by Detric Smith, CSCS, USAW, ACSM-HFI
Performance training for improved looks is a concept that seems to get lost behind the dozens of magazines that promote your favorite bodybuilder and the supplements they’re trying to sell us. However, it can also be used as a means to improve the way you look (along with the proper diet and lifestyle of course), not just the way you perform in your given sport. You might think that you should copy your favorite bodybuilder to look like your favorite bodybuilder, but this isn’t the case.
There are many questions you need to consider when choosing the program that is right for you:
- Do I have over 6–7 hours per week to devote to training?
- Am I training so hard that I need a full week to allow my biceps (or any other body part) to recover in order to improve from my last workout?
- Without using what these bodybuilders use, can my body handle the amount of volume that these bodybuilders can handle?
- Do I need to devote an hour to my triceps? Or can I devote this time to bringing up a weakness that can help with an injury I have?
Our bodies are built to perform, and they need to be treated that way. The following are some changes that you can make to your program to start seeing results that will carry over into your life in the form of improved looks, reduced injuries, and better performance.
- Developing single leg strength is crucial to developing performance and the way that others see you. I’ve seen many men ignore single leg work as something that is only needed for females. Men who take the time to develop their glutes, quads, and hamstrings through single leg work will enjoy the benefits of decreased injury risk, improved power output, and increased attention from the females who (believe it or not) notice more than a man’s muscular chest and biceps. The addition of split squats, step-ups, and lunge variations will go a long way in developing your lower body.
- With exercise selection being the most important component of program design, it is crucial to choose multi-joint exercises. Performing exercises such as squats, deadlifts, military presses, and the bench press with correct technique while adding a little more weight to the bar each week will lead to your quickest results. Multi-joint exercises allow you to hit multiple muscles at once. When you focus on these exercises, you will no longer need to spend countless hours with single joint exercises and machines. The time you save can be devoted to the many other aspects of a successful program.
- Training your core like an athlete will not only allow you to expose your abdominals (if you’re lean) but will help prevent injuries, improve posture, and improve power output. Try replacing your crunches with some stabilization (bridges and side bridges) and rotation work to feel the difference.
- Another aspect of training that seems to get lost with most bodybuilding programs is recovery, which can be seen in what you do before and after lifting and cardio. Attention must be given to improving mobility and stability with a warm up that includes movement preparation and soft tissue work. Static flexibility work after your session is a must and can also be of benefit for some lifters before the session. Recovery work will allow you to push yourself that much harder going into the next session and over the long haul.
Go back to the questions asked above and take a look at what you are currently doing. If what you are currently doing isn’t working, it may be time to change your program with a goal of improving performance.