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?


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.

ERF Q&A 029: You Don’t Have To Be Sweaty To Have An Effective Workout

Your cardio class REALLY kicks your butt! It really makes you sweat and out of breath!…

But, so does going outside and running down the street as fast as you can for 12 seconds. 

Or chasing your kids around the house 3x..

Does that mean those two things are an effective workout as well?

We need to break this myth that you NEED to be sweating and out of breath to have a “good” workout. 

Listen to this podcast if you think that is the case, I guarantee by the end I will give you new perspective to look at.

How To Design Your Own Strength Training Program


Ever feel like you walk into the gym, and it is a jungle of machines, dumbbells, kettlebells.

All staring at you, and you have no idea what is the most optimal way to use all of these things to get you the results you want.

It doesn’t matter if your goal is to lose fat, build muscle, or get stronger.

You want to make sure the time you spend in the gym, is spent well.

You want to make sure what you are doing is actually going to get you closer to your goal.

It can be very overwhelming in many different ways.

Maybe you are a beginner and you have NO idea what to do.

Or maybe you have been working out a little here and there, but never really had any structure to your workouts. Never had a plan.

Today I am going to make sure, by the end of this article, you are confident in building your own strength training program.

You are going to be sure to have a structured plan you can take into the gym, put into action, and start seeing results.

Before I show you exactly how to do that, I must cover some initial “rules to train by” if you will.

I would get out a pen and paper (because I am old school), and take some notes.

This article will be filled with information. Let’s press on, shall we? (Get it, press, like bench press?.. Alright fine moving along).

Strength Training “Rules”

Now, are these rules ones you MUST follow EVERY TIME?

No, but they certainly are some very good guidelines I love to follow, and have my online coaching clients follow, when it comes to strength training.

Stick To The Basics

This is one I see butchered and drug through the mud So. Many. Times.

Especially in a world of instagram workouts, internet phenoms, and just the feeling that more is better.

There always has to be some crazy exercise. Like doing a triple axle backflip off a bosu ball into a pistol squat with a bicep curl..

But you don’t even know how to squat properly first!?

No no I won’t get started.

For real though, the basics are there for a reason. They have been around forever a reason.

They work. Plain and simple.

You don’t need a ton of different exercises. You don’t need to do difficult movements atop of unstable surfaces.

There is no place for doing exercises under conditions that are susceptible to any type of major injury or cause you to repeatedly break down form because you are so exhausted.

I know, that isn’t the sexiest thing to hear. I know the basics may seem boring at times, but please please trust me when I say, they are THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WHEN IT COMES TO WORKOUT PROGRAMMING.

Later in this article I will lay out exactly what I consider the basics, and how you can use them in your workouts.

You Don’t Need To Sweat To Have An Effective Workout

This one, again, is one I unfortunately see often times from not just general population, but trainers and coaches alike.

I am here to tell you, you don’t need to sweat or be out of breath, to have an effective workout.

Try this for me. Go outside right now and run down the street as fast as you can.

Or chase your dog or kid around the house a few times.

You’ll undoubtedly get sweaty, and be out of breath.

So, is that what you would classify as a good workout?

I would hope not.. and if you do, just go ahead and exit out of this page now because the rest won’t be down your alley.

Sweating and being out of breath has NOTHING to do with having an effective work out.

Can you sweat and have a good workout? Sure.

But I am 6’4 255 lbs male. I sweat peeling an orange.

I know ladies who are 4’10, completely kick ass in their workouts, and don’t sweat a drop.

Using someones sweat glands to determine the effectiveness of a workout is ludicrous.

Your workouts should be based around if you are getting stronger, doing more reps, getting better endurance.

And let me tell you something else, if you know a coach or trainer who’s SOLE purpose is to beat you down and make you sweat / be out of breath..

That is not a trainer, that is a monkey. Because a monkey can do that to you. Find a new coach.

Leave Your Ego At The Door

Listen, we all have somewhat of an ego.

And we don’t want to admit we are bad at something, or we don’t know how to do something.

If there is one thing I can tell you if you are looking to get into working out, or stay healthy, is please leave your ego at the door.

It is okay to admit you don’t know how to do something. It is okay to perfect form.

It is okay to seek out help from someone who does know how to do it, and learn from them.

If there was one thing I am glad I made the switch from in my early teens, it was taking the step back to understand the movements I was doing.

Learn how to squat. Learn how to deadlift or row. Lessen the weight a bit, and understand what was going on.

Not only did this eventually help my gainzz, but it also helped my injuries.

I encourage you to do the same, and if you want help, please feel free to reach out to me.

Movement Patterns, Not Muscles

People often are quick to do isolation exercise to work their biceps, or glutes.

But fail to realize that total body compound lifts will work those same muscles, with a heavier load, and multiple other muscles at the same time.

