Tag Archives: programming

Periodising cardio.

Usually the average person will do this without any rhyme or reason, they just do it.

No consideration for heart rate targets or what they’re actually trying to achieve.

Keeping it simple you’ve got 3 main types of CV to program:

Steady State – Long Run
Interval – Planned Sprints
Fartlek – Mixture of sprinting, jogging, walking

Nothing spectacularly new, although you can also hit the old heart muscle by a combination method that is lifting related CV.

Think complexes with dumbbells, bars, bell, bags, etc.

One of the ideas behind the hybrid of weight/CV is to have a change in the muscle composition and gain more mitochondria as a result and this would happen in by playing with density, sustained effort/repeated muscular contractions with a suitable load to really create the desired oxygen debt.

All good for fat-loss too, provided you do some basic maths & tracking.

Any of these methods are great for establishing your heart rate targets:

Old Faithful: 220 – Age
Karvonen Formula: 206.9-(age *.67)-RHR * %Effort+RHR
MAF Method: 180 – Age
Any Online Calculator

Once you’ve gotten the numbers you can begin programming whichever out of the cardio above that suits you.

It is worth remembering that while you may enjoy the more higher intensity/impact, this may not quite be the most optimal if you also plan on achieving other goals such as strength, for example.

Many forget to account for the additional fatigue.

It’s why many can program in lower intensity work, or the Steady State side of things far more easily because they’re not that drawing on the nervous system and don’t always create too much fatigue, provided you’re monitoring your heart rate and don’t turn it into slugfest.

You see that is the common issue, people turn everything into a battle.

Keeping this in mind we can look at the programming using this classic principle: FITT

Frequency – 3 days per week
Intensity – 60% HRR
Time – 20min
Type – Steady State (varied: walk, bike, skip etc)

In the light of knowing about basic and time honoured linear periodisation, you may end up with something like this (for say health/fat loss goal that is).

Say we have someone who is very deconditioned –

Week 1 – x3p/w, 60%HRR, 20min
Week 2 – x3p/w, 60%HRR, 25min
Week 3 – x4p/w, 60%HRR, 22min
Week 4 – x4p/w, 60%HRR, 27min
Week 5 – x5p/w, 60%HRR, 24min
Week 6 – x5p/w, 60%HRR, 29min
Week 7 – x6p/w, 60%HRR, 26min
Week 8 – x6p/w, 60%HRR, 31min
Week 9 – x7p/w, 60%HRR, 28min
Week 10 – x7p/w, 60%HRR, 33min

At this point you may choose to tweak things in block2:

Week 1 – x3p/w, 62%HRR, 30min
Week 2 – x3p/w, 62%HRR, 30min
Week 3 – x4p/w, 64%HRR, 30min
Week 4 – x4p/w, 64%HRR, 30min
Week 5 – x5p/w, 66%HRR, 30min
Week 6 – x5p/w, 66%HRR, 30min
Week 7 – x6p/w, 68%HRR, 30min
Week 8 – x6p/w, 68%HRR, 30min
Week 9 – x7p/w, 70%HRR, 30min
Week 10 – x7p/w, 70%HRR, 30min

^ You can laso use other equations calculate how many potnteial calories you burn in each session, just take it with a pinch of salt, as they’re often a guide, not a gospel.

Chances are you can see the pattern here, after this block the intensity might perhaps stay at 70%, then you may look at increasing the time again, perhaps working towards 45min, 7xp/w with 70%HRR, at which point you may opt for starting to add in some more intense forms of CV.

That is provided the base level health & fitness/conditioning goals have been hit (drop in body fat, lowering of resting heart rate, etc).

Of course the cardio is only one element, you’d also do well to have people in making nutritional improvements in regards to the quality of their foods, a small caloric deficit (if they’re carrying too much excess body fat) and in addition to that overall behaviour/habit change.

The comes the age old question.

Do we do this before or after weights?

Personal preference is as follows:

After or at a completely different time.

In an ideal world where people actually stuck to their word and make the positive lifestyle improvements they speak of doing, they’d do this light CV in the AM upon waking.

Combining that with turning off all electronics at say 9pm, and getting to bed before 11pm, and then starting the day at say 5:30-6am for some quick and rewarding CV will not be too hard.

You can delve into the literature, however this sets people up for the day with various cognitive benefits, more perceived energy and also leads to potentially beneficial habit changes in their attitude/personality (more confident, etc).

