Over the years, I’ve analyzed and studied many workout plans, ones that I found in books, magazines, videos and online articles. Most of those plans claim to be the most effective way to achieve that highly-coveted goal of building maximum muscle; or ideally, building “maximum muscle in minimum time”.
But as good as some of those workout plans are, nearly every one of them is plagued by one or more of 6 major problems. And these problems actually prevent the workout plans from being as good as they could be, in regards to delivering maximum results in minimum time.
I list those 6 major problems below:
1) Most workout plans don’t define intensity correctly.
Intensity is the #1 key to muscle growth stimulation. And that’s simply because in order to get a muscle to grow bigger and stronger, you need to subject the muscle to a higher level of intensity than what it is currently accustomed to. Doing so triggers a response in the central nervous system (CNS) that causes the muscle to gradually grow bigger and stronger, to adapt to that higher level of intensity. And the higher the level of intensity, the greater the muscle growth is likely to be.
So in order to build maximum muscle, especially “maximum muscle in minimum time”, you need to achieve maximum intensity for any weight training exercise that you do. That’s simply a law of nature that applies equally to everyone.
And in order to achieve maximum intensity, you obviously need to know what intensity is, as it relates to strength training and muscle growth stimulation. You need a practical, “working definition” for intensity, one that can readily be applied to any strength training exercise that you do. That’s the only way you’ll achieve maximum intensity, and thus maximum growth in the muscles that come into play for that exercise.
Yet amazingly, as important as intensity is, most workout plans don’t define intensity correctly. And many workout plans don’t define it at all, or even address the crucial role that intensity plays in the process of muscle growth stimulation.
And you can be sure that none of those workout plans will enable you to achieve maximum intensity, or maximum muscle growth, from any exercise found in the plan. Because without that definition, how will you know how to go about achieving maximum intensity for any exercise that you do? Obviously, you won’t know how; and you won’t achieve it!
2) Most workout plans don’t show you how to apply the correct definition for intensity effectively to each exercise that you do.
Defining intensity correctly is one thing. But actually applying that definition effectively to any weight lifting exercise that you do is something else. Only when you effectively apply the correct definition for intensity to the exercise will you be able to actually achieve maximum intensity, and thus maximum muscle growth.
That may seem obvious. But out of the 2 or 3 workout plans that I’ve found that do define intensity correctly, none of them actually show you how to effectively apply that definition so as to achieve maximum intensity consistently, for every exercise included in the workout plan. And what good is the correct definition for intensity, if you don’t apply it successfully to achieve maximum intensity, and thus maximum muscle growth?
3) Most workout plans don’t include all of the motions that the human body can perform with weights.
There are at least 35 different motions that the human body can perform with weights. And each of those motions recruits a unique combination of muscle fibers, some of which don’t come into play for any other motion.
So for full muscular development of your physique, each of those motions must be done with weights. If you neglect any of those motions, as almost all workout plans do, you cheat the muscle fibers that come into play only for those motions out of the workout they need to grow.
But when did you last encounter a workout plan that included all 35 of those motions? Probably never.
For example, consider the biceps curl, one of the most popular weight training exercises, and one found in most workout plans. The biceps curl is based upon bending the arm, thereby recruiting muscle fibers in the biceps that come into play for that particular motion. And that motion must done for development of those muscle fibers.
But there’s another motion that recruits different muscle fibers in the biceps from those used to bend the arm. And these muscle fibers don’t come into play when bending the arm. So to fully develop your biceps, this motion must be done as well.
But most people don’t even know about this “other biceps motion”. And it’s almost never found in any workout plans. Which explains why most workout plans won’t fully develop your biceps!
And there’s more: this “other biceps motion” also recruits muscle fibers in your triceps, extensor forearm muscles and flexor forearm muscles. And those muscle fibers too come in to play only for this motion. So for full development of those 4 muscle groups (biceps, triceps, flexor forearm, extensor forearm),this motion must be done.
