Structure Considerations

Ah Wednesday.
Half way through the working week, which means you can basically start to relax now an plan the forthcoming weekend because that’s what life’s about. We can also talk about workout structure and where/what your bias should be in programming your training each session.
This morning I stumbled across a rather nice piece by Vladmir M. Zatsiorsky, Ph.D. It was a great read on the average, sets, reps, intensity and total training volume of Russian lifters (there was also some reference to the Bulgarians as well), keep in mind this was written about weightlifting and developing max strength but the principles can be carried over to other endeavours as well.
How do you currently structure your workouts?
Here is the link, it’s well worth reading:
The short version:
– Average training load 75-80% of Comp Max
– Average reps (main lifts) 2-3
– Average sets (main lifts) 60
– Average reps (accessory lifts) 3-6 – Rep Max Correlated
– Average sets (accessory lifts) 15-25
There is also talk of protein degradation/synthesis and how training stimuli can effect this and what effect it would have on Strength, Hypertrophy etc.
The Short Version:
– For optimal Hypertrophy through a nice balance of degradation/synthesis multiple reps (8-10) with a 10-12RM for multiple efforts to fatigue is optimal (adjusting rest time helps to provide optimal fatigue – my own tip would be to repay your efforts until you lose significant speed on the bar, then stop before form goes to pot).
You can also get some great info on muscle fibre/motor unit recruitment and HOW you can get the most bang for your buck and which training methods suit this best – Maximal Effort, Repetition Effort, Dynamic Effort.
The Short Version:
– ME = Best for strength – neurological facilitation (FT muscle fibres nailed)- max weight, low rep, lots of sets
– RE = Best for hypertrophy/strength – MF/MU recruitment optimised through fatigue and repeated effort with a sub-maximal weight, basically nothing is left un-hit.
– DE = Best for power – Sports/skill specific focus, good to add some ploy’s before a heavy lift for extra MU firing/recruitment or after for further exhaustion of potential FT fibres missed in RE.
You will find that reading this give a pretty logical view of how you can use all three methods (if you choose) to make a great training session, or even just one if that is your primary focus. Just remember that when you add more of one you need to take away from one of the others, for example: higher intensity = lower volume otherwise you may literally die as you’re slowly crushed by a heavy lift.
I tend to use this as a guideline for putting a session together:
– Main lift 15-25 reps (5-15 for heavy deadlifts) – 85%+ 1RM
– Accessory lift A 25-50 reps – 5-10 RM based
– Accessory lift B 25-50 reps – 5-10RM based
– Accessory lift C 50 reps – isolation/weak point focus – Focus on feeling the muscle, weight is 10-15RM based typically.

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