Thus maximizing not only the muscle they wanted to work, but 4 other during the process.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a bicep curl thrown in, and I will program specific glute movements if a lady would like her tush a bit bigger.

But they should in no way shape or form make up the majority of any smart training program.

I would program a bent over row, or deadlift, before I would a bicep curl or a glute kick back.

These movement patterns are going to work those same muscles with much more efficiency.

You will also probably realize these movements will also leave you needing not much *if any* extra work.

So, what are these movement patterns I am talking about? Glad you asked. Keep reading below, and seriously get a notepad out to get some notes.

Understanding Movement Patterns

Let’s talk movements, shall we?

But not just any movements. Movements that are going to make up your exercises in your training program, for your goal.

You have to have a system in place to be able to create programs, as opposed to just picking random exercises.

And understand what muscles those movements are working, and how they affect the other things you will do later in the workout.

Let’s cover the 5 fundamental movement patters, with some individual sections for each.

Upper Body Push

An upper body push movement, can be divided into two sub categories, horizontal push and vertical push.

Horizontal Upper Body Push includes variations of bench press, push ups, and all similar exercises. Mainly ways you are pressing in a horizontal motion.

Vertical Upper Body Push includes all variations of shoulder press, push press, and all similar exercises. Mainly ways you are pressing in a vertical motion.

Upper Body Pull

An upper body pull can be divided into two sub categories, horizontal pull and vertical pull.

Horizontal Upper Body Pull includes variations of bent over row, inverted row, and all other similar exercises. Mainly ways you are pulling in a horizontal motion.

Vertical Upper Body Pull includes variations of chin up, lat pull down, and all other similar exercises. Mainly ways you are pulling in a vertical motion.

Lower Body Push

These movements typically refer to lower body exercises that cause you to recruit more quads than hamstrings, usually causing a “pushing” motion rather than a “pulling” motion.

Examples include all variations of the squat, lunge, step up, and hip thrust.

Lower Body Pull

These movements typically refer to lower body exercises that cause you to recruit more hamstrings than quads, usually causing a “pulling” motion rather than a “pushing” motion.

Examples include all variations the deadlift, good morning, kettlebell swing, and cable pull through.


These movements typically refer to all these including the “core”. Everyone you talk to will have a different definition of the core, but I am referring to not just your abs. Also the muscles that stabilize your hips, stabilize your spine, and play a role in upper body stabilization. So much more than the 6 pack bro.

Examples can include all variations of plank, sit ups, Russian twists, pallof press, deadbugs, etc.

Understanding The Daily Workout Make Up

Here is where some people get caught up when it comes to what is the most optimal way to program a daily routine.

This is what you actually will be composing your daily sessions of, throughout a weekly basis.

There is no one “right” way, only a right way for you. Learn about the four main ones below.

Full Body

These training sessions typically tend to be longer, and obviously hit the entire body in one session, rather than splitting it up.

This split is incredibly great for beginners, and people who are uber busy and just can’t make it to the gym that much during the week.

I would not tend to program a full body any more than 4x a week, MAX. 2-4x a week for these full body session typically will do best. Again, this is for beginners, or people who don’t wanna spend a lot of the time in the gym, but still get an effective workout.

Upper / Lower

Yes, as it sounds like, this split just divides the training days up into an upper body day and a lower body day. Generally, 2 upper body days, and 2 lower body days, for a total of 4 days total per week, is what is used best here.

This is something that I program a ton for people who can make it to the gym 4x a week. It allows for proper frequency, exercise selection, volume, among many other things.

Push Pull Legs

This split is one that divides the days into 3 separate days, one of upper body pulling, one of upper body pulling, and one of legs, including both pushing and pulling motions.

This split is generally combined with 1 full body day, or 1 upper body + lower body day. So a total of upper body + lower body + Push + Pull + Legs. Or just 6 days a week of Push, Pull, Legs. This can be a total of 5-6x per week.

Yea, a lot of math there. Personally, unless you are towards the advanced level, I would not worry about this one.

Body Part Split

This split is one that is popular amongst the body building world. This splits days up into certain body parts, one day for chest, one day for back, one day for legs, etc..

Personally, even after living and studying the body building world for a while, I see no real reason to use this split for any general population individual, or even body builder for that matter. This split should be reserved for top level bodybuilders who need the extra isolation work to win Mr. Olympias.

Understanding Training Days Per Week

Touched on briefly in the split session above, this is where you figure out how many days a week you are training.

This is also where you decide what split you are using.

As a general rule, I like to hit both upper and lower body at least 2 days a week. Depending on the client, that can go up to 3 or 4 in some cases. But remember, more is not always better.

2-3x Days Training Per Week

For people who only have a small amount of time in the gym, full body tends to do best for this.

