Tag Archives: program design
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.
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.
Now given the title you’d be forgiven in thinking that this post is all about pushing to the limit or you’re just faffing about, and while that’s indeed a part of the post it’s not the main point.
When it comes to training hard the body seems to be able to handle 3 weeks of pushing to it’s limit, then you need to back off because things start to go wrong. A lot of people try to push too hard for too long, here is how you can avoid that mistake and plan accordingly.
If you were looking to plan this in to a structured block it might look like this:
Volume – weeks 1-3
- Week 1 8x8x70%
- Week 2 8x7x75%
- Week 3 8x6x80%
Intensification – weeks 4-6
- Week 4 6x4x85%
- Week 5 6x3x90%
- Week 6 6x2x92-95%
Deload week – week 7
- Week 7 – 3x8x previous 75%
Volume Block 2 – weeks 8-10
- Week 8 – 8x8x70% +2.5-10kg (lift dependent)
- Week 9 – 8x7x75% +2.5-10kg (lift dependent)
- Week 10 – 8x6x80% +2.5-10kg (lift dependent)
And so on.
You cycle thought 6 week blocks of volume accumulation and intensification with a planned reduction in volume after the 6 weeks, you can continue this for 2-3 mesocycles typically (6 week blocks) after which time typically a rest week is needed, however if you’ve done 12-18 weeks of progressive training you will need that week off. Once you return your base numbers will be biter than previous.
It is important to cycle your loading/volume so that you avoid excessive inroad and burn out, going hard (intensification) for more than three weeks does you no favours, wave the loads for continued progression.
Volume – Total amount lifted per session (or per week/training block)
Intensity – The overall % lifted relative to your given Rep Maxes
Density – Doing more done in the same time/same done in less time
Frequency – How many times per week you train a muscle group
Four key elements of programming, however they are often overlooked by many.
When I say this it is in reference to how some novice/intermediate lifters don’t take in to account how to correctly plan them in their workouts to ensure constant progression over the long term.
Often people will look to progress volume and only volume, which sadly leads to a lot of junk volume.
Your numbers on paper might increase in terms of total amount done, but this can be from adding in massive amounts of isolation exercises with very light weights, which does nothing but cause fatigue and provide little to no adaptive stimulus. Essentially the more volume you add in willy-nilly, the lower you make your average intensity.
To establish your total volume: Sets x Reps x Weight = Total Volume
Be careful of that trap.
Many know how to increase intensity. You simply add more weight, simple.
The downside with adding too much intensity is that there is a compromise in the amount of total volume you can lift, so while this is great for getting stronger and making neural connections etc, it does little for adding size because you start to lack the necessary amount of stimulus to do so.
You just can’t lift super heavy weights (relative to your own strength levels) for lot’s of reps.
In most good programs you’ll find the average intensity falls at around 85% of 1RM for each respective lift, with a decent amount of volume (volume differed from person to person specifically, however 80-210 reps seems to be the common theme for hypertrophy at a good average intensity).
How to establish average intensity: Sets x Reps x Weight (all exercises of session) / Reps = Average Intensity
Now, lets talk about density.
A quick example of how it works: You train squats for 45min, total volume is 10,00kg, average intensity is 80%, next session you hit those same numbers in 40min OR you hit 11,000kg in 45min, in both you have increased the density of the session.
^^ That’s also how you establish how dense each session is, how much you’re doing in what times.
Great for keeping your intensity/volume in the right areas while focusing on getting more quality work out and less faffing about.
This is usually a forgotten method of progression, however it’s one of the more useful ones.
Lastly we have frequency.
If you are training a body part once per week you will make progress, plenty of people do, however what they don’t seem to realise is that there is a high degree of crossover in training certain areas, such as chest & arms one day, then shoulders & arms another – both will actually hit similar muscle groups.
It’s common for en especially to have 3-4 upper body sessions in a week when following a standard Bro-Split and only one leg day, this is why their legs end up lagging behind.
In an optimal world you will train each muscle group 2-3 times per week, keeping in mind that some training sessions have cross over to others, here is the typical thought process of how to plans sessions to optimise that crossover:
– Legs: Anterior chain (Quads as main focus, hammies as secondary etc)
– Legs: Posterior chain (Hammies as main focus, quads as secondary etc)
^^ A good 7 day split that hits each muscle group twice per week, you’d do Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday each week 🙂.
All of the above will help you program a successful way to the gains you desire.
The key to progression is progression.
People forget that, please don’t be one of them.
How do you plan your progression in your programs?
There are a lot of different ways to structure a program, typically because of the specific needs of the person it is for, however for those of you who want to achieve the following:
– Fitness (improved CV/VO2 Max)
– Better Body Composition (lose body fat & increase lean muscle)
– Improve Mobility/Flexibility
– Aquire Skill
– Improve mental health
This simple structure idea will help you plan your workouts to achieve all of the above.
Program Design 101:
– Warm Up – 5min
– Mobility – 10min
– Strength &/or Skill Element – 20min
– Metabolic Conditioning Section – 15min
– Flexibility Enhancement – 10min
– Warm Down – 5min
Looks simple enough, doesn’t it.
Here is what a workout might look like:
– www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8QxbtcA5hU – Routine example
– A1: Deadlift, A2: Press 5-3-2-5-3-2-5 – Reps dictate the weight
– B1: Loaded Carry 20m, B2: 400m Sprint – AMRAP in 15min
– www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ia5ZTVQnsBw -Routine example
– Foam rolling & short meditation
You will notice the workout is nothing special, however it covers multiple facets of fitness for those who want an all round package, rather than an ultra specific one.
How does it all work?
Skipping allows for a nice warm up and also some skill/coordination practice, as does the mobility routine example.
The strength is set in an example of a 5-3-2 wave to allow for muscle potentiation, both exercises hit the major muscle groups of the body. When the metabolic section beings you will gain more strength from the loaded carry along with power/CV/endurance/fat loss from the sprints.
Finally you have a nice example stretching routine followed by some gentle foam rolling and meditation to bring clarity of thought and lower the stress of life.
What is written above isn’t gospel, it’s an example, a good example mind you but ann example never the less. You can adapt it however you see fit.