A Proven Way To Increase Consistency With Your Diet & Exercise


Do you struggle consistently sticking with something?

Know what you SHOULD be doing, but struggle to consistently do it time and time again?

The diet you keep trying to follow that you have to keep “getting back on track”.

Or the exercise routine you swore this time you were going to stick to, but somehow you’ve told yourself that 6x in the past 2 weeks..

Through coaching thousands of people, I believe consistency to be the #1 MOST important thing when it comes to fitness.

If you cannot do something over and over, there is no chance you will be able to see results.

Whether the results you want is fat loss, muscle building, or just living a healthier life. If you cannot find a way to come up with the tools to do what you are supposed to do, over and over and over again, there will be no progress occurring.

In this article I am going to label out one of the most effective, most responded to ways to create consistency I use with my online coaching clients.

At the end of the day, all of this comes down to psychology. Most people KNOW what to do, eat healthier, exercise regularly, etc.

But, why do so many people struggle for the life of them to do it?

We are going to cover that in this article, and one simple, NOT EASY, but simple strategy you can take with you today to start seeing change.

Let’s open up that brain of yours.

Before I Get Any Farther


I have to say this.

If you study psychology, there is something called the Trans Theoretical Model Of Behavior Change (pictured above).

This simply states there are different stages to making a change. Through working with people, as hard as this is for me to accept, some people are simply not ready to make a change to their behavior.

They could say they are, they could swear up and down they want to, but in reality in their head, they are not ready to.

And, even though this is sounding like a bad thing, it really is not. This doesn’t mean you NEVER will be ready to make a change, but you have to be mentally ready first.

A lot of the times, the people that are ready to make a change say things like “ I’m tired of yo yo dieting. I can’t do it anymore”. “ I’m sick of living like this, I need to make a change”.

Point being, as Jordan Syatt discusses in my podcast I did with him , there normally is some sort of fear involved with truly making a behavior change.

The fear of their health. The fear of them not looking the way they want infant of their colleagues. The fear of losing a spouse.

Whatever that fear is, it is not a BAD thing, because it leads them to change.

I urge you to ask yourself if you are truly ready to make a change or not.

I can give you all the tips and tactics in the world, but unless we figure out if you are truly ready, they won’t do anything for you.

Only you will be able to be honest with yourself on that.

Alright, having fun class? Let’s continue to the next section.

Why Do So Many People Struggle With Consistency?

This is the million dollar question.

As I was saying earlier, people KNOW what to do. You probably know you shouldn’t be having 4 glasses of wine a night, with the extra side of bread, oh and on top of the workout you skipped today..

But, really, WHY do SO MANY PEOPLE do this?

Why is our obesity rate higher than it has ever been in the history of the United States?

Why are so many people on blood pressure medication, or better yet buying fat burners from GNC… Don’t get me started.

The answer is actually quite simple when you boil it down.

People choose the emotional in the moment response vs the logical outside of the moment response.

Think about it.

You just got off from a long day of work.

You woke up at 5am, got to work by 7am.

Have the normal stress associated from work.

You get off, sit in traffic for an hour.

You get home, and you’re tired.

You don’t want to go back out and workout.

So, THAT emotion in THAT moment, dictates your actions. So, you say F the gym, I’ll do it tomorrow.

That then leads into dinner.

You are tired, and now hungry because you just worked all day, didn’t really plan your food out, sat in traffic, and get home starving.

So you are now tired, and hungry. This emotion spills over into dinner. You have 2 or 3 servings of the dinner, when you really know one would probably be good enough.

Finally, going into the night. You are now stuffed from dinner, so you are a bit lazy / sleepy. You probably don’t feel the best about yourself because you just stuffed your face, and skipped your workout.

You are stressed from work and your kids.

All of this combined, the feelings in that moment, may lead you to go to the cabinet and get the wine bottle and have a few glasses.

This cycle repeats itself 1, 3, 5x a week.

All of this stemming from, you choosing the emotional in the moment response to a situation vs the logical out of the moment response.

Let’s break it down.

You got home and you were tired. In that moment, all you could think about was being tired. You didn’t wanna go workout, you didn’t want to cook dinner and plan your food out.

You just wanted to lay there and eat whatever the F you wanted.

Keep this scenario in mind.

Let me give you another.

Your kid wakes you up at 2, 4, and finally 6am.

You are now dragging a** to get into your regular routine.

You normally take 10-15 minutes to cook breakfast, but all you can think is how damn tired you are, so you say screw it and skip.

Running late as it is, you don’t pack and bring your normal lunch or gym clothes either. You say you will get something around work, and come back home and grab clothes later.

Lunch time comes, you are STARVING because you skipped breakfast. Now all you can think about in that moment is how tired AND starving you are.

This leads you to go get lunch and probably eat enough for the size of a small village.

You don’t feel the best from the big lunch and being tired, so you just go home instead of going straight to the gym like you normally do.

