Programming your training isn’t the easiest thing in the world but it’s not rocket science either. All it needs is a little care and attention so that it can be crafted in to something of beauty.
If I was to ask you what the most important part of a program was, what would you say it is?
Total Volume, Intensity, Time spent in the gym perhaps?
While you would not be wrong in thinking that those are not the most important things, to begin with that is.
The first thing you need to know is what you want to achieve specifically.
Now, specificity is all well and good but if you don’t have a defined timescale/goal then you can be as specific as you like but it won’t mean much, however these two are intrinsically linked as you can’t really have one without the other. If you used a body building competition as an example you would know when your comp date is, thus allowing you to appropriately plan your Macro/Meso & Microcycles (training blocks from building to adaptation to realisation/peaking).
One of the first things you need to establish and get right in your quest for a solid program is what your desired SPECIFICITY is at that point in time. It’s no good using 1-3reps with 90%+ of your 1RM for the majority of your training if your goal is hypertrophy (for most people), you will be far better off sticking with 6-12 reps in the 70-80% range. As time progresses and you draw closer and closer to your end date you will indeed adapt your training to suit your needs, perhaps it’s adding more sets/reps to increase the total volume and really push yourself to the edge but what ever it is, it will be relevant to your training at that point in time.
During your planning stage you will be looking to have a steady increase in overall volume that is stimulating enough to make you adapt but manageable enough so that you can recover, after all, there is no point in going too hard too son and ending up injured or burnt out.
Remember, the goal of each training block is to improve your overall performance and help you progress towards your goal, when you start planning what you’re going to do you must think about what you NEED to do and not what you LIKE to do. One will get your the results you want, the other will only massage your ego.
Think of this as the base of the pyramid, once you have this you can then go hunting for your sets/reps & intensity or as it is otherwise known Overload (this will be covered another day).
It’s time now for you to go and establish what your goal really is, what stage you’re currently at and how much time you have to achieve it your desired goal. Get these fundamentals sorted and you will be on the right path.