I came across this article while browsing through the inter webs for knowledge and it’s too good not to share.
Christian Thibaudeau is one of my favourite and his knowledge is phenomenal, you’ll enjoy this read.
I will certainly be giving this a go as I am currently short on time in my own training.
What do they mean would be the best question to ask first of all.
These numbers are in reference to the frequency of training a muscle group, or if you are less about the aesthetic and more about performance it will be in reference to movement patterns.
So 3-2-1 is ideal for beginners and people who are short on time yet still want to make a decent amount of progress in terms of strength, hypertrophy, performance and fat loss.
Squat 3 days per week
Press 2 days per week
Deadlift 1 day per week
I’d also add in pulling (elbow flexion) and hip extension movements (rows, pull ups, face pulls, reverse fly, swings, rope pull throughs etc) to the three day group as these patterns are often left out.
Press vertically and horizontally both days, this would also encompass all elbow extension exercises – skull crushers etc.
The reason many will do well deadlifting once per week as they can often lift more weight in this lift and as such will cause more metabolic disturbance.
Taking in to consideration what is above you can guess where 5-3-2 is going.
Yep, more frequency for people with more experience who fall in the intermediate level and need more exposure to the movements.
Depending on goal you may find you squat 3 or 5 times per week, the sam gif true for pressing/pulling it might be 3 or 5 days, you can adjust this as you need to.
Press/Pull 5 days per week
Squat 3 days per week
Deadlift 2 days per week
Over the years it has been shown that more often than not the more frequently you train something (the more exposure it has to training stimuli) the stronger it is and the more developed the muscle/area/movement looks.
Now these guidelines aren’t gospel, they’re just a guide to give people some direction.
What is 1-1-1 then?
Yep, you’ve probably worked it out.
You may even find that you’re one of the luck ones who can train things once per week and make progress, if that is the case then stick with what works because there is no sense in fixing what isn’t broken. If this is you, just make sure each session you give it your all for maximal progress, due to the low frequency you will need to hammer the muscle to hit your required volume/intensity/work capacity needs.
In terms of my own training I will tell you that higher frequency has very much helped me gain high levels of strength relative to my size (what is needed for the combative sports is partake in), however when I dropped my frequency – it was still a minimum of twice per week per muscle group – I made more hypertrophic progress, this was due to not only a different style of training but also eating in a caloric surplus*.
*You need to be in a calorie surplus to gain weight, you’ll struggle if you’re not in one, regardless of set or rep range. If you want to shift fat you can train int he same way you will just need a caloric deficit, fact.
Take a look at your training and compete the frequency of your lifts to what body parts you have developed the most, you’ll probably find the ones you train the most are the best, or as some might say “Those are you naturally strong areas” – well duh, you train them more, they’re going to be stronger than the ones you avoid.
Training is all about learning, applying and adapting until you find what work best for YOU.
Let’s get started.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the classic line of “You need to change up your training to keep the body guessing” or something along those lines.
While having some changes in your training program is good for novelty and staving off the boredom, too much change too often will leave you without any real progress due to a lack of suitable adaptation.
Look at is this way; if you want to get better at a certain skill you practice that skill over and over and over again, the same is true fro lifting weights/training, you need repeated and sustained efforts to adapt and progress, chopping and changing every session won’t provide too much in the way of progress.
While you might not like that fact is it very much the case.
Take a look at people who do an ever changing amount of classes, they shift their excess fat and build some small amount of muscle (this is great btw), however past that point they end up looking no better because they don’t want to buckle down and stay with a training program for longer than a couple of weeks.
It’s a common issue that everyone falls victim to.
Now it is worth noting that some people do indeed need change every 2 weeks in there training, however those people are usually genetically gifted and 9/10 times you’re not that person, you’re the one who needs to stay consistent to a program for at least 12-16 weeks, sorry, that’s how it is.
When all that is said and done these words are only simple bits of advice, you can do what ever the hell you want, in the end it makes no different to me personally. If you’re happy with your training and your results then fill your boots, however if you’re not then you’d do well to take this on board.
You will often find the most successful training programs are often the most boring.
The introduction and more frequent use of ‘back off sets’ has become quite popular of late.
You’ll find you can use them to determine suitable loading for your next session, increase total TUT and even help you maintain your progress if you find your gym training time has been chopped down due to life getting in the way.