You see? This scenario too, all you thought about was the emotional response in the moment of being tired and hungry.

Learning how to take yourself out of the moment you are in..

This is where the unlock can come.

“Live In The Moment”.. Yeaa

All you ever really hear is how you life is too short, you need to live in the moment.

You need to enjoy every moment as it comes.

Well, I am here to offer my two cents on that for what it is worth.

Yes, every moment counts, and shouldn’t be taken for granted..

But, when it comes to building consistency and doing what you know is right, living in the moment should be the last thing on your mind.

I am not the biggest religious guy, and I am not sure if you are or not.

But one thing I do know is what a lot of the talk about is how you cannot give in every single temptation that comes your way.

If you gave into every single temptation out there, I guarantee there would be a lot more crime, and a lot more chaos in this world.

Guys, fitness is no different.

Let’s dissect here.

In both examples above, you gave into the emotional in the moment response of being tired, hungry, stressed, etc. Which led your decision making being based off of that emotional response.

Then, that decision led you then feeling even worse about yourself.

You gave into the emotional temptation, you now feel bad about it. This creates bad self efficacy, and leads you to believe you can’t do something, or can’t stick to something.

Which then creates this cycle in perpetuity of you being inconsistent.

Do you want to know the way to work through this?

Take yourself out of the moment, give yourself 5 minutes to think about WHAT DECISION IS GOING TO MAKE YOU THE MOST PROUD 4, 8, 24 hours from that moment.

That, is truly where the magic comes into play.

Keeping with the scenarios above.

If when you got home from work, even though you were tired and hungry, if you took yourself OUT of the moment, and thought about what decision was going to make you the most proud looking back on that moment..

I bet it would go something like, still going to the gym even though you were tired, and still taking the extra 5 10 20 minutes to cook a healthy dinner, and stick to your nutrition goals.

That would make you a lot more proud than saying F it, laying on the couch, over indulging on dinner, and flushing it down with wine.

But when the emotion / temptation pop up, people don’t think about that, they can only see what it is front of them, being the feeling of tired, hungry, stressed, etc.

That is all that is on your mind and all you are thinking about.

I implore you, and I mean implore you, to take yourself out of the moment, and think about what decision you make will make you the most proud.

Is this easy? Hell no.

This is hard. This takes a lot of mental effort. This takes a lot of practice. It won’t happen over night. It won’t happen after a week.

It is hard to look past the initial temptation of feeling stressed and looking at what decision is going to make you the most proud 4 hours from right now when you are feeling stressed.

If it were that easy, we wouldn’t have the highest obesity rate we ever had, and people wouldn’t be on such crazy amounts of medications at such a young age.

It is going to take a lot of effort from you. I am telling you this not to sell you on something, or to make you sign up for coaching with me, none of that. If I was this would be an awful way to do that.

I am telling you because I want to set you up for success. I want to give you the real environment you will be heading into, so you know what to expect.

So when you go to try it, and realize it is a bit hard, it is normal.

But just like riding a bike, or learning to become the skill of whatever your job is, the more you do it the better you get.

You will build the skill of it. You will build the confidence to know no matter what is thrown your way, you will be able to remain consistent.

Newsflash, yes this is how you see progress in your fitness journey… But this is how you actually change your life.

When you can get in control of every emotion you have, and remove yourself from that emotion to then make decisions based on what you know is right, that is your unlock.

It is not to say having the emotion is a BAD thing, we are all human, we have emotions.

Having the emotion is okay, but the more you can detach yourself from that emotion, and NOT let it impact your decision making, that is how you change your consistency issue.

Final Thoughts

Know this may have been a lot to think about.

I hope I was able to paint good enough pictures for you to follow along, and realize what is going on.

I work with a lot of people. This one simple, not easy, but simple mental shift of truly thinking about what decision is going to make you the most proud OUTSIDE of the current moment you are in, literally has changed peoples lives.

Not just their fitness journey, but their entire life in general. Marriages, relationships, work settings, parenting, you name it.

I am not here saying I am a psychologist, but I have just seen this one mental shift make seismic differences.

Guys I implore you to try this. And try it for real.

Do it today. There is going to be something that happens to you today that makes you want to say F this I don’t wanna track my calories, or I don’t want to get this workout in.

Give yourself 5 minutes to detach yourself from that particular moment, and think about what is going to make you the most proud when you lay your head on your pillow at night.

I promise you the more you can center your thoughts around THAT, the more change will come into your life.

Let me know if you give it a try, and how it works out for you.

Again it will not be easy, but I promise you with all of my heart, it works.

I wouldn’t be writing this 2300 word article if it didn’t, trust me.

Reach out to me at coacheric@ericrobertsfitness.com if you end up trying it. Let me know how it goes, would love to hear it.

If you are interested in coaching with me, and allowing me to guide you through this process and be your support system, head to the link HERE to fill the form out to see if we are a good fit.

Really look forward to hearing from you after this one. Give it a full week of trying. What is a full week to change the rest of your life?


