Most fitness and bodybuilding “rules of thumb” don’t stand up to rigorous scrutiny. Meaning, they’re usually kinda bullshit.
Though one (or two) that seem to be true are:
– People do too much off the wrong stuff
– People don’t work hard enough
What’s the wrong stuff?
– Junk volume. Garbage sets with poor form, no focus, or lacking the intensity required to elicit a result, i.e., farting around in front of the dumbbell rack.
– Redundant work. Too many sets stressing the same muscle group or position on the strength curve (such as barbell curls then standing dumbbell curls and then cable curls, all in the same session)
– Dead horse work. When you work up to a personal best for an exercise and then, for whatever reason, decide to try do it again. Good one.
Also can be continuing to do sets well after performance has dramatically dropped.
– Too much warming up. You don’t need 18 fancy mobility drills before a typical gym workout. You also don’t need to a bunch of re-hab work if you’re not fucking hurt.
Remember what Mr. Miyagi said: best re-hab, no get injured.
As for not working hard enough?
No one likes to be told they’re soft (myself included) but being “exposed” by someone more advanced (or more focused) is one of the best lessons in life.
I’ve hated it every time (and its happened a lot) but I’ve appreciated it even more.
Sometimes more IS better but there’s a very clear point of diminishing returns.
But better is ALWAYS better.
That rule of thumb is never wrong.
Overhead pressing is tough to beat for building the shoulders.
Unfortunately it can be highly problematic, especially for people with poor mobility. Some people even have “genetically shit shoulders” right outta the gate, though believe it or not, that’s not the technical term. Oh well.
Many will choose to suffer through pain like some kind of gym martyr. Just get more and more soft tissue treatments and hammer the Advil — until even that stops working and they’re stuck doing a dork’s brew of banded side raises supersetted with regret.
However, here’s some overhead pressing options for older/beat up guys:
– neutral grip DB press (1 or 2 hand)
– landmine presses (1 or 2 hand)
– limited range machine presses (use a spotter to start from eye level)
– limited range barbell overhead presses (use pins to start from eye level)
– scrape the rack presses (drive the barbell forward and up).
Deloading weeks, active recovery/restorative weeks, total training breaks ALL have their place. But they work best when used practically and intelligently.
Delaying a week of deloading (doing less) when you’re already sleeping terribly and not making progress all because “your schedule says to keep going another 2 weeks” is stupid.
Your body is telling you its time. It knows best. Adjust your spreadsheet (and then adjust your life).
Similarly, pulling back and doing less when everything just feels awesome and progress is being made is also foolish.
No good thing lasts forever but that doesn’t mean you should pull the chute early just cause its some arbitrary day on the calendar.
And for the love of all thats holy: at the start of every month (or quarter) look at your real life schedule and determine when your life will be extra draining– tax season, travel, selling your house — and THEN consider those periods for training breaks/restorative weeks or volume reductions.
If it throws off the template, don’t worry. You’re much more complicated than that.
This is how training becomes a lifestyle, not just a thing you do as hard as you can and then burnout.
This is how you own the process, and the process becomes you.