3 Day Full Body Split


Day 1

Full Body

Day 2

Full Body

Day 3

Full Body


However, there is more than one way to skin a cat (whatever that means anyway).

I also love this split to get more of a feel for the muscles, and split things up a bit nicer.

3 Day Upper, Lower, Full Body Split


Day 1

Lower Body

Day 2

Upper Body

Day 3

Full Body


This split allows you to split up into an upper and lower body day. I use this to have people focus on an area a bit more as opposed to switching back and forth between upper and lower body in one session.

Takeaway: There is no one RIGHT way to do it. Some people like full body better, some people like splitting it up. The one thing I would advise is try not to do all 3 days back to back to back. If you HAVE to, that is one thing, but if you have a choice, get some rest between days.

4x Days Training Per Week

This training schedule allows you endless possibilities when it comes to splits. This is great for the average gym goer to the intermediate / advanced trainee.

A standard upper lower split can be used here, like we talked about earlier.

4 Day Upper Lower


Day 1

Lower Body

Day 2

Upper Body

Day 3

Lower Body

Day 4

Upper Body

This is also a great way to get different stimulus to the body as well, because you have two chances to get at it.

Below is a bit more advanced way to look at the 4 upper / lower days you have.

4 Day Upper Lower


Day 1


Day 2


Day 3


Day 4


This is great because you can focus one day on getting stronger, and one day on more muscle building. **Hypertrophy is just a big word for muscle building**.

Takeaway: Training 4x per week is amazing for the general gym goer, the intermediate to advanced trainee, or someone looking to build strength and also build muscle. There are so many ways to slice this cake, try it and see what works for you.

5x Days Training Per Week

Honestly, unless you are more towards the end of intermediate / advanced, this probably is unnecessary for most.

That being said, let’s look at ways to program a 5x a week training program.

5 Day Upper Lower Push Pull Legs


Day 1

Upper Body

Day 2

Lower Body

Day 3


Day 4


Day 5


Like we said earlier, you can combine an upper, lower, with a push pull legs routine, to get you to 5x a week. This hits all muscle groups 2x, and can allow for optimal recovery while still hitting a higher frequency.

Takeaway: Again, unless you are more towards the advanced side, you probably won’t have to worry too much about this one. Recovery starts to become HUGE here, and if you are not eating, sleeping, and recovering properly, things WILL start to break down.

Number Of Exercises Per Training Day

Now we get into what you are ACTUALLY doing during your training day. I know, a lot to get here right?

That just goes to show you how much goes into actually making an individualized training program. If you want me to help you with yours, click HERE.

Moving forward, I am going to exclude 2x a week, and anything over 4x a week as far as training splits. I have just seen as a coach, the vast majority of people don’t need more than 4x a week, and if you can’t get to the gym more than 2 days, we need to have a conversation on that.

Before we dive into what the days exercises are going to consist of, we need to first talk about what types of exercises will exist.

  1. Strength Focused Exercises

Strength exercise are full body, compound movements like squat, bench, deadlifts, that challenge you with a relatively lower rep range.

But, it is not so much the exercise that is strength focused, though that does play a role, it is the weight and reps you choose to do with it that is “strength focused”.

Generally speaking, these movements tend to be no more than 6-8 reps, with 8 being on the high end.

2. Hypertrophy Based Exercises

Hypertrophy focused exercises can be full body, compound movements OR isolation exercises.

The main difference between a strength focused exercise and a hypertrophy, is A. The load you are using and B. The point at which the exercise becomes difficult.

You are focused on working and fatiguing the muscle, rather than gaining strength.

This is where having a mind muscle connection comes in, and where finding the right weight that isn’t tooo heavy, but not toooo light comes in.

Generally, these exercises tend to be in repetitions from 7-15 to achieve this stimulus.

So, How Many Exercises Per Day?

Well, it depends. There is no one real answer, it would depend on how many days a week you are training, what your focus is that day, what your goal is, to name a few.

But, I will give general guidelines you can follow.

Strength focused exercises

Goal: Build Strength, full body compound movement

How Many Per Day: 1-2 exercises per day

Sets and Reps: 3-5 sets, 3-8 reps

Rest Period: 90-180 seconds

Examples include: All variations of the squat, bench, deadlift, overhead press, rows, and chin ups.


Hypertrophy Focused Exercises

Goal: Hypertrophy focused, work and fatigue muscle

How Many Per Day: 2-6 exercises per day

Sets and Reps: 2-4 sets, 8-15 reps

Rest Period: 45-90 seconds

Examples include: All Variations of the squat, split squat, push up, shoulder press, tricep extension, bicep curl, face pull, Romanian Deadlift, lunges, etc.