ERF 037: Does Fat Loss Have To Be Your ONLY Diet Goal?

The word “diet” has a connotation with only fat loss. When people think “diet”, they think you HAVE be wanting to drop some lbs.

It can also be kind of concerning thinking that well if and when you hit your fat loss goal… what next? Just revert back to your old ways? 

I am here to say fat loss does NOT have to be your only goal. 

There are periods where you can have a goal of , yes I am saying it , maintenance. 

There are periods of time you can focus on even building muscle!

I cover all things related to what your “diet” can look like, and why in this podcast.

Let me know if you enjoy it. Talk soon. -E. 

ERF 036: How To Make Any Workout Difficult

I know most of us are stuck home right now, and probably thinking “well my workouts are gonna be too easy”.

In this podcast I go over how to make ANY workout hard. Any exercise, any amount of reps, any time period, any of it. 

There is a skill in having knowledge about making any exercise or workout difficult, and truthfully, that should be your thought process the entire time. 

If you are doing an in home workout during the corona virus, or body weight workout, this is a must listen to. 

Let me know your feedback, and would love it if you left a rating and review if you enjoyed it / got some value from it. 


How To Perform A Proper Push Up + How To Get Your FIRST Push UP!




From 6th grade PE class, to Navy Seals Training, the push up is known as a true test of your full body strength.

Yet, many people STRUGGLE with completing ONE push up, let alone multiple in a row.

In reality, this exercise is one that is butchered across gyms, group x classes, and even other coaches.

Yet, when done properly, can truly build your entire body quite unlike any other.

The purpose of this article is going to not only teach HOW to do one correctly, but also what you can do to make a path to achieve your first push up.

How To CORRECTLY Perform A Push Up

First let’s start by labeling out the steps that you need to follow to ensure a proper push up.

Let me start by saying, if you can’t do a push up on the floor yet, THAT IS OKAY.

Still follow along with my checklist here. You will see why later in the article.

Push Up Form Check List

STEP 1: Assume a plank position. Get your hands beneath your shoulders. This is important to have a proper leverage point, and protect your shoulder health long term.

STEP 2: Keep your core braced. If I was going to punch you in the stomach as hard as I could, that is how I want your core braced. Another great cue I give my online coaching clients is to think about popping a button on your pants. You know, the opposite of what you do at the beach.

STEP 3: Squeeze your butt. Yep, for a push up, squeeze your butt. This keeps your spine / pelvis in a neutral alignment, and helps with core bracing. Think about pinching a penny between your cheeks.

STEP 4: Keep your feet close. Again, this helps with pelvis alignment / leverage.

STEP 5: Think forward, THEN down into your push up. (Yep, we are finally getting into the actual push up, I know, a lot before we even get started. It is necessary to ensure proper form.) This step, is crucial, because a push up is NOT just straight up and down.. It is a bit forward, THEN you descend down.

STEP 6: Squeeze your shoulder blades on the way down. Think about pinching a pencil between your shoulders on the way down, or think about rowing / pulling yourself into the ground.

Step 7: Push off the ground as hard as you can as you ascend back up, maintaining a straight line throughout.

Again, if you cannot perform a push up on the ground yet, that is fine. Remember this check list as we get later in the article.

Most Common Mistakes

Mistake 1 – Hands / Elbows Too Wide

This is probably the MOST common mistake I see with push ups.

Somewhere along the line, instructors of group x classes across commercial gyms were told to tell people to “ Make a field goal post !” with their elbows when they do a push up.

No wonder why the shoulder injury is the most common one in America.

Please, for the love of all things strength training, DO NOT PUT YOUR ELBOWS OUT WIDE WHEN YOU DO A PUSH UP.

Yes, keeping your elbows out wide makes the push up easier, it is less distance you have to travel.

BUT, you are 100% going to injure your shoulder, it is only a matter of time if you haven’t already.

Plus, you aren’t working any real muscle at that point, you’re just jamming your shoulder joint.

The Fix?

Like we mentioned above, get your hands right under your shoulders.

This will automatically put your elbows / hands in a better position.

Your elbows should be traveling either A. Right by your side or B. At around a 45 degree angle.

You having your elbows out wide as you push up is doing *literally* nothing productive.

The next correction you can make is again, thinking FORWARD FIRST, and then down.

People tend to flare their elbows out because they are not getting their chest over their hands.

They are trying to go straight down. Your head should be traveling forward as you descend down into your push up.

If you look at the starting position / finishing position above, you will see my head travels a bit forward as I go down.

You will also see my wrists and my elbows in line with one another.

This will also prevent you from flaring your elbows out excessively, leading to wrist, elbow, and shoulder pain.

Mistake 2 – Not Staying In One Straight Line

This is by far the next most common mistake I see.

People are losing their rigidity of their core / torso throughout the movement.

Why does this happen? People usually A. Are not strong enough to maintain form while doing a push up or B. Just don’t know that their core needs to remain working the entire time.

