a bunch of other stuff going on.
You may be thinking, “this sounds great, but what do procedural goals look like”? Instead of setting a goal to bench press 300 lbs., instead try focusing on following a plan that supports bench pressing that weight, but, aim to follow the program to the letter. If you’re scheduled for 3 sessions per week, center your goals around (1) hitting your workout session total for the month, (2) packing your clothes the night before, (3) taking a post workout shake to the gym so you can get to work on time. You get the idea, remove all the procedural obstacles (some might say excuses) and just enjoy the training. Assuming you’re showing up and working hard, things tend to workout. Even if you don’t hit the 300 mark with the bench press, you’ve still accomplished a lot in running the program as prescribed by you and your coach. Accomplishing smaller goals like these MUST ADD UP OVER TIME.
Decide What Really Matters
I mentioned earlier that back in 2016 we were primarily focused on the latest and greatest programming for strength. That was an important part of our evolution as a business but it isn’t necessarily why we’re a better gym now than we were then. Instead, we’re a better gym because we pour most of our energy into our people. We aim to do simple things like (1) show them how to safely train in a power rack, (2) introduce them to the other members when they’re the new kid, (3) write programs that “fit their lives” because the greatest program in the world isn’t really the greatest program in the world for that client if it doesn’t fit their lifestyle. These are simple things that have evolved over time to make our gym a better place to spend some of your fee time. These habits have also attracted people that are more fun to be around, folks that have interesting lives and want our expertise on how to make effective training a sustainable part of that life. That’s hugely rewarding to us as coaches!
Yeah, You can do Some Curls
This was almost a bad word at one point. Focusing solely on an outcome and not enjoying the process along the way is a great way to burnout. As the title might suggest, consistency is KING when it comes to getting results. Deciding whether an athlete should squat sets of 5s or 3s isn’t really that important in the scheme of the overall experience.
Case in point, we used to scoff at accessory exercises like curls and calf raises. I can remember telling folks “you don’t need that crap, just squat”. While someone may only “need the squat”, it doesn’t mean that’s all they want. I failed to make realize one simple truth, no one has to train at our gym. That early mistake caused us to lose some great athletes. Read another way, if we don’t make their program enjoyable, they quit and getting folks to not train is the opposite of our actual goal. Besides, jacked arms are pretty OK as far as most are concerned.
Thanks again to Andrew for chatting with me on his training consistency. We love having him at the gym and look forward to writing another article when he hits 600!
If you’re thinking about becoming more active and want to increase your strength but aren’t sure where to start, we can help. Fill out our Coaching Application and we’ll get back to you with a free consultation. We’ll take the time to hear your story, find out what you’re looking for, and offer a simple, no nonsense solution to help you achieve it!
Good luck w/ your Training Friends!
James Harris, MPT
Owner, Physical Therapist