Tag Archives: guidelines
If you want an optimally performing body you will need to have it in your training program.
CV training is loved by some as much as it is feared by others and as such there is a massive divide when it comes to its importance.
Some fear they will lose their hard earn muscle if they do even 5min of it, while others think their lungs will disintegrate if they do not do 60min every day. Both fallacies are wrong, you can blend CV with weights and keep an impressive amount of muscle, you can also add weight to your regular CV and still keep your pace/fitness without any compromise, let’s look at how.
If you’re in a calorie deficit and aiming to keep 4xRT (resistance training) sessions per week, given the intensity of each lifting day your body may respond better to LISS, simply due to the energy systems used predominantly when lifting weights, along with the fatigue you’d be having to manage. Adding in the extra intensity of intervals may compromise your recovery.
Let’s say you instead aim for 2xRT sessions per week, you may be abel to handle 2-3 interval sessions and manage the fatigue well. This would mean that you can get can over all more athletic training program going.
It is worth remembering that for optimal fat loss you will need a caloric deficit no matter what you do, the style of cardio you choose will be down to individual needs and preference/enjoyment.
The use of CV to help you create the necessary caloric deficit is a very good idea. You will find people occasionally try and do it through diet alone, not smart. A blend of the two would be the best and more optimal route to take.
At the start you would possibly have 2-3xRT and 2-3XInterval Sessions with a minor caloric deficit, which would adapt over time to 2-3xRT with 2-3XLISS to help manage fatigue as the calorie deficit from food increases and recovery start to become harder keep in the optimal zone.
All in all you can do which every style of CV yo enjoy, you just have to make sure you have a balanced program with it.
Cardio Bunnies, add in some weights, you’ll get a better body for it.
Meat Heads, add in some cardio, you’ll get a better body for it.
If you train 4 days per week here is a simple structure to blend both RT & CV:
Monday – RT – Loading (2-6RM), 25 reps per lift
Tuesday – CV – LISS – 70-80% Heart Rate Reserve 45-60min
Wednesday – Off – Stretching/foam rolling
Thursday – RT – Loading (6-10RM), 50 reps per lift
Friday – Off – Stretching/foam rolling
Saturday – Interval Training – 90%+ Heart Rate Reserve 30-45min – intervals of your choice (example: 60sec sprint, 120 sec rest)
Sunday – Off – Stretching/foam rolling
Simple, effective, easy on paper, not so easy if you put in 100% effort.
There is nothing better than feeling that deep burn and the sensation of completely exhausting a muscle.
However, should you really train that way all the time?
The concept of pushing the envelope every session is tempting and realistically you have a couple of options:
1 – Stop one or two reps before failure (RPE 8-9), then do an extra set with the same weight as before for more total volume.
2 – Do as many reps as you can and have a spotter help you complete the last rep, thus increasing intensity and mechanical fatigue/damage.
There have been plenty of studies over the recent years that have looked at studies that equate volume but differ in intensity, vary the amount of training days/frequency along with some other factors too (hopefully you will find the links to the studies and some other great articles below).
One thing that has become apparent is that for each individual there is an optimal balance between intensity and volume, too much of one works for a short period of time (2-3 weeks) but then starts to yield diminishing returns and requires more back-offs/deloads.
You want to stimulate the muscle to create the need for an adaptive response, that’s the bottom line.
What would this look like in terms of sets/reps in a workout?
A1 – Main Compound Movement – 8×3 – RPE 8-9
B1 – Accessory Movement – 3-6x4x6 – RPE 8-9
B2 – Accessory Movement – 3-6x4x6 – RPE 8-9
C1 – Isolation/Weakpoint Movement – 3×8-12 – RPE 8-10 or 3xFail
Using either a Pull-Push-Legs split on a 3on-1off rotation or perhaps a 4 day Upper/Lower Split.
^^ You could perhaps work towards failure on the last exercise as this would be weak point/isolation training.
Why no specific % of 1RM?
That answer is simple, it’s because not everyone can lift the same in relative terms of their 1RM. Some people might hit a 5RM with 87% of their 1RM wile others might only manage 80% at a push. This can be because of how they are neurologically wired or just down to the fact that they are massively strong and lifting far more absolute weight. Thus RPE is a better way to program your lifts.
