5 Tips to Help You Stick to a 90 Day Big Arm Training Program

The following is an excerpt from Men’s Health’s new study guide 90 Day Transformation Challenge: Weapon. In one volume, you’ll get all the tools you need—information, a nutrition guide, and workouts—to build your arms in just 3 months.

GET A PLAN is one thing. Following that plan to completion is a different task altogether. We’ve all had that workout plan, nutrition advice, or cardio routine that we hoped would lead us to the version of ourselves we want to become. Finding a plan isn’t the part that people have trouble with: it’s the tracking, sticking to the program every day.

understood! Most people start new programs with the best of intentions, but then life gets in the way. Late hours for a work project, a sick child, feeling overwhelmed, or any number of wrenches can derail the program and sometimes you’ll never get back on track. This is the pain point that prevents many people from making the changes they originally set out to make.

Fortunately, that’s all in the past. Here are the top tricks and hacks I offer my clients to help them go from well-intentioned to well-equipped!

1. Pick small goals or mile markers to hit along the way

We all have goals we want to achieve. But often we look toward the goal and it feels almost insurmountable—too big to achieve. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard a client say “I could never do that” before we started working together. The sad part is that we tell ourselves so much that we actually start to believe it.

Instead of trying to take over the health and fitness world in one grand move, start with small victories. Small victories build momentum and your confidence, giving you the capacity to achieve truly great things.

Say for example you want to make a dial. You can’t just grab the barbell, hang there every day and finally stand up – that’s asking too much of your body. Instead, use a progression: Start with grip strength, then work on your back strength, progress to assisted pull-ups, and finally complete a full pull-up. Deconstruct the movement of its component parts, then work in very deliberate steps, attacking it step by step until you master it.

Same with this plan. Building muscular arms will take some time. But don’t feel overwhelmed: Just take a deep breath and trust the process.

How we handle this in the program: Most people abandon their programs because they don’t see results fast enough; their idea of ​​progress is simply too ambitious for the time they have devoted to it. In this program, you’ll notice that we change one variable at a time. We will add a set to the exercise, reduce the rest interval, or make a change to the exercise. This means that bulking, conditioning or progression goals happen in small increments.

2. Make the plan work for you

Don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole. Exercise programs come in all different schemes, modalities, progressions, etc. There are endless variations and types. Honestly, there’s more than one way to do it!

It’s important to find a plan that fits your abilities, the time you have, and your schedule. In fact, this is key. And I’ve found that people realize that. In fact, one of the most common questions I get is “What is the ideal training schedule?”

Unfortunately, I can’t answer this question with a list of days and hours or exact deadlift minutes.

90 Day Transformation Challenge: Weapon

90 Day Transformation Challenge: Weapon

A recent study compared muscle hypertrophy (or growth) in participants who did resistance training six days a week versus those who did it three days a week. They found that when the volume was equal, the results were similar.

What should that tell you? When it comes to exercise, you can’t apply the “more is better” mentality that can work in other areas of life. With exercise, better is better.

Should I exercise in the morning or in the evening? Train when you have the most time and energy. Should I do cardio first or lift first? Do them in the order in which you are most likely to complete them. How much weight should I lift? As much as you can while maintaining proper form. Embrace working on the terms you work for you.

How we handle this in the program: The program is designed so that it does not take up your entire day.

The challenges are short enough to complete on your days off, and the basic workout/challenge combination, scheduled for 4 days a week, only takes about 45 to 60 minutes to complete. It’s flexible so you can do this at your preferred time of day – no leaving work or taking days off to participate!

3. Build solid long-term behavior

It’s not just about committing to the 90-day plan, it’s about creating an environment where you can continue to thrive after that point. The goal is to purposefully make fitness and health your top priority.

Most people have stuck to diet plans or workout routines that are, quite simply, exhausting. You may have received short-term results. But did they last? Most times they don’t. That’s because the program wasn’t fixing the root of the problem, which is your daily behavior.

With this plan, each week emphasizes a specific behavior goal to ensure that this 90-day plan becomes an adventure of a lifetime.

How we deal with this in the program: Each week you will be given habits to work on. These are the long-term qualities that add to your fitness to maintain your physical demands. As with my first tip, these will be little cute markers. Focusing on one thing at a time will leave you with a different mindset at the end of the 90 days. You can see a completely different version of yourself in just three months.

4. Create enough variety to keep it interesting

side view of two athletes training biceps with dumbbells during a functional training class at the gym

Alvaro Medina Jury//Getty Images

There’s a sweet spot with the variety in the programming. If you do too much of the same thing over and over again, it can become a very boring activity with diminishing returns. But if you change things up every time, you’ll be creating a moving target, making it nearly impossible to see any real hypertrophy or changes in physique.

A recent study of exercise variation and its effect on hypertrophy and strength gains found that both redundancy (repetition) and excessive variation interfered with strength and hypertrophy. After reviewing the current studies, the researchers suggested that “exercise variation may focus on incorporating exercises that have similar movement patterns as the primary exercise and induce muscle hypertrophy in the primary motor, while reducing joint stress.”

What does this mean? To get the best results, you need the right amount of variation to handle the extra muscles, slight variations in movement demand, and more advantageous positions to continue strength and hypertrophy.

How we handle this in the program: Small subtle changes in the way you perform an exercise make a big difference in the long run. Even small adjustments like slight rotations of

hand position can change the muscle emphasis on biceps and triceps exercises, creating enough variety to keep the movement fresh and the results coming. We also add exercise techniques such as tempo changes, rest changes, and volume increases to further challenge the muscles.

5. Don’t kill yourself

You will have days where you feel amazing – like a superhero – and days where you feel completely mortal or worse. Happens. And frankly, that’s part of the reason some people start to lose interest or even drop out of their program.

Always remember: If you fall off the wagon, you can get back on. If you miss a workout or two or just have a bad day at the gym, that doesn’t mean you have to throw out the entire program. You can resume it where you left off or a little earlier. Reset and get back to what you want to achieve. Whether you missed a workout, neglected your diet plan at dinner, or didn’t get the sleep you needed, don’t beat yourself up. Just reset and reboot.

How we deal with it on the show: Life happens. Committing to the 90 Day Challenge is the first step, but I also understand that life can change quickly or that some sections of this program may be more difficult than you originally anticipated. If at the end of a phase you find yourself feeling particularly tired or burnt out, you can always restart the previous phase. The goal is to complete this in a timeline that makes sense to you.

Main photo by David Otey, CSCS

David Ottey, CSCS is a New York-based fitness writer, strength coach, and Men’s Health Advisory Board member who specializes in strength and hypertrophy protocols as well as athletic performance. For more information about Otey, see www.oteyfitness.com.

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