Training Styles: How Were You Born To Lift

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Chad Shaw

There is no best way to train

Ask any successful pro bodybuilder what he thinks is the best way to train and chances are he will tell you that there is no best way to train. The ultimate reason for why a bodybuilder has become successful is because he has found out how his body responds to training, he has found out what works best for him. There are a slew of different training methods out there, from high volume workouts to MAX-OT training and it can be an overwhelming and daunting task to try to figure out “what works for you.” In fact a great many bodybuilders claim that it took them many years before they were able to get a handle on what training style suits them. If one were to use trial and error then it only makes sense that it would take time to develop an understanding of ones preferred training style. To know for sure you’d have to try out every single training method out there!

Instinctive Training

What if there was an easier way then the tried and true trial and error approach? What if sub-consciously you knew the whole time what worked best for you? Many people swear by a training style known as instinctive training. The definition of instinctive training is pretty loose; some people define it as coming to the gym and going completely by feel. They will decide what exercise they are going to do for how many sets and how many reps completely on the fly and at the last minute. They pretty much let their body do the thinking for them.


One could easily argue that instinctive training is the training that works best for each of us, that our body already knows what works best for us to grow and that we should listen to it. Now I’m not suggesting that you should throw out your workout plan and starting going to the gym whenever you want, and I’m definitely not suggesting that you should stop doing leg workouts and start working arms 3 times a week just because you “feel like it.” What I am suggesting is that you should listen to your body, and think about what your training preferences are.

Enjoy Your Workouts

What you enjoy doing holds some truth to what works for you, if you enjoy lifting heavy weights for lower reps with loose (but acceptable) form then maybe you might want to focus a lot of your workouts around that training style. If you feel more comfortable performing higher repetitions and controlling the weight with very strict form then it might be a good idea to stick with that training style. Although it may take years and years to realize our own preferred training style like many suggest, I could be just the opposite. A person’s first workout may hold the key to unlocking the knowledge of how they should be training.

I remember my first workout very clearly, I was 15 years old and completely ignorant when it came to proper training. A couple of friends convinced me to come down to the gym and bench press with them. They gave me a quick run though of the basics on how to bench press, where I should put my hands and that the bar should touch my chest and that was it. I did four sets and called it a day. It wasn’t till years later that those first four sets on that bench press during my first ever workout would end up describing the training style that worked best for me. I performed all four sets with a relatively heavy weight, with sets of 3-5 reps, and in an explosive and by no means slow fashion. I would later come to learn that I was a MAX-OT guy, I grow best with heavy weight and lower reps.

Listen To Your Body

So I suggest that you think back to your first workout, assuming a trainer wasn’t breathing down your neck telling you exactly what to do how did you perform your exercises? Did you do a bunch of reps in a slow and controlled fashion with good form (or as good as you knew at the time), or were you like me and went heavy with low reps? Maybe your body already knows how you should train, all you gotta do is listen.

Writen by Justin Wachholder


DDemey, Berry. “CLASSIC TIP: FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS.” Flex 27.6 (2009): 124. SPORTDiscus with Full Text. EBSCO. Web. 29 Oct. 2010.
Shugart, chris. “Weight Training’s Dirty Little Secret.” Testosterone, LLC, 11-01-2007. Web. 29 Oct 2010.
draper, dave. “Instinctive Training, when and how to do it.” Dave Draper , n.d. Web. 29 Oct 2010.
“Bodybuilding Tips: Understanding Instinctive Training.” N.p., 10-08-2008. Web. 29 Oct 2010.

Pictured: Chad Shaw