The body is an amazing machine. It can process many different kinds of food for fuel. It can recover from almost any sickness that does not overcome its ability to recover. And you can shape it to match whatever vision you have for it in your mind. You want to be strong, your body will adapt and become strong. You want to be fast, your body will become quick and agile. You want to look a certain way, your body will change to that over time. The key to achieving this potential lies in your training.
Proper training requires a few factors to be effective. The first and most often overlooked is warming up. A proper warm-up does not consist of static stretching. Rather, dynamic stretches should be used along with light variations of the movement you are planning on doing that day during your routine. If you will be squatting heavy, for example, you can do a few warm-up sets with body weight squats and overhead squats to prepare the entire chain of muscles for heavy movement. The same parameters can be applied to any exercise, but the important point is to keep fatigue at low levels – warming up should improve, not hinder performance.
Recovery is another often overlooked aspect of training, especially among beginners. Over-training can seriously affect the longevity of any exercise program. Being sore most of the time can affect not only your mood but your performance in the gym as well. To avoid this problem, there should be days dedicated to recovery, as well as light workout days that can be used to train proper form.
The key ingredient to making progress towards your body’s highest potential is increasing the volume or intensity of your workout. This can be done by increasing the weight you use, the number of sets or repetitions you do, or decreasing the rest periods between sets. You can also change up the type of workout you are doing. You can have a few months of training for strength using a strength routine to maximize the amount of weight you can use in the months you will dedicate to hypertrophy or some other goal.
However, you should be mindful of keeping a balance in your training. For instance, too many people focus on training the chest – but to lower the risk of injury, you should also train your back, ideally as much as you train your chest. You should also try to use a full range of motion with all movements. If you cannot use the correct range of motion, you are probably using too much weight, which teaches you bad form and could lead to injury down the road.
Adaptation takes a while to happen. You should not look for instant results. The ones who get these immediate results are usually either untrained, or have trained a lot before but have stopped. For people who are not extremely sedentary who start on an exercise program, changes can realistically happen within a few months.
Remember to train your body as a unit – the best-looking physiques are that way because of their ability to perform. Here is a good read on the anatomy of muscles and their functions.