Tying It All Together, Sample Workout Plans

Alright, so now we get down to actually putting this all together to see what it looks like in an actual program.

Remember that notebook I told you about earlier? That bitch should be full by now, but hopefully you saved some room for this.

Sample Upper / Lower Body Training Days

Upper Body

Upper Body Day

Sets x Reps

Rest Period


1. Bench Press


120 seconds


2. Barbell bent over Row


120 seconds


3a. 1 arm shoulder press



3b. Assisted chin up


90 seconds


4a. Push Up


75 seconds


4b. Cable Face Pull



5. Plank

2×40 sec hold

45 seconds


** If an exercise is labeled with a and b, that indicates a superset, where exercises are completed back to back.

So, let’s dissect this day.

The first exercise is a strength focused, compound movement in the bench press.

The second exercise is another strength focused, compound movement in the barbell bent over row.

The third and 4th exercises are still somewhat compound, they still provide a pretty good full body stimulus, but they are more hypertrophy focused in their rep ranges.

The 5th and 6th exercises are a bit less intense, less load due to being later in the workout, and wanting to be smart about injuries, effort, etc. They still work the muscles and provide a stimulus.

Then the trunk at the end to finish off the day.

Lower Body

Lower Body Day

Sets x Reps

Rest Period


1. Barbell Front Squat


120 seconds


2. Deadlift


180 seconds


3a. Single Leg RDL



3b. Split Squat


90 seconds


4a. Leg Extension Machine




4b. Swiss Ball Hamstring Curl



4c. Side Med Ball Slam

2×8/ea side

90 seconds


Again with the dissecting.

The first two movements of the day are full body, strength based compound movements. They have a lower rep range, and higher rest period from what we talked about above.

The 3rd and 4th are still full body exercises, just a bit less load, a bit less intensity, and getting more focused on muscle building.

The last circuit for the day is focused on isolation of muscles, lower loading, and working on the trunk.

The Final Word

Woo, I know that was a lot.

There is a lot to consider, a lot to think about. I urge you to go back and read over some parts, to make sure you fully grasp them.

Seriously, take notes.

I would NOT worry about getting the perfect routine, the perfect split, the perfect this or that.

The truth it, it will all be trial and error. It will be testing things and seeing what works and what doesn’t, for YOU and YOUR life.

Your schedule, your goals.

If you want to workout 4x a week, go back and look at the 4x week options. Look at how to structure the split. Pick what strength and hypertrophy exercises you want to put into your routine.

And then just go try it.

There is no ONE RIGHT way to program and design your workouts… Rather try things, see what sticks for you, and then narrow down later.

I know this is a lot of information, I know you may be like whaaaattttt…

If that is you, I implore you, please reach out to me for help. Leave a comment below, or email me @ coacheric@ericrobertsfitness.com .

Or if you would think coaching might be a better option for you rather than trying on your own, click HERE to fill out the form to see if we are a good fit together.

I hope this article helped, and again, please reach out for help. I wrote this whole damn thing for free, so you know I want to help.

Look forward to hearing from you. Talk soon. -E.

ERF Q&A 024: Strength Training Vs Muscle Building?

People think if you lift weights, you automatically get big and bulky.

Trust me, I wish that was the case.

But no, it is not. Just because you lift weights, doesn’t mean you AUTOMATICALLY build muscle.

Can you? Of course. But there are certain ways you can structure your exercise so train for more purely strength.

Train for more muscle. 

Train for both.

And you should not be scared of either one. Because they are both essential, and should be included in your workout program.

Take a listen to this weeks podcast to understand the difference between the two, and how you can implement into your own routine.


ERF 024: How To Make Your Gym Time Most Effective

When you go into the gym to workout, how can you make sure you are spending your time efficiently?

How can you make sure you are spending the time you are taking out and putting into the gym yields you results?

Perfect questions, and as usual, I gotchu.

Most people use the gym as an avenue to burn calories…. I’ll have a video out on my YouTube channel in the next couple of days about that.

Be sure to subscribe HERE so you don’t miss it.

But moving along, as a sneak peek preview, when you get into the gym, you should be focusing on weight lifting. 

Within that weight lifting, there are certain principles and exercises you should be focusing on to ensure your time is spent wisely.

I won’t say there is a “wrong” way to workout, but there are certainly countless amounts of evidence proving there are ways to get the best bang for your buck.

Choosing what exercises to do would be one of them. 

Where your head is at mentally when you are working out is another.

Expectations for yourself, other people, the workouts, is one that people must understand. 

And how many times a week you should be doing all of these things then come into play.

This podcast will cover all of that, and then some.

Check it out, and please let me know what you think. 

I ask in this podcast if you truly get any value from it… please take 5 minuted to leave a rating and review.

For real, it would mean a lot to me.

Talk soon. -E.