If you compare the two pictures above, you can clearly see in the top picture I am sagging my hips down, arching my chest up, not maintaining one straight line in my body.

Where as the bottom picture, my butt is squeezed, abs are tight, shoulders are pulled back, all leading to one straight line throughout the whole movement.

The Fix?

To fix this, make sure you go through the checklist we laid out above.

Ensure before you even descend down into your push up, your abs are braced. Your butt is squeezed, you are pulling yourself into the ground as you descend down.

Maintaining one neutral spine throughout the whole movement is paramount because if you don’t, injury will occur somewhere along the kinetic chain.

How To Achieve Your First Push Up

So, knowing how to do a push up is cool and all but.. You still need the strength to actually do one.

This is where a simple modification can come in.

Remember earlier I said if you can’t do a push up on the ground yet to still pay attention to the form check list / correction check list? You are about to realize why.

Yes, you need the strength to be able to complete a push up from the ground.

My favorite way of getting this strength is by doing the same exact form as a push up, but putting your hands on an elevated surface.

Take your bed for example.

You can go through all the checklist items, keep yourself in a straight line, keep your core braced, etc.

If you can do perfect push ups on your couch which is say 20 inches off the ground, do them. Push ups are push ups no matter the height.


Why Elevated Surface Instead Of On Your Knees?

Well, so glad you asked!

Personally, I would pick an elevated surface because you can still teach your body the push up form.

You can still learn to keep your core tight, to squeeze your shoulder blades on the way down, to squeeze your butt, etc.

You will be gaining the core strength / body awareness to keep your body in one straight line.

SO, when you do get strong enough to do them from the floor, you will not have to relearn this all over again.

You can just take everything you have been doing, and apply it to pushing up from the floor.

When you drop to your knees, it makes it that much harder to maintain a straight line with your body.

It makes it so you may have to relearn things over again as you progress to the push up on your toes.

To avoid that, I love taking clients through elevated push up progressions.

Speaking of… More on how to get your first push up below.

Progression To On The Floor Pushups

So okay, now that we know we are going to do them from an elevated surface, how do we ensure that we GET to the floor?

Here is what I would do, and I would keep it very simple.

I woulds start by finding a height you can do a set of 10 perfect reps with.

So if that is your couch, your bed, your table, whatever it ends up being, make sure you can do 1 set of 10 with PERFECT form.

Touching your chest to the surface, keeping in a straight line, the whole 9.

Then, once you can do that, keep adding sets until you can do 4×10 with perfect form on that specific elevated surface.

Once you can do that, find a lower surface. Maybe go from your bed to your couch.

And again, make sure you can do 4×10 reps from your cough height.

Once you can do that, maybe find a coffee table that is a bit lower.

Once more, make sure you can complete 4×10 on that coffee table height.

After this, you can then progress to the ground and do your push ups from the ground!

That’s A Wrap

There you have it. You should now be equipped with everything you need to not only complete your first push up, but complete it correctly.

I strongly urge you to watch the short YouTube video I added along with this article if you want to visually see what I mean when I talk about these cues.

Just from coaching hundreds of people, I know a lot of you are visual learners, so the YouTube video attached I think can be very helpful.

If you want help with your push up form, or anything related to building muscle and losing fat, feel free to email me at coacheric@ericrobertsfitness.com .

Or fill out this form HERE to see if I can help you out.

Thanks for reading, and happy push up-ing? If that is a word?


ERF 035: How To Not Lose Progress During Quarantine

Stuck at home and can’t get to the gym? Was in a really good groove until all of this happened?

We have to remember, yes we have to stay home, BUT that doesn’t mean you have to lose all your progress.

That doesn’t mean you have to throw your workouts out. Doesn’t mean you have to say F it when it comes to your nutrition. That would be asinine. 

You can still keep your health and progress in the forefront.. If you so choose to. 

A bodyweight workout is better than no workout.

A workout with only 10 15 lb dumbbells is better than no workout. 

Still tracking your calories is better than saying “Well I can’t get to the gym screw it!”. 

Something is always better than nothing. Tune in to this podcast to figure out ways to keep your momentum going during these crazy times. 


ERF Q&A 031: Are You Eating The “Right” Amount Of Food To Lose Fat?

It can be confusing or frustrating when it comes to your diet.

You are “dieting”. You are trying to watch what you eat, and attempting to cut back on sweets or sodas.

But, you don’t truly know if what you are doing is working. 

Yea you have made some changes to your eating habits but, are the changes you made actually going to make you lose fat?

I cover this topic in depth in this new YouTube video I just put out.

There are signs that tell you if what you are eating is actually leading to fat loss.

There are certainly things that come with being in a calorie deficit, which we know is, the only way to lose fat.

So if you can know these things, then you can be better educated on if the amount of food you are eating is actually going to lead to you losing weight.

