When I was about 14 years old I started lifting weight, before that I used to do press ups, pull ups and a copious amount of sit ups. This time of life was when I started reading up about training and nutrition, this is where my passion for health and fitness truly began.
Now, I read somewhere at the time that weight training can stunt your growth (which I now of course know to be a myth), me being one of the smallest in my class I did not want to take any chances. So, rather than doing big heavy compound based movements I just did bicep curls and skull crushers, basically just used wights to train my arms, everyday’s a gun day, you might say I was living the dream!
Let me breakdown my training plan at the time:
Warm up - Sit down on my preacher curl bench (had one in my bedroom) and put a film on.
A1 - Preacher Curl
Reps - As many reps as possible
Sets - As many sets as possible
Biceps done, now time for triceps
B1 - Skull crushers with a tricep bar
Reps - As many reps as possible and always going to failure
Sets - As many sets as possible
3 hours later once Lord of the Rings had finished and a copious amount of blood had been pumped into my little arms, my session was complete.
I did this 3-4 times per week, sometimes is was a long film and other times it was a shorter film, maybe something like Little Nicky or even Rocky if I wanted to get motivated!
There was no real method to my madness, but I thought if my arms have nothing left in the tank, then they’ve had a good workout. I also loved watching films (still do) and I thought I might as well get some gains whilst enjoying a film.
Let’s talk about the results…….they were amazing, and I’m not kidding, my arms grew a crazy amount! This is where I got my first “Are you on steroids?” compliment, where I would reply with nope, but thanks for noticing (whilst revealing the gun show).
Let’s talk about how I got such good results with a training method which had as much structure as the Brexit negotiations….
Training Intensity - I was always using a decent weight (for a 14 year old weighing around 50kg) and I took my muscles to the limit each time trained, if you take your muscles to the limit they are forced to develop.
Metabolic stress/cell swelling - Nearing the end each session/film I always wanted my arms to look pumped, the pump feels good, for those of you who don’t know how good a Pump Feels watch Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Pumping Iron, he describes it better than I ever could, essentially he says it “feels like cumming”…..his words not mine. Metabolic stress is a way in which muscles develop, a mechanism of hypertrophy, as blood gets pumped into the muscles by the arteries, the steady muscular contractions will prevent the veins from letting blood escape, resulting in high levels of metabolic stress and cell swelling.
Training Volume - My arms received a high amount of volume (reps and sets) which is obviously a huge factor when it comes to developing muscles tissue.
So what can we learn from 14 year old Andy out of proportion Griffiths and what do advanced lifters get wronged that beginners get right?
Well I’m referring to the sheer intensity of the sessions, advanced lifters will often look at a session and tick things off like progressive overload (lifting more than the previous session), muscular damage (concentrating on failing the micro tears in the muscles as well as that mind muscle connection) and of course getting a pump (metabolic stress).
Let me ask you this one big question which should sum up this article - Did you really take the final set of the exercise to failure or did you have 2, 3 or even 5 more reps left in the tank?
This might seem obvious, but I find advanced lifters quite often just go through the motions of their session without actually taking things to their true limit.
Have you ever seen that guy in the gym who’s absolutely jacked, training like a grenade has just gone off in the weights area containing random exercises, reps, sets and 500mg of caffeine? Well this is because he trains harder than everyone else (and yes he might me on steroids), structure is not as important when compared to sheer hard work! When looking into advanced training methodology we can often overlook the basics, like are you truly training hard enough?!