Have You Improved?

By MaXimus Mark

As the comp season for 2010 has ended Ms Olympia, Janet Kane and I got talking about friends who have made monstrous improvements in the years just gone and those who just seem to look the same at every show.

In the “show” of bodybuilding a winner is crowned on stage.

Some agree, some argue, some bitch and moan for years.

Regardless! The whole purpose of many competitors is to improve upon their efforts of the last show.

So have you improved? What have you changed?

Most of the time people can answer this in one easy word…



The question must be raised, why bother competing if you look the same or even worse? A competitor that improves show to show is a winner- regardless of where the judges place them. A competitor who looks the same at every show is noticed but not in a favourable way.

For Janet and I, it is an expectation that we are constantly improving. I sometimes have to remind Janet of this fact after a massive deadlifting session; that she needs time to recover to actually improve when she wants to train, train, train!

Erros 2008 – First Bodybuilding Competition

Erros 2010 – Strong Man Competition at 105 kilos

Erros is a great example of a ‘monstrous’ improvement – check out this guy’s effort on the Atlas Stones!

The definition of insanity is – “doing the same thing every day and expecting a different result.” Do you honestly think you’re going to get a different result doing the same 3 sets of 10 or 3 sets of 6?

One of the problems is people wanting to identify themselves a “bodybuilder”. The label often constricts to being faithful to the one training method.

Changing your training ideals does not mean you were wrong to begin with. Changing your training regularly is absolutely necessary to ensure stagnation does not occur.

This is not an article about how to change your training but rather a wake up call to many people who do not bother to change what they are doing…

Take a look at years gone by photos and answer this question…



If you can say “absolutely” with confidence, I congratulate you.

Janet Kane 2006 (above)

Janet Kane 2009 (Above)

Janet and I started training together late 2007. Ever since, our training continues to move in leaps and bounds

However, if this is a wishy washy, yes, or ‘yeah sort of’ consider that your approach is not working and it’s time to try something different.

Successful training needs planning, structure and variety of stimulus. Changing for the sake of changing is silly. You need to plan it. Accept that “this is a strength phase”, or “this is a fat burning phase”.

The problem is; people are diluted in there thinking that they are going to:

  • Build Muscle
  • Burn Fat
  • Get Stronger
  • Increase Flexibility
  • Rehab an Injury
  • Be able to compete in bodybuilding
  • Be able to compete in strongman
  • Be able to compete in powerlifting
  • Be a sick arse UFC fighter
  • Increase their conditioning
  • And cure all their diseases

In just one program!

Folks, it doesn’t happen. That’s why I sell personal training in packages… To get results!

To get real results that you can take to the bank, get someone to plan your training in phases, knowing what the end outcome is.

And this is exactly what I do for Janet and regular clients alike. Call it ‘periodisation’ if you must, however there is no substitute for proper planning. Proper planning at times can be ego shattering. Not something that most people want to face.

For example, this month you would laugh your arse off if you saw the weight Janet and I were using on leg day doing full range single leg squats to improve knee and hip function and strength. Without this corrective phase we would both be frustrated in our training wondering why our lifts haven’t gone up. If you know what to look for, it becomes blaringly obvious what’s actually holding you back.

“Take one step back to take two steps forward”

If you are ever going to improve, weaknesses must be addressed through corrective training. That means you are going to do ‘non bodybuilding movements’ and probably be using the pink dumbbells.

The current program for both Janet and I, is a corrective and general preparatory phase that will follow on to a relative strength phase.

Now for the bodybuilders out there, you might be thinking, why the hell would you care about strength if the goal is muscle?

The first point here would be to mention that my number one goal is not muscle 100% of the time. Many bodybuilders get stuck in the belief that muscle is the ONLY reason to train. While I find this a noble purist, natural athletes will gain far more training for strength as well.

Number two, using Janet as an example whose number one goal is muscle, if we can get Janet stronger via the nervous system this will enable her to lift much heavier weights in the hypertrophy range, thus resulting in more muscle later on. This approach could be called, “taking one step back to take two forward.”

Mark 2004 (left)             Mark 2007 (right)

So in saying this, when planning Janet’s training, the only concern is, is the training program having the desired effect?

Again, if it’s a fat loss, hypertrophy (muscle) or strength phase, that’s what we focus on.  Mixed programs give mixed results and not changing your training gives you the same result.

As I have said for many years, in your training you want enough sameness to measure improvements but enough difference so the body never adapts.

Tristan Boyce 2009 (left) and 2010 right

Tristan is yet another great example of consistent improvements - good thing for the competition that he is taking 2011 off competing to improve!

By MaXimus Mark

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