We’ve covered Specificity and Overload, not it’s time for the third instalment of how to create a solid training program.
The topic now in question is one often missed by a lot of people and that is Recovery.
Understanding what you can/can’t recover from will put in in the best place to force your body to adapt and improve accordingly, while slightly overreaching (pushing hard for a couple of weeks longer than planned) is good and can be a very useful tool, doing it for tool long will lead to regression or worse, injury.
How can you establish what the maximum amount of volume/intensity that you can recover from while still making progress is? Educated guesswork.
Seriously, educated guesswork might sound like a cop out answer but I don’t know you, I also very much doubt you know you either.
When it comes to finding what you can handle tracking your workouts, nutrition, sleep patterns and even daily life (stressors) can play a big part, for example – you’ve not been eating what you need for a coupe of days and have a poor session where you miss lifts, does this mean you need to take a deload week? Probably not, it simply means you’re feeling fatigue because you weren’t eating enough calories for a few days.
Typically you will find that the reason for a session not feeling great is not that you’ve hit your limit but poor nutrition, broken sleep or a stressful time in life. A good rule of thumb is this: If you can train for longer than 8 weeks while increasing volume/intensity then you’re not doing enough and if you cant make it to 4 weeks then you’re doing too much.
There is a term that has become popular in recent times (it has been around for years but it’s only popular now due to the influence of social media), it’s called Auto-Regulation.
Auto-Regulation can best be described as listening to your body, it’s instinctual. Some days you may be able to go heavier than planned, if you feel good then go for it. Other days you won’t feel great so a reduction in that days volume or intensity might be in order.
Can you program Auto-Regulation?
Kinda, but not quite… Let me explain.
There has been the thought process of Medium Day, Light Day, Heavy Day surrounding not only full body workouts but also splits for many years. This concept is based around one day causing a stimulus, one day allowing recovery for that week and the last day is for setting new rep PR’s or realising some adaptation, or so the theory goes.
When you program your training you will follow the rule of Stimulus (building phase)- Recovery (reduction in volume) – Adaptation (making progress), you don’t need to plan this in every week but personally I think having a light day programmed in will not only help your body but also your mind too.
Your limits are your limits, you need to find them out for yourself but to get the most accurate summation of what they are you will need to track everything you’re doing.