ERF 034: How To Deal With Boredom / Emotional / Binge Eating

During these unprecedented times where everything is closing and we are forced to self quarantine.. It can be very easy to lead down a bad path with your food.

Due to this, I recorded this podcast for all the people who are stuck home, and may fall to boredom / emotional / or binge eating, because it all comes back to the same principles.

If you struggle with boredom eating while you are stuck home, and your kids are driving you crazy, on top of dealing with your work, spouse, etc.. This podcast is for you. 

Hope it helps. -E.

ERF 033: COVD-19, How To Keep Yourself Healthy From The Corona Virus

As we have bought up all the toilet paper (Which I don’t know why but), how can you actually keep yourself healthy?

How can you be sure you can DECREASE the chance of you getting it, but also, INCREASE your ability to fight it off if you do get it. 

Your immune system plays the biggest role here. Toilet paper and hand sanitizer is cool , but , keeping your immune system healthy during these times is critical.

Listen to this weeks podcast to be sure you and your loved ones are ready. Stay Safe. -E.

What Is The BEST Workout Plan To Build Muscle?

You have this body in your head that you want to achieve.

It may be something along the lines of toned shoulders, lean arms, and definition in your legs.

Do you have to lose fat to get there? Yes, BUT, if you don’t dive into muscle BUILDING to some extent, you will never actually BUILD that body.

Because what most people fail to remember is exercise is meant to BUILD your body up, as opposed to tear your body down. Let your diet take care of the fat loss.

Or maybe you have lost some fat, you look and feel good, but you want to take that next step in your fitness journey to start to carve the body you really want.

Wherever you are at in your journey, I can assure you, muscle building should be apart of it.


Trust me, I WISH that was the case. I would have been there a longggg time ago.

This does mean though you will be set up on the right path to achieve that body you desire.

Through this two part guide you will learn the pyramids of importance when it comes to muscle building, this article will be training in particular.

I must first say, this article is greatly influenced by the incredibly smart Eric Helms. His muscle and strength pyramids created a while ago are the back bone to SO MANY coaches philosophies and recommendations today.

That being said, it has his influence and his studies backing a lot of it, but I put my own spin on it. I used it to come up with this hierarchy system of importance to give you a complete guide when it comes to how to train for muscle growth.

I hope you enjoy. If you have read my previous articles, I will refer to that pen and paper once again.

This one is going to provide you some exact numbers and recommendations you can write down and take with you to implement into your plan today.

By the end, you should feel fully confident to take this information and put it into action.

Let’s build some muscle.

Muscle Building Pyramid

To help categorize this article, I will be using this pyramid above in reference the rest of the time.

This was created to not only help categorize things, but give you a big picture look at what REALLY matters when it comes to muscle building.

This should give you a good direction of what to focus on and how much. For example, if you are struggling on how much rest you should be getting in between sets, but your intensity is not even there.. it won’t matter.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the base of the pyramid, Adherence.


This is by far the most important pice of this puzzle, and I would be doing you a disservice if I did not label it so.

The hard truth is, I can give you the PERFECT training program, with the PERFECT amount of reps and sets, the BEST exercises, and the MOST OPTIMAL workout schedule..

But the reality is, if you either A. Can’t stick to it or B. Thoroughly hate doing it, you aren’t going to follow it.

And no matter how “great” the plan is in theory, if you cannot stick to it for a long period of time, you will NOT see results.

Especially talking about muscle building, it takes time to build muscle (unless you are a beginner, which we will cover).

When talking about adherence, there are a few factors to look at. Let’s briefly chat over them now.

Schedule / Time Frame

This is why everyones own individuality is truly paramount.

If you try to create a training program that has you working out at 6 am 5x a week because that is what is going to give you the “best” results, but you have a 7 month old at home… That might not be the “best” program.

Likewise, if you are planning for 2 hour workouts, but on gods green earth if you get an hour to workout you think you hit the lottery, again, it might not be best plan.

This is simply because you will not adhere to it. You won’t be able to consistently train this way. You will not be able to realistically work it into your schedule.

There is one thing to make sacrifices, and cut out excuses when it comes to getting time in to exercise.

Trust me, I believe the #1 worst excuse for not exercising is time. That being said, if you are making unrealistic expectations for yourself and your schedule, none of the rest of this will matter, because you won’t be able to do it.


I understand some of you reading this may be either new to the muscle building world, or come from a world where cardio is king.

So in that aspect, I will say you have to just give it a try. Go into it with an open mind. Go into it with focusing on building yourself up, getting stronger, building a new body for yourself. Be okay with trying different things.

That being said, even if this is a new world for you, there are a million ways to tailor it towards your enjoyment.

If for example you do like feeling you are “working hard”, maybe you do more reps and sets than another person. This will give you a more metabolic feel to it, while still achieving the muscle building goal at hand.

Another example would be if you really enjoy doing a full body workout instead of one or two muscle groups at a time, then you program your training around that.

There are infinite ways to achieve this enjoyable factor. The point is, try things, find what works for you, try more things (because you never know what you may like), and roll with it.