Another personal preference is to not eat post CV, just because it’s rarely needed and many will overdo their calorie consumption, so waiting for an hour or two post gentle CV as descried above would be ideal.

Before you panic and think you’ll lose all your gains.

Chances are you won’t, in all fairness you’ll probably gain far more benefits to your current progress due to increase conditioning, better & faster recovery due to improved circulation and a whole host of other benefits too.

So dear people, how much thought do you give to your cardio programming?

I know some of you are keen endurance practitioners & athletes, so sharing your knowledge would make for great reading for everyone.

Please do leave your musings below.

Enjoy, Ross

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Posterior Power Up

Fancy a 30day challenge for your posterior chain?

Even if you don’t you’ll find one below anyway.

You’ll be doing 300 reps per day of the following:

Fast – Swings (variations), Snatches, Cleans (kettlebell)
Slow – Pull Ups, Rows, Curls – any variation of all of these
Flow – Reverse Flies, Face Pulls, Tricep Work (variations)

This means 100 total reps in each section.

One reason for the offering of different movement options is so that you can avoid overworking one specific thing.

The idea is to accumulate a lot of work for that lagging rear aspect of your body, which sadly is the case for a lot of people.

Here is a three day example:

Day 1 – Single Arm Swings, Pull Ups, Face Pulls
Day 2 – Snatches, Rows, Reverse Flies
Day 3 – Swings, Curls, Tricep Banded Pulldown

You may then choose to repeat these three 9 more times, or continue to vary things up.

Personally the option would be to stick with the above and try to improve on each session when it comes back around as this will have a higher chance of progression than constantly varying things up.

You’ll find the above can be done in less than 30min.

Thus making it suitable for many who have other training they wish to do (all be it at a recused volume).


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Taking your foot off the GAS is a part of the program

Do you even Deload?

The accumulation of volume and/or intensity over a period of time is crucial for achieving progression.

Progressive overload demands it.

Building up an inroad, fatigue and overall stimulus that will lead to adaptation and super-compensation is something many strive for.

This is only one side of the coin though.

You see the human organism, while it’s good at handling stress, eventually it will go from being able to use that accumulated stress in a positive fashion to adapt.

Instead it kicks into merely surviving.

Many will find this comes in the form of stagnation or a plateau, now there are two choices from here (ideally you’d take the right one before this happens though).

The first that many take is to add more stress.

More volume, more intensity, more training, just more.

This leads to what is called ‘natures deload’, injury.

Now you’re forced to rest and recover, to which there may be a super-compensation, although it’s potentially unlikely due to the length of time you may need to take away from training due to the injury.

Essentially rendering everything you did was a waste of time.

The second option is to simply plan in deload periods.

Typically this is how they work:

The first action is that after every 4th, 6th, 7th week of training (or when your tolerance is reached), you will lower the total volume.

Taking it down by 40-60% is ideal, erring towards the higher side of reduction is sensible, intensity can be sustained in the form of loading, yet may just do a single top working set, or something heavy-ish that feels too easy.

^ Not getting drawn into a tough session.

You will repeat this periodically throughout a training cycle.

Once you’ve hit your pea of desired goal, you then deload the intensity & volume at the same time.

This is often best done in a week off, followed by a small feeder week with low volume and base level intensity to allow your body to get back into the rhythm before you next training cycle.

All of the above is based off of the GAS model by Selye, because it works.

Personally I enjoy a three week wave of training for people.

Week 1 – Novel Stimulus & Reduction in Previous Volume
Week 2 – Accumulation/Stabilisation
Week 3 – Small Volume or Intensity PB
Week 1 – Repeats in Volume Reduction & Intensity Increase

These would be organise in several blocks to create a larger block of training.

This is because the venous system tends to take 2-3 weeks to ramp up and after that you will need to take your foot off the gas pedal a tad.

Go digging through various high level peoples training and scientific books on it, you’ll find the above in them.

Be sure to get comfortable taking things down a notch to allow yourself to move forwards and not burn yourself out.


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A sensible approach to 1000 rep training

While staring up at a clear blue sky yesterday I allow my thoughts to wonder.

Seeing them pass by, some fast, others slow.

These three threads lingered long enough to pull on.

1 – Have conviction in your goal.
2 – Sacrifice is necessary for success.
3 – A sensible 1000 rep training protocol.

Yep, the last one had me sit up an write it down before it vanished into the ether.

Here is how it works:

500 reps – mobility/restorative work -10-15min

Meaning it’s done in the warm up, say sets of 50 reps per movement, gives you 10 total movements and can be easily done in 15min.

