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Mike Thurston's Views On Training

Nothing worth having comes easy. Training is something Mike loves and will always be something he aims to give 100% in. It's not just about moving heavy weights. How you move them is crucial, and following a suitable programme designed for YOU is the key to progression.

Work for it

I can't pinpoint exactly what it is that makes me love lifting weights. Is it the fact that I'm in complete control? Is it the satisfaction I get once the workout is complete? Is it the fact that I like challenging myself? Or is it the way I can completely zone out once I put my headphones in?

I will always love training. It is something I plan to continue with long into the future for as long as my body will allow it. Yes, I have those rare days where I don't want to train, or when I'm at the bottom of a heavy squat questioning why I'm inflicting so much pain and discomfort upon myself, but those days are rare.

My approach to training is simple - train hard, train consistently, train smart and learn how to be in complete control over your body and your muscles. You cannot expect to see continued progress if you are lacking in any of these. For me, one of the biggest drivers in the gym is knowing that I have pushed myself and given everything I could have possibly given.

With my training I like to keep things interesting. It's rare that I will follow a set programme for too long, I get bored easily and I feel as though my body adapts quickly to any routine which is repeated for long periods of time. I use a combination of resistance training, high intensity interval training and low intensity steady state cardio to reach my goals. I don't believe that cardio is essential to getting myself where I need to be, however it's one way of challenging myself, improving my fitness and conditioning, and allows me to eat more. I would much rather exercise more and eat more, than exercise less and eat less.

I believe that everyone should incorporate some form of resistance training into their lives. Building muscle improves your strength, your body composition and your metabolism.  I also believe that we should all look to challenge ourselves each day, seeking to step out of our comfort zones into the unknown.

Something I see on a regular basis in public gyms, and with many new clients, is their lack of concentration during sets. They go into a set thinking of only moving the weight from point A to B, in the shortest time possible, whilst enduring the least amount of discomfort. It's as if they just want to get it over and done with. I always get my clients to master the basics before moving onto anything else. Everyone should learn to engage the appropriate muscles when performing an exercise, have the movement under control, perfect their breathing and posture, and minimise any momentum created.

I know every trick in the book on how to make an exercise easier, and how to cheat to lift more weight, but that goes exactly against what I'm trying to achieve. If my goal is to maximise muscle hypertrophy, I want to make sure I can place as much tension as possible on the working muscle. What's the point in bench pressing 50kg when 80% of the tension is placed on your triceps and front delts? You're barely working your chest.

After each rep I ask myself, was that the best rep I'm capable of? After each set I ask myself, did I put 100% of my effort into that set? If I don't feel it where I'm supposed to be feeling it, I ask myself why, and look to correct it immediately. If I perform a half assed set, I'll have a word with myself, pull my finger out and beast the next one.

I've been training for over 8 years now and I still have to concentrate more than ever during my sets. That's why half the time I'm training you'll see me with my eyes closed. I feel everything working. I'm at a stage now where I need my training sessions to be as efficient and effective as possible.

You have a limited number of hours per week to allocate to your training. Make those hours as effective as possible and remember, it's not what you lift, it's how you lift.