What does SRA stand for?
Stimulus – Recovery – Adaptation
No typically this is something that is done over the course of several weeks/months and fits in with the principles of progressive overload because you will have the initial Stimulus (volume/intensity) followed by a period of recover (de-load) and then aim for some new personal records (adaptation). A simple concept but one a great many people get horribly wrong.
The common fault people come across is that they don’t follow this simple process, well, not for long anyway. Many will start out a program that lines up nicely with these principles, they will even follow them for perhaps one mini cycle (3-4 weeks) and actually make some progress. Obviously the are pleasantly surprised because it worked, which should really be a surprise considering this methodology has been around for close to 100years now, but I digress. After hitting some new PR’s in the gym they think they can continue to do this and that is where the wheels start to fall off the wagon and I’m going to tell you why.
If a person follows a program that adheres to the SRA principle they will progress, simple. They might even be able to ‘cheat’ they system and hit a few more PB’s, thus leading them to think they’ve cracked this weightlifting malarky and can’t fathom why people struggle when they themselves are making such superb gains and this is when it starts to go wrong. Trying to continuously peak is something that in the worst possible scenario will destroy most people (major injury) if they’re not careful, at best they will stagnate and maintain the level their at, but most likely they will experience regression in both strength and lean body mass because of the excessive cortisol (stress hormones) they’re being exposed too.
How can you avoid this?
Simple, you stick with the plan!
Depending on the end goal, style of your training program, you training age/experience and personal genetics there will be some discrepancies in how long you run things for in terms of Marco/Meso/Micro-Cycles but regardless of this fact following the SRA crude will help you continually progress until your program is at an end, at which point you will certainly have hit a new peak but you would also have amassed a decent level of accumulated fatigue, this is when a complete week off might be necessary at either the 3-6-9-12 month point, sometimes people might take a longer lay off but that’s down to the individual.
What might an example mini cycle that follows this rule look like?
Like this perhaps:
- Week 1 5×5 – 70-80% of current 1RM
- Week 2 5×5 + 20lbs Lower/10lbs Upper
- Week 3 5×5 + 20lbs Lower/10lbs Upper
- Week 4 3×5 – At Original Weight
- Week 5 5RM – PR Attempt
- Week 6 5×5 – 70-80% of calculated 1RM based on new 5RM and Repeat
You could also have something that looks like this:
- Week 1 1×5 – Current 5RM
- Week 2 3×5 – Current 5RM
- Week 3 5×5 – Current 5RM
- Week 4 1×5 – At Original Weight
- Week 5 5RM – PR Attempt
Now those are based off of short 5/6 week cycles, you could have a longer one that would have be doing what is described as a volume/intensity wave or sorts.
- Week 1 1×5 – 70-80% of current 1RM
- Week 2 3×5 – 70-80% of current 1RM
- Week 3 5×5 – 70-80% of current 1RM
- Week 4 1×5 + 20lbs Lower/10lbs Upper
- Week 5 3×5 – Set at weight in week 4
- Week 6 5×5 – Set at weight in week 4
- Week 7 1×5 + 20lbs Lower/10lbs Upper
- Week 8 3×5 – Set at weight in week 7
- Week 9 5×5 – Set at weight in week 7
- Week 10 5×5 – Original Weight
- Week 11 5RM PR Attempt
Remember these are only example of how the overall program might look,, they are not set in stone, some people use the SRA principle on a weekly basis.
- Day 1 – Monday 5×5
- Day 2 – Wednesday 2×5
- Day 3 – Friday 1×5 – Build to new 5RM
The main thing to remember is that you want a period of accumulation (increasing volume/intensity) followed by a short phase that allows adaptation (de-load to all recovery) and then you attempt to realise the progress you’ve made with a new PR.
Take some time and plan out a sensible program with some logical progression, put in periods of ramping up volume/intensity followed by a slight de-load and then go for a new PR. Keep it simple and watch the progress come in waves.