I wondered where this came from, then realised since I’ve personally been doing ‘movement’ work before my JJ drilling I total around this many reps across the movements used to warm up.

Cawls, Kosac lunges, band pull apart, arm circles, etc.

As a result aches/pains in specific areas has dissipated, movement have improved and I’ve been able to ‘find’ another area that has been restricting my shoulder (intercostals funnily enough) because of better feeling/sensitivity.

300 reps – Wenning Warm Up -10-15min

A great little gem from Matt Wenning, I will link the video because his explanation is worth 10min of your time.


The only difference is using 3 movements instead of his recommended 4.

The three cover: Prime Mover, Synergist, Stabilisers.

Now to the last part.

200 reps – Main Work – 30 to 45min

This can be from one lift only, such as ‘Squat 10x20x120kg’ or you can have 100 reps for your main lift and 100 for accessory work, the breakdown of the 200 reps is up to you.

Personal bias likes these options:

– Main Lift Only
– Main Lift & 1 Supplementary Lift (agonist or antagonist)
– Main Lift & 2 Supplementary Lifts (agonist or antagonist)

All very simple, and would last anywhere for 50-75min total.

Of course this doesn’t delve into the tempo you can play with, the rep breakdowns or overall programming, it’s just a novel way of using a 1000 rep system to your advantage.

Give it some thought.


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Twigs or Tree Stumps

Leg day, it’s a great day.
There are endless options for training based on your specific goal.
Without delving into that side of things though let us look at first ‘how’ the legs like to be trained.
While not gospel, this is a good overall guide.
Anterior Chain – High Time Under Tension (TUT)
Posterior Chain – Heavy &/or Fast
In a nutshell that’s it.
Muscles such as the quads and various other ones in what fall under the guise of the anterior chain (front of the body), tend to like to be under a lot of tension, and for sustained periods of time.
As such the sub maximal loading, for higher rep rangers tend do work very well here, as does things such as hill sprints, pushing sleds and so on.
Due to their ability to recover well you can really nail them.
Whereas the hamstrings, glutes, and other posterior chain muscles like to have that real deep high threshold motor nit recruitment going on (HTMUR).
This is achieved with higher sub-maximal loads, lower reps and more focus on CAT (compensatory acceleration training), or speed work.
To contrast the two in very basic movement or exercise selection –
A1 – Squats 5-7×15
B1 – Walking Lunge 3-4×20-25 (per leg)
A1 – DL 5-7×2
A2 – Triple Bound Jump
B1 – Stiff Leg DL 3-4×8-12
You may be wondering about calves, those in my experience response well to very high volume, stupidly high in fact, plus they’re incredibly strong too, so don’t be afraid to train hem with say 2-3 sets to momentary muscular failure.
To combine the anterior/posterior into one session you’d get something like this:
A1 – Triple Bound Jump x3-5 sets (stop before speed slows)
A2 – Stiff Leg DL x6-12
B1 – Squats 4-6×15
C1 – Calf Raise 2x Fail
Strong and powerful legs are the sign of true athleticism.
Many will spend the majority of their training time hitting upper body, say for an arbitrary number that’s 66% of their total training.
Really they’d do far better to have that be focused on the legs, at least in the earlier years of training.
Setting up a 5 day split may look like this:
Day 1 – Lower Body (quad & calf focus)
Day 2 – Upper Body (chest & back focus)
Day 3 – Off
Day 4- Lower Body (hamstring focus, with some supplementary shoulders or arms)
Day 5 – Off
This would then repeat.
Sadly it’ll get discounted by many due to there not being enough upper body, yet that’s the very same reason why so many people in the gym have terrible legs.
Of course the above is merely something for you to consider.
Plan your training how you see fit and based on your specific goals.

