Building a Foundation
As a fitness professional and competitive natural bodybuilder, I understand just how important it is to “build the foundation” when it comes to building muscular size and strength.
However, unfortunately building a foundation is something that is neglected by many. Skipping this essential part of your weight training is like diving straight into the deep end of a swimming pool before you have learned to swim.
Before we jump straight into large amounts of sets, advanced training methods, and multiple number of exercises, we need to have the basics nailed. Now, although the “basics” sounds a little boring compared to the advanced exercises and training methods that you may see around you, the basics are the best for packing on maximal lean muscle mass, increasing strength, improving core stability and developing flexibility. Just to name a few… talk about bang for your buck!
Now, when it comes to building the foundation I would recommend starting off with something that you are comfortable with. Maybe split the exercises over many days throughout the week to keep your mind and body fresh for each exercise that we are trying to learn and develop. For example. Your weekly training programme could be split into an upper body/ lower body split. Or perhaps even a lower body/upper body push/ upper body pull split. In terms of exercises I would recommend focusing on mainly compound exercises with few isolation exercises added on to the end of the session. The compounds that I would recommend focusing on would be the squat, deadlift, bench press, shoulder press and the barbell row. These exercises I believe will give you the most “bang for your buck”. When it comes to number of sets, reps and rest period I would recommend starting with a small amount of sets, moderate/high reps, and as much rest in-between sets as you need for you to recover ready for the next set. For example, this could look something like 2 sets of 12-15 reps, with 2 minutes rest in-between sets.
Now, when it comes to progressing on these lifts, I would strongly recommend looking at decreasing the amount of reps and increasing the amount of weight being used once comfortable to the exercise, form, technique and tempo. Once you have lowered the rep range to preferably around 6-10 reps, I would keep that rep range the same and start focusing on increasing the amount of weight being used for that rep range. This is what we call progressive overload. This means that we are progressing.
In terms of number of sets, I would recommend keeping them as low as possible for as long as possible, allowing us to focus on increasing the amount of weight that we are using. The reasoning behind this is if we were to use sets as our path of progression then we would find ourselves performing set after set after set on the same exercise meaning we must keep increasing the amount of time spent in the gym. And in months/years to come we would find ourselves having to spend 3,4,5+ hours in the gym for us to maintain the volume of our training sessions.
So… to sum things up, keep things simple, basic and efficient to start with and once the basics are nailed then you can start focusing on adding in the fancy stuff alongside the basics.
Remember, sometimes less is more!
For any further questions on “building a foundation” please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Thanks for reading, Jake.