If you've ever had the experience of driving across country, as I have three times, you've seen the signs that warn "Last Chance Gas -Next Gas 200
Miles." If you're like me, unless your tank was full, you stopped and topped it off. We've all seen enough movies where breaking down in the middle
of nowhere leads to all types of danger. As bodybuilders, we can learn a lesson from this situation with regard to our own training. While peak
intensity might be hard to muster on a regular basis (or ever, for some), what if you treated each workout as if it were your very last?
How's that gonna work, you ask? Obviously you're still going to know that in reality you'll be able to go to the gym again, but you can trick yourself into feeling this is your last chance to train for a long time. Here are a few ideas:
Never train two days in a row. Sound reasons exist for this rule anyway, especially for most bodybuilders who train without the aid of chemicals. Not only are the physical benefits of added recovery time conducive to better workouts, but so are the psychological ones. If you know you're not coming back the next day, you have no chance to make up for a lackadaisical workout. You're less likely to put off chores like ab-training, calves or cardio until next time. Hand in hand with this precept is ...
Train bodyparts every 6-7 days. A lot of bodybuilders train bodyparts two or even three times a week. How intense do you think your chest workout can possibly be if you do it every couple of days? To give your workouts an edge and a feeling of urgency, train bodyparts no more frequently than once every six or seven days. This schedule will serve two purposes: The bodypart will recover better and will more adequately compensate with added size and strength, and your training will take on a whole new level of enthusiasm. Subconsciously you can't help going all out when you know you won't get the chance to hit that bodypart again for a whole week. With all the extra recovery time overtraining need not be such a concern. You'll have plenty of time to recover from the damage a few extra sets can inflict. You can even make a game out of it: How many days can you keep a bodypart sore after one session? A truly kickass leg workout should have you walking funny for three to five days afterward.
Take extra days off every few weeks. If you've ever had to miss training because of travel, illness, injury, or maybe even just work or family demands, you know how you attack the gym with a vengeance on your return. Why not create this situation on purpose every once in a while? Rather than slow your gains, taking a day or so off will recharge your motivation and have you lifting new personal bests within a week. Bodybuilding competitors know the feeling. Typically you stop training the Wednesday or Thursday before a Saturday contest to let the muscles fill out. Many competitors arc soon dying to get back in the gym, and their best workouts often occur in the first days after the event. We've all heard the saying, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone." This adage applies to our muscles as well. They get into a rut from training day in and day out. Take the training away for a few days, and they'll be aching to lift some ball-busting iron.
Set a clear deadline to be in your top shape. Putting intense pressure on yourself with a deadline is a highly effective way of nailing yourself to your goals and ensuring that you follow through on your commitment.
A bodybuilding contest would be the easiest way to do this, but it's by no means the only avenue. These days there are very lucrative opportunities for noncompetitors in the form of supplement company before-and-after challenges. You don't even need to go this route. If you take a vacation where your body will be on display, that's a great time to be in peak shape. Have fun with it. Get a tan, pick out new clothes, and the intense training many people consider hell will be a blast.
Urgency and pressure have created some of man's greatest accomplishments, like the polio vaccine, electricity and the atomic bomb. Why not use some of the same principles to make your body the best it can be? Just as with dead-end jobs and dead-end relationships, many trainers are caught up in dead-end workouts. Treat your gym time with last-chance urgency and watch your muscles grow.