In the past this has happened several times and as such a way and to be found to get in some quality work, here is an option for you, it will take anywhere from 20-30min tops, try not to spend longer than 30min (especially if your time is limited), just focus on hard work.
This protocol will:
– Provide suitable mechanical tension for strength
– Generate metabolic stress for adaptation
– Create muscle damage for new growth
All you need to do is follow the guidelines and put in all your effort, eat the calories required for your goal (I’ve written about this previously), sleep and stay focused.
Let’s get down o the details.
– Use compound movements (Squat, DL, Press, Chin, Row, etc)
– 1 or 2 per workout (A1/A2 pairing)
– Ramp up your weights each set, start off with 5’s and work to one heavy set, then add a little more weight for a 3, then finally a little more for 1 single. The triple/single aren’t all out efforts, only the 5, they’re just for extra neural stimulation.
– Take 70% of the top 5 and perform 1 back off set of 10-20 reps unbroken
– Rest is minimal between sets, go as soon as you feel ready
– 3 sessions per week is a good minimum to cover the full body
You will be in and out in no time at all.
This short style of workout will allow heavy enough loads to trigger a host of positive things and the back of set will further potentiate this.
If you find you’re doing all of this in 20min then use the extra 10 for some accessory movements (arms, calves etc).
The protocol above is nothing fancy, it’s devised to get maximum results out of minimum time and as such leaves no room for dilly-dallying.
Do you need to squat heavy?
It pains me to say this, however there is technically no need to squat heavy weights…
That said, there is a basic necessity for the squatting movement pattern as it will ensure healthy ankles, knees, hips and loads more.
The squat is a fundamental human movement pattern, you need it, fact.
I am personally bias towards heavy squats, I love them, however they are not for everyone, some people may have injuries that prevent them going heavy, this is fair enough, they can adapt and do things such as goblet or front squats as substitutes, so long as they are performing the movement pattern all is good.
This short post is just to remind you that it’s okay not to squat heavy, you just need to be performing the movement in some way, shape or form to stay healthy.
Here is a simple workout structure for those who need some guidance, you can pick which ever :
W/U – Squatting pattern – Example: Goblet Squat 50 reps
A1 – Hinging movement 15-25 rep goal
B1 – Pressing movement
B2 – Pulling movement 25-50 rep goal for both
C1 – Core movement or Loaded Carry 30 rep goal or Distance for Time (e.g., 10min)
Easy, all you need do for exercise ideas is simply find a list of movements and pick ones that you feel like doing on the day.
Actually, hold on…
^^ A great resource, they’ve got some fantasist bits on there to read, enjoy it.
Accumulation & intensification
Basically the way you can structure blocks of training to help improve one or multiple elements of training.
These can be used in 2,3,4 week blocks each time or even sometimes as long as 6 weeks a piece, you can even do 6 weeks accumulation and 2 weeks intensification, this will all be down to how the individual responds.
Let’s look at some examples:
A1 – Squat
A2 – Chin
A1 – Press
A2 – Row
Day 3 – Off
A1 – Deficit Deadlift
A2 – Dip
Day 5 – Off
A1 – Front Squat
A2 – Dumbbell Clean & Press
Day 7 – Off
Acc – Weeks 1-3 – 6×6-8×70% 1RM wk 1, 72.5/75% wk 2&3
Int – Weeks 4-5 – 8x3x85% wk4, 87.5% wk5
Acc – Weeks 6-8 – 6×6-8×72.5% 1RM wk 6, 75/77.5% wk 7&8
Int – Weeks 9-10 – 8x3x87.5% wk9, 90% wk10
Deload (volume reduction or 30-60%)
Start process again for another 10weeks, starting Acc 75%, starting Int 90%
You get the idea.
The same would apply for CV training, you’d start off with a moderate intensity based on the fitness assessment results of your clients initial tests, then plan in steady state work, intervals and so on.
Each Acc/Int phase will differ in set/rep/load planing based on the clients goal, etc.
Example rep/loading ranges:
Strength – 1-6 – 85%+ 1RM
Hypertrophy 6-20 – 60-85% 1RM
Some people will need more variety and change ever couple of weeks (dopamine dominant), others may do well to stay on the same protocol for 6weeks (balanced across all neurotransmitters), it’s up to you as the trainer to find out what is best for the client.