Training for Maintaining Goals and Fitness Accomplishments

Maintain your Gains

Health and Fitness Resources

During his last visit my student and friend Dave Walmsley of London, Ontario, Canada, took me completely by surprise. We were talking about arm training, and I said to him, "Always train your biceps primarily with barbell curls. In comparison to how much you can lift with a barbell, you can't use more than a few pounds on concentration curls." Well, we live and learn. Dave was quite surprised by my comment. "Oh, I manage about 75 or 80 pounds pretty easily on the one-hand concentration curl," he said. "Huh?" I replied "Well, I get a few good reps with that," he answered casually. "Don't know what I could do for one rep though. Then he smiled. "I'll show you if you don't believe me, he said.

Now, I don't know many men who are as straightforward and honest as Dave is, but concentration curls with 80 pounds is a bit much to swallow. "Yes, I'd like to see that," I said, and we headed directly into my home gym.

Dave was as good as his word. He not only concentration-curled in excess of 75 pounds, bit he added weight and did more. He did reps, and he did them easily, and he left me with the feeling that if he cared to exert himself he could manage 100 pounds-in a few months maybe 110. To me that's a fantastic feat. I use 125 to 130 on regular barbell curls-when I'm working heavy and after a couple of buildup sets. Dave is one of my martial arts students, but we've never really discussed his physical training in depth.

He has always "dabbled" with the weights, he said, and never had a problem. In working with Dave, I got the impression that he was an outstanding athlete, but I didn't realize the depth of his natural ability. As I said, we live and learn. The funny thing was, Dave didn't understand why I was so impressed by his strength on the concentration curl.

As I'm a rather light-framed natural wimp, it's not unusual for me to encounter people who are significantly stronger than I am. Even so, no one likes to be made to feel like someone who died last week. I've always said that anyone can improve and develop through weight training but that some people have a natural propensity for strength. My friend Dave Walmsley is one of them. He's slender by modern bodybuilding standards-in fact, he's not a bodybuilder-and has never touched steroids of any kind. He's also a professional firefighter, a happy family man and a gentleman of the highest order. Why, oh, why, can't we see thousands of Dave Walmsleys enter the bodybuilding field - and save it?

How far you go in developing your physique does depend to a certain extent on your potential. Once you're fully developed, however, the question becomes, How should you train in order to keep what you have?

Let's start by getting a few things straight. When I refer to being "fully developed," I'm talking about having a well-rounded, strong and fit physique that's as big as your hereditary equipment will allow, assuming that your program includes good basic training, a sound diet, adequate rest, a positive attitude, no drugs and a normal, balanced life.

Many people are surprised to learn that it's easier to maintain a top-notch physique than his to achieve it in the first place. Three to four hours of well-planned training time a week is enough to keep the greatest body in shape indefinitely. Here are the key factors for maintaining your physical condition:

1) Interest and enthusiasm

2) Realism

3) Goals

Interest and Enthusiasm

If you want to get the benefits of sensible physical training, you have to make it a lifetime habit. After all, we need exercise and physical training throughout our entire lives, and they can help keep us healthy, fit and strong for decades after it's feasible for us to achieve any sort of ultimate physique or power work. You can maintain your interest and enthusiasm by changing your routine often, trying exercise variations-variations of the sensible basics, naturally- and branching out into other activities that bolster and augment your weight-training endeavors. Martial arts have always been my passion, and they help keep me in good condition. The point is to do what you enjoy because that way you'll continue to do it and make it a lifetime habit.

Having a sport or physical hobby that you love to participate in also gives you a motive to keep at the weights-anyone can do anything better if he or she becomes stronger and stays fit-and it gives you a chance to use your hard-won muscle. It's nice to see and feel the tangible results of your training when you engage in an activity you enjoy.

Another way you maintain your interest and enthusiasm as is to train the way you like to train. There are many different approaches to weight training, and by the time you're ready to shift your workouts toward maintaining what you have, you'll know yourself well enough to be able to regulate what you do perfectly. Follow your inner voice. Go by what you know and understand about yourself no matter what you read or hear. Once you've built yourself up, you may rest assured that you'll be an expert on you. You'll be able to walk into the gym on any given day, know just what you need and accomplish it.


Training isn't all there is to life. Don't be deceived by the mental cases in the field who believe-and who would have you believe-that bulging muscles and symmetry mean more than a happy marriage, a meaningful career or loving friends. Read books. Learn things. Live a balanced existence. Do all of that and keep on training. That's what I mean by "realism."

Remember that no matter how great your potential or how stupendous your accomplishments are when you're young, you won't retain the physique of a Mr. America or the strength of a world-class power champ forever. You will, as we all must, decline. That doesn't mean "collapse"; it means "decline"-and decline doesn't have to mean "lose it all," "become depressed" or "feel worthless." Although you'll experience some physical decline, you can maintain wonderful levels of vitality power and balanced physical development, and you can have a full life in which to enjoy those priceless riches. You can have all that if you train sensibly over your lifetime. Few do. Why not be one of them?

There are spiritual values to life too; and although it may not be popular to emphasize this anymore, I'll tell you that your relationship to God should be much more significant than your relationship to your barbell.


The best suggestion that I can make for anyone who's determined to keep what he or she has developed is to continually set new goals and strive for new and different levels of accomplishment. For instance, focus for a couple of months on power work. There's no need to become a world champion; just become a bit more powerful than you were before. Then alter the course again.

Train to achieve good all-around conditioning for a while. Work with dumbbells only for six to eight weeks, and after that see if you can excel in one or two special or favorite exercises. Goals can be anything as long as they're important to you and as long as you train sensibly and live a healthy life to achieve them.

As John Grimek once wrote, always strive to enjoy your training. That's really the ultimate goal, for if you enjoy your training you'll keep on doing it. I guarantee that if you keep on doing it, you'll have no problem maintaining what you have.

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