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4 Lessons to be Learned from Fitness Giants

With fitness advice coming from seemingly every direction, sometimes it helps to follow the paths and workout routines of people who have thrived. Here are four lessons from some of the most successful individuals in the fitness industry:

It Helps To Have A Plan

In an interview with Piers Morgan, actor and professional bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger shared his secret to success: Having a plan, then working strenuously towards it. His focus and positive mindset helped him achieve his goals.

“When I trained in the gym and everyone was running around huffing and puffing, I had a smile on my face,” said Schwarzenegger. “I couldn’t wait to do the next squat with 400 pounds, I couldn’t wait to the next 20 chin-ups, I couldn’t wait to do the next 500 sit-ups, because to me, that meant one step closer to achieving that vision and making that vision a reality.”

Train Smart, Not Just Hard

A typical schedule for any gym rat would involve dozens of different types of lifts and likely just as many machines and apparatuses used on different days. The upper body might be worked on Monday, the lower body on Tuesday. Although this may work for some, there are others who crave for something simpler.

With StrongLifts, webmaster Mehdi Hadim claims to have devised a simple, navigable, and effective 12-week workout that could yield results without using supplements or “wasting hours in the gym.” His secret is free-weight exercises like the Squat, Bench Press, and the Deadlift, all of which use and work multiple parts of the body simultaneously. These exercises are performed five times in sets of five three days a week, which is similar to the split that was used by Schwarzenegger’s idol: legendary bodybuilder Reg Park.

However, the basics are still important. Although StrongLifts is fairly straightforward, Hadim warns that must have proper form and maintain a healthy high-protein intake to ensure results. Within time, Hadim claims that program adherents will gain solid muscle rather than unsightly love handles.

Although Workouts Should Be Intense, Progress Should Be Slow And Steady

In P90x, celebrity fitness trainer Tony Horton often advises initiates not to be heroes right off the bat — and for good reason. Because first-timers may not be used to the intensity of the workouts, they risk greater injury or even loss of interest from a perceived lack of progress.

Programs like StrongLifts and Starting Strength encourage exercisers to add weight incrementally in order to foster progress while ensuring maximum safety.

Compound Exercises Are Key

Push-ups, sit-ups, squats, deadlifts, and lunges can be found in many martial arts and strength training regimens because they tone and build many parts of the body within a short amount of time. These are several examples of compound exercises, for which both Hadim and renowned powerlifter Mark Rippletoe share an affinity. Compound exercises focus on multiple body parts rather than isolating them individually, which first-timers often do to little or no effect. Rippletoe describes Starting Strength, his patented weightlifting program, as a “long-term process designed for getting stronger over time, not a random collection of exercises that just make you hot, sweaty, sore, confused, and tired.”

Hadim’s StrongLifts program revolves around the frequent use of the low-bar barbell squat, which works the hamstrings, quads, glutes, adductors and calves. Along with the deadlift, which helps build a strong lower back, the squat is a must for anyone who values the benefits of leg day. Finally, the bench press and barbell row can help build a sturdy upper body.