***Let the weight dictate the reps.***
Take this info and do some digging yourself, then try applying it for a 3-6month training cycle, feel free to use the workout structure above or create your own. You will find that the longer you can stick with a small progression/overload the longer you will progress in the long run. There’s no sense in throwing every extra technique in to your training until you need to do so.
^^ This link will give you some more info on RPE.
The amount of training knowledge/resources that have become available over the last decade are absolutely outstanding, however knowing which ones to read and then apply for you can be difficult.
Here is a quick guide to the types of methods that will work well deepening on a persons experience levels. Obviously that is not to say that the methods can’t be used in any level, this is just a frame/guide for the most optimal use of them from my experience.
Beginners – Less than 2 years training experience
– Linear Progression (think 5×5)
– The Hepburn Method (think double/triple progression)
Intermediate – Between 2-4 years training experience
– Block Periodisation (think 1-3month strength, hypertrophy, cutting)
– RPE Based Programming (look up reactive training systems)
Advanced – 4+ years training experience
– DUP/WUP (weekly or daily undulating periodisation, this would be a heavy-light-medium rotation on either daily or weekly sessions)
– Daily Maxing & Back Off Sets (working to a heavy rep range then backing off for volume, look up auto-regulation)
Now all of these methods can be used at any level, however you will notice that the more advanced the lifer becomes in terms of training age the more intuitive the workouts become, this is because they will have gained a sense of how their body works and how hard to push themselves, something some intermediates have but a form of training beginners should not go near quite yet.
You will find that some top level athletes use block periodisation and have a very structured program because that’s how they work best, there is technically no ‘best’ training method, however there are ones that are better suited depending on a persons level of experience.
Take the tips in this post and look objectively at the information you seek so that you can find what is best for you at this current stage. Once you find something that you want to put in to action I suggest you do it for at least 3 months, perhaps 6 because only then will you know if it’s working for you.
As Captain Barbossa once said “They’re more like guidelines than actually rules.”
Frequency is King for adding both Strength & Size.
There are a few people who can indeed bend or completely shatter this rule, they are as follows:
– PED users.
– Genetic Elite (however frequency gives them more oomph).
– The Strong.
Now when it comes to PED users they will have an increased rate of recovery, protein synthesis and generally be more anabolic. The same is true for the genetic elite, while they are natural, their body responds far better which means they can make great progress on minimal frequency.
Both PED users and the Genetic Elite do benefit from training at a higher frequency, you can look back at various training records across differing sports to confirm this, there are several references in the Science & Practice of Strength training and Super Training if you want a place to start.
So what about The Strong?
What is strong?
Is a 405lbs or 180kg squat strong? Yes, but it’s not earth shattering. You could still get a benefit out of squatting 2-3times per week with sub max loads based on those squatting numbers. However if you are squatting 700lbs or 317kg you might do well squatting once per week or maybe even less frequently because of the amount of neurological stress handling even sub max weight would induce.
Now strength is indeed relative, to a point. A 60kg lifter lifting 180kg may adhere to the rule of less frequency, they may not.
The bottom line is that being strong may require you to use a lower frequency, until that weight becomes light, then you increase frequency to once again progress until you start hitting ridiculous numbers, but once you start hitting those you can do pretty much what ever you like.
Unless you are one of these incredibly strong individuals erring on the side of more frequency of a lift (2-4 times per week on separate days or more with twice or triple day training if you have the luxury) will get you better results than hitting it just once.
One of the most common questions asked is this:
“What sort of sets & reps should I do for XYZ?”
It has and will always be asked because people want to find that magic/perfect answer that will allow them to make the fastest progress with the least possible effort. However, the answer will usually stay they same as well. What is the answer?
Or does it?
If you read enough and look in the right places you can find your answers, so long as you read objectively and understand that what ever your reading is only a snippet of the bigger picture.
The answer for building strength (motor unit recruitment) with additional hypertrophy is what we will look at today.
There are many fine books out there on the science and principles of training. They all have various things in common, one in particular being that Overload must be achieved through optimal stimulus that is specifically relevant to the goal. However due to the law of accommodation the original stimulus you expose yourself to eventually yields diminishing returns because your body always finds a way of becoming efficient and adapted, this is where you need to increase the stimulus to once again initiate this process (training facilitates an increase in protein synthesis meaning more potential growth, but that’s a topic for another day).
