I once attended a lecture by multi-Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates. As the crowd anxiously anticipated learning Dorian’s secrets, he began his talk:
“Well, for my first exercise, let’s say it’s squats, I usually start with the bar for maybe 12-15 reps. Then I go to 135 for 10-12. Then 225 for 8-10 reps. Then 315 for another 8-10. Then I’ll move to my working weight of 405, where I’ll do 3-4 really hard sets of 8-10 reps. Then I move on to my second exercise.”
I’m paraphrasing Dorian’s comments here, but suffice it to say that his talk was completely devoid of the secret tricks the audience really wanted. Instead, the man with arguably the best physique of all time “let the audience down” by truthfully sharing what he really did to build his body.
The desire for novel information is perhaps the biggest cause of confusion (and hence, lack of progress) for most lifters. This phenomenon is present in all fields of human endeavor, not just training. That’s because truth is often less palatable than “secrets.”
The Two Phases
There are two distinct phases that people go through.
1 – The Inspiration Phase
This is where you’re using a new training program or diet, and you’ve got confidence in this new approach because the article you read about it is by a guy who has a Ph.D. and/or is totally yoked.
And, frankly you’re bored with what you’ve been doing, and the thought of doing anything new strikes you as much more appealing than the same old grind. So you’re re-energized by that “new car smell,” until that is, you do that new program long enough.
2 – The Perspiration Phase
The novelty has worn off and you’re back to the same old routine. This desire for novelty, combined with an inability to stick with the same approach long enough to see a result, is why many people never get anywhere.
Successful lifters know the difference and they reject novelty for the sake of novelty. They know the “secret” is to simply spend more time in the perspiration phase.