If you are reading this, you probably have 1839393^12 other things to do right now. Like that math there?

That being said, your plan must have flexibility taken into consideration.

If you were meant to workout on Monday, but your kid got sick and now you have to workout on Wednesday, your plan should account for that.

Or if you have a crazy busy day at work and have to go for a 45 minute workout instead of a 90 minute, this should be worked into. it.

This is all because again, at the end of the day, consistency and adherence reign supreme.

I would much rather you follow a B- plan with 80% consistency, than follow an A++ plan with 55% consistency.

Undoubtedly, you will see better results form the B- plan followed with 80% consistency.

Consistency > Everything.


Before I continue on with this, I must define with I actually mean by intensity.

I am not defining intensity by how out of breath you are, how much you sweat, or how short your rest periods are.

Head HERE to view my thoughts on that.

What I mean by intensity is, how hard are you pushing yourself. What is your effort you are putting forth during a given set.

If it calls for a set of 10 reps, is that a set of 10 where you were texting during it, talking, thinking about what your girlfriend is doing, and probably could’ve actually done 10 more?

Or is that a set where those reps of 8 9 10 were GRINDERS. They were reps you really had to work for, mentally and physically. You really had to push your body and mind to get those last 2-4 reps.

THAT is what I mean by intensity, and if you want to build muscle, you better believe the ladder of those two scenarios is what is mandatory.

The reason I put this above how many actual set and reps you use is because without this intensity component, the sets and reps you do won’t actually matter.

In this day and age, people think more is better. That is not always the case, especially when it comes to muscle building.

You can increase volume, aka sets and reps, but never increase intensity. You can do more “work”, but not get any better results, because your work is not yielding results.

I would much rather you do 2 sets instead of 4 if that means you are going to give those two sets your max mental and physical effort.

It may look like 2 set is “less work”, but I promise, try it one time, and you tell me which requires more effort and “work” from you.

I go in depth about this on my podcast “Muscle building is a poor mans game”, link HERE for that.

Measuring Intensity

Okay so, here is the thing, I am telling you to put forth more effort but, how can you really measure that?

Yes put forth more effort Eric but, that is kind of up for debate, is there something I can use that leads me to keep track of this better?

So glad you asked.

There is something called the RPE scale.

As you can see above, this is called the rate of perceived exertion scale. This can be a great guideline to allow you to rate your level of activity by a tangible measure.

If you can hold a conversation while doing a set.. sorry honey, you are not really working that hard.

To take this a step farther, and talk about actual reps and sets, another added to this is the reps in reserve.

Now, we can start to apply this theory to your sets.

If you really have 4-6 reps left… again, sorry darling, you are not working that hard. Your intensity is not that high, certainly not high enough to build muscle.

Whereas if you are stopping maybe one rep short of true failure, okay, you are getting up there in your scale of intensity.

I love these two things when it comes to gauging how much intensity and effort you are truly using.

The one thing I will say is, if you are a beginner, you should not be taking all sets to max failure.

Your #1 concern is going to be what we talk about here soon, and that is form and technique. Beginners will build muscle just through osmosis.

If you go from lifting no weights, to lifting any sort of weights, that is a new stress your body has to adapt to. From that, you will gain muscle and get stronger.

Once you get past that stage, you will need to really use these tools to help you.

And, it will take time. It is going to take time to know what a TRUE RPE of 9 looks like. Right now you are probably thinking you are at a 9 or 10, but you are at a 6 or 7.

It is going to take you realizing there is more in the tank, you having to push harder, get uncomfortable, and ramping up intensity to see results.

Okay, So Where Should Your RPE Be?

Since we just covered the RPE Scale, we can now talk about where you should be for muscle building purposes.

Truthfully, if the majority of your sets are not in the 8-10 range, you are not going to build much muscle.

This means the majority of your time should be spent in the gym should be time spent pushing yourself to these higher intensity levels.

The more you can figure out how to do this, the more muscle you will be able to build.


We’ve all seen it. The person in the gym who looks like a humpback whale as they deadlift.

Or the person who looks like they are literally humping the air getting ready for their spouse that night as they do a bicep curl.

I don’t have the time to go over form and technique for every single exercise you are going to do, that is not what this section is for.

This section though is for explaining the importance of technique is for building muscle.

“You Won’t Get Hurt!”.. Yea..

So, YES, the better form you keep, the less likely you are to get hurt.

Yet as a coach, I have seen that sometimes is not enough to get people to realize how important form really is.

So, I will throw this at you for some food for thought.

If you are doing a bicep curl, you are wanting to get better biceps, right?

But, if you are swinging the weight aggressively up and down, using your hips to swing it, your shoulders to finish the movement up top…. Are you actually working your biceps?

No. You are using momentum, and other body parts to assist in the movement.

This then means from that 15 lbs you are doing a “bicep curl” with, maybe 4 lbs gets put to your biceps?

