There is an endless amount of bodybuilding routines promising exceptional muscular growth and strength. Unfortunately, the results are almost never as advertised.
Whenever a popular lifting routine fails to produce the expected effect, the individual following the program takes the blame because all over-hyped bodybuilding plans have a strong following resembling a cult. Arguing with the brainwashed subscribers often results in pointless Internet battles.
What is the culprit behind the frustrating results? Is the individual lazy and incapable of following a hard routine or is the program overrated?
Honestly, I’ve never done a routine that has worked exactly as advertised. Once I decided to follow a relatively popular pull-up program known as “The Fighter Pull-up Routine” popularized by Pavel Tsatsouline. The routine called for 1 month of massive pull-up volume. Sadly, l failed to recover from my daily workouts and modified the program. I added 3-4 days of rest between every session. It took longer to complete the program, but it worked.
Similar experiences reveal that a lifting plan works only if you mold it according to your needs and your body’s feedback.
However, this is not always met with the greatest enthusiasm by both – the individual and the community.
A good example would be another popular routine – Starting Strength.
While the routine is fine in itself, people often expect miracles from it. On paper, it’s supposed to “work better than steroids for beginners” when done with the GOMAD diet. Well, that plan fails every single time. You should already know that nothing works “as well as steroids”.
In addition, many Starting Strength ninjas fail to draw the line of their linear progression and prolong the routine to reach arbitrary numbers. This approach often fails because linear progression only works for so long before a change has to be made. When will it end for you? Nobody can tell for sure except your body. If you fail to listen, don’t act surprised when you stall.
Ultimately, I am not a fan of following programs exactly as written. I prefer to keep the underlying principles untouched while changing some of the variables. You can think of the whole process as building a new car. All cars work in a similar way, but there are many differences that make every model different.
The Principles Behind a Successful Routine
There has to be a progression mechanism unless the goal of the program is to maintain the current strength levels.
- Sufficient recovery
The number of rest days should reflect the recovery abilities of the individual.
- Good exercise selection
The exercises in a routine should correspond to the goals and the abilities of the individual.
A proper diet reflects the goals of the individual.
When the above conditions are met, the chances of succeeding are much higher than if you were to follow a generic program
What about steroids, baby?
The biggest reason why bodybuilding routines fail is the fact that steroids are behind the muscular growth that people admire. Even if a routine is perfectly designed, you will never look like the popular muscle monsters thanks to it. A development of that magnitude is impossible to achieve naturally regardless of how you train.
– People are not robots and the chances of completing every routine as expected are very small.
– Routines can also fail due to the human factor. A routine does not work unless you do.
– A progression mechanism is a must.
– Your exercise selection should correspond to your goals, abilities and preferences.
– There isn’t a routine that can produce steroid-like results.
– Once you have the principles down, you can make almost any routine work for you. Proper hacking, however, takes experience. Learning from the mistakes of other people helps a lot too.