In the quest to understand how to write a solid program I have covered Specificity, Overload & Recovery which are realistically the three most important parts of a program.
Without specificity you will not really be able to progress because you don’t know what you want.
Without Overload you won’t adapt.
Without (Sufficient) Recovery you can’t keep training and achieving overload, thus meaning you can’t progress.
Okay, you can progress without specificity provided you get the second two right but you wouldn’t train like a body builder if you wanted to run marathon would you. This is why specificity is top.
I briefly mention SRA (Stimulus, Recover, Adaptation) in the post on recovery as they are closely linked.
When you program your training you will follow the rule of Stimulus (building phase)- Recovery (reduction in volume) – Adaptation (making progress). This can be programmed in or done naturally for the more experienced lifter – not for anyone who has less than 5 years training experience.
A good example of a program that follows this rule is The Texas Method (a 5×5 variation). In this program you would typically have your first lifting day programmed with 5×5 @80-90% of your 1RM (either a true max or training max), the second lifting day your weights would stay the same but instead of 5 working sets at 80-90% you would only have 2 if memory serves me correctly. When you approach the last day you simply ramp up to a new 5RM and then adjust your weights accordingly for the upcoming week.
The theory behind this program is such that you will stimulate the muscles sufficiently to force a positive adaptive response with the 5×5, then the 2×5 give your body a chance to recover while still staying primed neurologically (staying familiar with the weight) so that when it comes to your ramp on Friday you can work up to a new 5RM.
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. Check the post on recovery where I spoke about the use of Medium-Light-Heavy Days.