Yet amazingly, out of all the workout plans I’ve analyzed over the years, I’ve found only one that includes it: The Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger. And although Schwarzenegger deserves credit for including this much neglected and underrated motion in his workout plan, his exercise for it creates no resistance at all for the muscle fibers to work against. So it’s useless for muscle growth stimulation.
Similarly, just as you need to 2 different motions for full muscular development in your biceps, you need to do 3 different motions for full muscular development in your triceps. Yet most workout plans include only 1 of those motions: that of straightening the arm, as done with exercises like the triceps extension and triceps kickback.
For full muscular development in the quadriceps, you need to do 3 different motions. But most workout plans include only 1 of those motions: that of straightening the leg, as you would do with exercises like the leg extension, the squat and the leg press. And so on.
4) Most Workout Plans Contain Contradictions and Inconsistencies Inherent Within the Plan
Out of the many workout plans I’ve analyzed over the years, I’ve rarely, if ever, found one that didn’t have some contradictions or inconsistencies inherent within the plan. And if a workout plan has any contradictions or inconsistencies, that means there’s something wrong with the plan. And in that case, the plan should be modified, to eliminate the contradiction or inconsistency.
For example, one big contradiction in conventional workout plans is this: the bench press is always touted as “the king of chest exercises” in conventional workout plans. Yet it also violates one of the most hallowed rules of such workout plans; which is that you must always use a “full range of motion” for any exercise that you do, in order to achieve maximum muscle growth.
What’s that, you say? The bench press doesn’t allow for a full range of motion!? Yup. It’s just that very few people know it; including the experts!
In fact, the range of motion for the bench press is very small; and you’re limited to your weak range of motion for the chest muscles when doing it. To learn more, read my article The Overrated Bench Press; Dethroning the King of Chest Exercises!
Other popular, highly regarded exercises that violate the “full-range of motion rule” are the lateral raise, the front arm raise and the lat pulldown.
5) Most Workout Plans Include Fallacies and Myths
Most workout plans contain at least some erroneous information that leads to false beliefs. And since our beliefs play such a big role in the decision-making process, false beliefs lead to bad choices; including bad choices during your workout sessions.
In fact, some workout plans (such as the Paleo Workout Plan) are actually built upon a false, erroneous belief, that forms the very foundation of the plan. Read my article The Paleo Workout Plan; Is it Legit?
For example, one of the most prevalent myths out there is that there is a difference between “training for strength” and “training for size”. As a result, many workout plans tell you to do a certain number of reps per set for strength, and then do a different number of reps per set for size.
But there’s no good logic or science to substantiate this belief or way of training. And there never will be. Read my articles Training for Strength vs. Training for Size; Is There a Difference? and Do Reps Really Count? No Magic Number of Reps for Maximum Muscle Growth.
Another fallacy that’s taken hold in recent years is that you can’t develop strength from isolation exercises; only compound exercises build strength.
It doesn’t take much brainpower to defuse that myth. Of course you can build strength from isolation exercises! Otherwise, how would build strength in your forearm muscles, when isolation exercises are all you can do for your forearms? There are no compound exercises for the forearm muscles. The same applies to your calf muscles.
6) Most Workout Plans Overemphasize Compound Exercises
One of the most prevalent and common myths out there is that compound exercises are more effective for maximum muscle growth than are isolation exercises.
In fact some workout plans (such as the Paleo Workout Plan) go as far as to exclude isolation exercises entirely, based upon the false belief that you can build maximum muscle and fully develop your physique, just by doing compound exercises alone.
Bad idea. The truth is that isolation exercises are more effective than are compound exercises, for the purpose of building maximum muscle; especially if you want to build “maximum muscle in minimum time”. And that’s simply because isolation exercises are usually the only way you can achieve maximum intensity, and thus maximum muscle growth in any given muscle.
But with most compound exercises, it’s impossible to generate maximum intensity in any given muscle. The bench press is a perfect example of that. And to learn why this is so, read my article Intensity Defined; Finally!