This is not a new concept, your body will adapt and progress, thus you will have a higher starting point for your next cycle of training. While you may have to drop some sets/reps to start again it will allow for recovery/adaptation so you can keep moving forwards. Think two steps forwards one step back.
Each time you subject your body to overload and recover/adapt from that overload you will be able to do more because of an increased tolerance/baseline (Strength, CV etc). In short the more you do the more you need to do to keep progressing or in fact maintain what you have. The old adage of ‘Use it or lose it’ is actually true, while it might not be in the form of muscular atrophy there will some motor pattern recruitment degradation which means you won’t recruit as many fibers in one go and lift less overall.
So what does that have to do with answering the question of the optimal set/rep range? Well thanks to a great many people who were diligent enough to record hundreds of athletes training routines spanning 50+ years, we can see a general pattern and what is more effective, in a general sense based on that particular mesocycle. A good book for your reference is the Science & Practice of Strength Training By Zatsiorsky & Kramer if you wish to know what I am basing this post on (it’s been a while since I read it, hopefully I won’t be too far out with the numbers.).
There are some factors you will want to keep in mind before we go on:
– Loading (weight on the bar)
– Number of Reps performed
– Volume (total amount of weight lifted overall with X weight)
– Density of Workout (sets performed in 1 hour)
The information I am basing this on was one that followed the Olympic Weightlifting teams in their run up to the 1972, 1976 & 1988 games. Their average reps in the assistance lifts – Squat, FS, Deadlift, RDL, Pressing, Rows etc (not the competition lifts of Clean & Jerk/Snatch) fell in the range of 2-7 reps with the most frequently used being 5-6, their average sets in this was logged at 24-26 (weekly for each cycle). The athletes did use 7+ rep ranges but the total sets were a lot lower, this was down to the overall mechanical/movement/muscular fatigue occurred that may impact the frequency of their training. It seemed that the average of 25-50 reps per session for assistance exercises was the norm. This was not on one exercise but across all exercises for the lower or upper muscle groups respectively.
When it came to their loading 35% of the total load was set at 70-80% of their respective maxes, then 26% in 90% and 24% in 60-70%. When you look at the overall they spent 59% of their time training in the 60-80% loading rage, this would be because of the ability to recover not only physically but also neurologically from this amount of load. When you take your loading to 90%+ you will find there is a heavy demand on the CNS and also the mind as well. The total volume for the 60-80% would be made up of multiple sets of 4-7 where as the 90+ would be 1-3.
*When strength training you want to recruit the maximal amount of fibers possible to elicit the largest response, put simply. This will help you make the most potential progress, provided you adequately recover and have optimal nutrition (while some functional overreaching is good, too much will result in burn out, no progress or potentially regression. It’s all about finding that balance in the most amount of work you can recover from while still increasing your work load over time.).
So what can you take away from this to help you build strength and size? Based on the higher end numbers, because no one really want to lift light weights, these are some guidelines to follow:
– Loading – 70-80%
– Reps – 4-7
– Sets – 6+ (25-50 total reps per session will influence this)
– Density – You may start with 25 reps for a total at 6x4x80% done twice per week being enough to elicit a positive adaptation while recovering, the density can increase by adding sets for example and building to 50 rep total 12x4x80%.
These are by no means rules that are set in stone, however they have been proven to work in the past. If you are looking to build a solid performance based foundation. For the average person I would advice at least 72 hours between sessions such as these. you might end up with something that looks like this:
Monday – Lower – squat, block deadlift, lunge,
Tuesday – Upper – press, pull up, bench press, row, dip
Wednesday – Off or CV
Thursday – Lower – deadlift, front squat, loaded carry
Friday – Upper – incline press, chin up, behind neck press, row, curl
Saturday – Off or CV
Sunday – Off/Foam Rolling
*You will do well to pick exercises that will give you the most band for your buck – large compound movements.
Use these guidelines and find the most you can do while still recovering and adding more. You can push typically hard for around 3 weeks, then you need to drop it back. This can mean lowering the volume/intensity to your original starting point before you undergo a new 3 week accumulation phase (remember the intensity will be higher than your first phase – eg phase 1 100kg 6×4 to phase to 105kg 6×4).