And 4lbs to your hips, 3lbs to your shoulders, and so on.

So, you set out wanting to work your bicep to get it more defined, but ended up using everything but your bicep.

So you won’t actually see any change in your bicep because you aren’t actually using the right form to use the right muscle.

This is what I tell all of my online coaching clients, and I have seen amazing response from it. Think about using the right form and technique to get better results.

Through that, you will not only stay injury free, but actually get better results in the process. Remember what we said earlier, more is always not better.

Walking The Tight Rope

Okay so now, I have to contradict myself.

I just told you that form and technique is paramount, which it is. Though that does not mean you then don’t push intensity and don’t push the weight so you can keep your intensity high.

From what we just learned, intensity is one of the most important part of muscle building.

So it doesn’t mean go get 5 lb dumbbells and do superrrrrr slowww and concentrated bicep curls.

No, that won’t yield results either.

You have to walk that fine line of doing high load (weight) and keeping *damn near* perfect form.

Again, this will only happen through trial and error. Try things, see what works, keep a record of it, and follow your path to results.

Volume / Frequency

Volume and Frequency would be the next tier of the pyramid. Let’s define what these words mean in terms of training.

Volume is the total amount of work done in a set. It can also be quantified as “volume load” (sets x reps x load), total number of reps (sets x reps), or simply just the number of sets.

There is no one “right” way to think about it, they all have their pros and cons.

But, for the reason we are about to dive into below, we will be using (sets x reps x sets).

Why Volume Is Secondary To Intensity?

Intensity is what we touched on earlier, and I spoke about why it is superior to volume.

I want to now give you an actual math example of why this can be the case.

Let’s say you are doing 4 x 10 @ 100lbs for your bench press.

That would be (4 x 10 x 100) = 4,000 lbs total.

Without changing any sets or reps, you can increase the volume AND intensity, by lifting 5 lbs more.

This then would be ( 4 x 10 x 105) = 4200 lbs total.

So, without changing any reps or sets, your volume DID actually increase, but through higher intensity, from a higher load.

No extra sets, or reps, or time in the gym. Just making the time you do have in the gym work better for you through higher intensity.

Ok ok back to volume recommendations.

Volume Recommendations

Truly there could be a different recommendation for every individual.

But for the sake of this article, I will give you some general guidelines to follow.

10-20 sets per muscle group / movement per week.

If you don’t know what muscle groups or movements I am referring to, head HERE to read my article on program design.

This means for every muscle group and or movement pattern you should aim to get a total of 10-20 sets per week.

So how can you do this? This is where frequency comes into play as a tool.


This refers to how many days a week you are training these muscles / movement patterns.

As far as frequency goes, it really is a tool that is used to get your total volume in for the week.

If you need to get 10 sets of legs in, you can do 4 one day, 2 the next, and 2 the next.

Or you can do 5 sets one day, 5 sets the next day.

It honestly depends on your split and how you choose to design your training program. Again, highly suggest you go read my article on program design if you want extra help with this.

The other cool thing that frequency can be used for as a tool is skill acquisition.

Piggybacking off our previous section, technique, properly learning how to squat or deadlift takes time.

It takes practice over and over and over. An mlb pitcher doesn’t pitch once a week, they pitch multiple times throughout the week to get better at it.

This is no different. If you want to use frequency as an opportunity to learn how to squat, or feel your lats when you do a row, this is where you can program in such a way to do that.

Exercise Selection

In todays day and age where instagram runs the world, and the internet is full of people trying to one up each other with their next coolest exercise, we have gotten lost.

Everyone is doing bosu ball squats, weird mixes of lunges and bicep curl, and thinking they HAVE to do something new every time because “muscle confusion, bro!”.

Just stop. Stop with the madness.

Muscle confusion is not a real thing. You should not be on a bosu ball doing a front raise or a squat. Get your ass off the bosu ball, go grab a barbell or dumbbell, and work on mastering the basic fundamental movement pattern of a regular ol squat.

I can’t tell you how many people significantly hinder their chances of making any real muscle building progress, and significantly raise their chances of injury, with this notion you need to be doing crazy exercises.

It is important to keep consistency throughout your training. If you can keep the same movement for 4, 6, 8 weeks, you can actually track what you are doing on it.

You can track if you are getting stronger, or if you are doing more reps, you can track if your form is getting better.

You can actually have a training program that is leading you to create a stress your body has to adapt to to then see results.

As opposed to just going into the gym and exercising.

I will go over what I believe to be a good time frame to switch exercises up, but after I talk about picking exercises, for YOU.

Selecting Exercises For YOU

This is where individuality becomes SO IMPORTANT.

I am 6’4. I have long legs, and I have previous back and hip issues.

I have trouble loading up a barbell and barbell back squatting. And that is 100000% okay.

No where in this article have I said you need to do only certain exercises to build muscle, rather I talked principles.

Intensity, sets, reps, etc.

SO, I do not spend a lot of time barbell back squatting.

