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It is not enough just to train hard. You need to train hard with a target to beat on every work set you do. The targets to beat in any given workout are your achievements previous time you performed that same routine.
If you train hard but with no rigorous concern over reps and poundages, you cannot be sure you are training progressively. And training progressively is key to making progress. But for accurate records of sets, reps and poundages to have meaning, your training conditions must be consistent.
If at one workout you rush between sets, then at next workout you take your time, you cannot fairly compare those two sessions.
If one week deadlift is your first exercise and following week you deadlift at end of workout, you cannot fairly compare those two workouts. And form you use for each exercise must be consistent and flawless every time you train.
Likewise, if you do 3 sets of bench press and one workout you take 1 minute between sets and next workout you take 3 minutes between sets, you can't be sure that you've progressed from one workout to next.
Get all details of your training in black and white, refer to them when appropriate and get in control of your training. In addition to control over short term, this permanent record will give you a wealth of data to analyze and draw on when designing your future training programs.
Keep accurate records of each workout, each day's caloric and protein intake, how much sleep you get, muscular girths and your body composition. Then you will remove all guesswork and disorder from your training program.
But all of this is just a bunch of words. You have to make theory and rationale come alive with your conscientious and methodical practical application. Do exactly that now, and take charge of your training!
Most trainees have neither organization needed for success nor will and desire to push themselves very hard when they need to. But these are very demanding essentials for a successful fitness program.
Find out how you did in trying to make today another step toward achieving your next set of short-term goals. Have all of today's actions— training (if a training day), diet and rest—met or exceeded goals for day? If not, why not?
A daily critical analysis of what you did and did not do to take another step forward will help you to be more alert to improving tomorrow.
Take a few minutes each day to review your journal.
Take as much control over your life as you can. Learn from your mistakes. Capitalize on good things you have done. Do more of positive things you are already doing and fewer of negative things.
Gregg Gillies is the founder of http://www.buildleanmuscle.com His articles have appeared in international publications such as Ironman Magazine. He has written two books and is a regular contributor to Body Talk Magazine. Check out his site http://www.buildleanmuscle.com