It doesn’t fit my persona. It doesn’t allow me to actually work my legs, or stay healthy.

Instead I opt for a hack squat, or a front squat, or a single leg split squat.

If you consistently get hurt with a movement, or don’t feel it how you should, there is no reason to continue to keep banging your head against a wall.

Switch it out for something that is within the same movement pattern, which allows you to use a higher intensity and better technique.

As we know from the pyramid, THAT matters so much more than the exact exercise you use.

Recommendations For Exercise Variance

For me what I do with my online coaching clients, below has worked incredibly well.

For your main compound movements, I would keep those in for at least 4 weeks, if not 8-12 weeks at a time before you switch them out.

This allows you to progressively get stronger at them, perfect the form, add weight, etc.

This will give you the best return on your time in the gym.

For isolation / accessory exercises, this is where you can play around a bit more.

Things like bicep curls, shoulder raises, hamstring curls, you can change these a bit more often.

Usually anywhere from 3-4 weeks can work, and if you are more towards the advanced side, week to week may be an option as well.

I totally understand changing the exercise can lead to better enjoyment and adherence, BUT, you have to take into consideration the other factors of this pyramid.

If you can’t increase your intensity with an exercise, can’t get stronger, can’t do it long enough to learn it… You won’t build muscle.

There is a lot to be said for consistency, keeping things simple, mastering the basics, and doing that week after week after week.

Rest Periods

Not sure the point of that picture, but it’s awesome.

Okay so we get to the top of the pyramid, rest periods.

I touched on this earlier, I had a link to a YouTube video I did on it, but I will say it again.

You should not be taking 10 or 20 seconds breaks when focusing on muscle building.

If you are pushing your intensity, and hitting a 9 or 10 on your RPE Scale, your muscles need time to recover.

And if you are thinking you are hitting a 9 or 10 on your RPE Scale through 20 seconds rest, you are not.


Sorry. Just the truth.

It is actually probably leading you to work LESS hard because you can’t fully mentally and physically recover, leading your intensity to be less, leading to you not being able to build muscle.

So with that being said, I will provide some guidelines for rest periods below.

Rest Period Guidelines

For compound lifts, like your squat, bench, deadlift, overhead press, your rest time should be around 2 minutes.

For your isolation / accessory exercises, like lunges, single leg deadlifts, bicep curls, these can be around the 1 minute mark.

But That’s Tooooo Longgggg

I know, for some of you, that is scary.

Here is my compromise to that, add a superset into your workout.

This can be done by doing two exercises back to back with no rest, and THEN taking a break after the exercises are completed.

These also usually tend to be antagonist muscles, like chest and back.

An example of this is below.

1a. Push Up

1b. Pull Up

Rest : 75 seconds after.

This can allow you to get some higher heart rate work in, push the envelope a bit more, but not compromise your intensity, and still leave you time to recover for the next set.

Final Word

So, there you have it.

Whew, that was a ton.

I hope that pen and paper was rolling section by section.

Muscle building is NOT about one specific thing. It is not attributed to one source of results.

Rather it is comprised from multiple different variables and guidelines to operate by.

Adherence is the most important. That is individual to you.

Intensity is what drives muscle growth. Learning how to truly achieve this is a skill which takes time and effort.

Form / Technique is a principle that is based around actually making your time in the gym effective.

Volume can be used as a general guideline to follow and make your own individual preferences off of. Frequency is used for a tool to compliment volume, intensity, and basically this whole chart.

Exercise selection is less about picking ONE certain exercise to do, or the contrary doing every exercise known to man. Pick ones that work, stick with them, change when need be, and see great results.

Rest periods are used to complement the pyramid as well. Use the rest to mentally and physically recover to keep all of the other things in mind.

I truly hope you got some value from this article. I know it was a bit long, so if you read this whole way, thank you.

I promise you if you read all this, and implement it, you will see amazing results.

If this is all a bit much for you, and you have questions, please feel free to leave them below or email me at coacheric@ericrobertsfitness.com .

Or, if you would like to apply for coaching with me instead so I can help you every step of the way, head HERE to fill the form out to see if we would be a good fit.

Thank you so much for your time, and Happy Muscle Building.


ERF 032: Muscle Building Is A Poor Mans Game

Muscle Building is a poor mans game. Why? 

It all comes down to making the most you can out of the least possible. 

If you are less fortunate, you normally have to share food, share clothes, save all the leftovers for a next meal.

Muscle building is no different.

It is NOT about who can “do the most work” in the form of the most amount of sets and reps and or weight even.

It is about who can push themselves the farthest, with the least amount of work possible. 

Who can make that set of 10 reps the hardest possible, as opposed to doing a set of 10 reps texting and talking.

Making the most from the least, finding that place where you can push intensity to a level you need to build muscle is paramount.

This podcast goes over how to get there, why it is so important, and how you can actually do “less” work and still see results.

Give it a listen and let me know, -E.