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⏱ Fitness in 15 Minutes ⏱

All that you will find below has been field tested.
Working many weird and wonderful hours over the years my own training occasionally took a back seat 🥺
There was two main choices in dealing with this:
🤬 – Get angry & moan about how unjust the world was
🔐 – Find ways to unlock training potential in limited time
The latter was opted for.
I called it Amber Light Training because you’ve got just enough time, however you need to make a good choice of how to use it.
It’s worth remembering that while you can gain some impressive results from hitting on 15min of training, there is one HUGE caveat –
Nothing will work unless you do 💪
Keeping this in mind, here are 5 short sessions that provide a lot of bang for your buck.
– 30 rounds of 30 seconds
This works wonders with 3 movements, my favourite was as follows:
A1 – Kettlebell Swings x10
B1 – Press Ups x10
C1 – Goblet Squats x10
You’d do 5min on each, meaning 10 sets of 30 seconds, you only rest the time between you finishing the reps and the start of the next 30 second round.
🏃‍♀️ – Hill/Stair Sprints
Pretty simple, you find something to sprint up & walk back down, this is repeated for the entire 15min.
🔨 – Hard Hitting 5-3-2
I chose a sledge hammer and a tyre for this when I did it.
First round was 5min of solid hitting
Rest 3min
Second round was 3min of solid hitting
Rest 2min
Last round was 2min of solid hitting
Doesn’t have to be the above, this also works well for punch bag work, skipping sprints, continuous kettlebell swings, continuous squats, loaded carries, crawling and much more.
💪 – Hypertrophy Hell 7-5-3
Similar to the above, just with different timings and no rest, plus this is about creating as much constant tension as possible in classic lifting movements.
A1 – RDL x7min
B1 – Dips x5min
C1 – Seated Row x3min
The reps can vary, I personally found that focusing on a tempo of 6-0-X-0 or 4-0-2-0 was great and kept completing reps until I needed to take a brief rest, then carried on.
This isn’t about max loads, the RDL I had something light like 80kg (straps too), it was all about creating the tension, the metabolic stress and ensuring once the timer rung out the end of the round (I’d set it 5 seconds before the actual time – so 6:55, 4:55 etc) to allow me to safely put the weight down/stop and move straight onto the next movement.
A second session like this I did was as follows:
A1 – Squat x7min
B1 – Pull Ups x5min
C1 – Press Ups x3min
🦎 – The Lizard Life
A brutally simple & effective 15min of moving like a lizard, as the name suggests.
This was all about improving mobility, active flexibility and yielding results in a different way.
You see too many people get obsessed with training needed to leave them feeling destroyed, and it’s just not sensible because it will stall results/progress.
Admittedly I’m personally bias towards results, not everyone shares that view, and this is cool and one reason we must choose our clients wisely.
There you have it, 15min is more than enough time to build some impressive overall fitness (GPP).
All you need to do is focus on putting in the effort because sometimes, often times, doing less better trumps doing more poorly.

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20 rep sets are not fun, yet they are.

It’s very much a mental battle for a lot of people to get through.

There are ways you can break down the reps.


You get the idea, with this style or breakdown and what can be considered a rest-pause set.

This may allow for longer overall progression based on the ‘top set’ (the one with the highest reps), where as simply doing straight sets of 20 the limit will be your 20RM – around 60% 1RM.

A downside to this though is that people will rest too long.

While rest is vital, when it goes past a certain point it can change the training stimulus, or perhaps even render it null & void.

Here is an example of how the rest may work:

5 – rest 10 seconds
10 – rest 10 second
5 – rest 60 seconds, onto next set.

So you’re not going off to fill water, or chat and really rest, you’e simply putting down the weight for a second, shaking out the nasties that have accumulated and then hitting the next set.

Another example:

10 – rest 15 seconds
10 – rest 60 second, onto next set.

To make this style of work even more effective, for say hypertrophy/strength you can play with the TUT like this:

Reps 5-10-5 (you can use one TUT of all of one for each)

5 reps at 4-0-X-0 (or all reps at this)
10 reps at 6-0-X-0
5 reps at 2-0-X-0

All ways to make training super effective.

In regards to keeping this, a 3 week period before change is good (for various neurological/nervous system reasons).

When the there week point hits you can change the reps, the movement, the TUT, the loading, honestly there is a lot of variation, however here is an example:

Week 1 –

Movement: Front Squat
Reps: 5-10-5
Tempo: 4-0-X-0 (all reps/sets)
Load: 80kg

Week 2 –

Movement: Front Squat
Reps: 5-10-5
Tempo: 6-0-X-0 (all reps/sets)
Load: 80kg

Week 3 –

Movement: Front Squat
Reps: 5-10-5
Tempo: 8-0-X-0 (all reps/sets)
Load: 80kg

End of micro-cycle, change of either movement or minor variable.

There is honestly an endless amounts of things you can do, all will be potentially beneficial to you hitting your goal and as such the above is just something to consider in apply 20rep work – ideal for home training.


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Is it possible to constantly change your training & progress?

Well yes, and actually no.

You may have heard of Conjugate Training/Periodisation.

Or Concurrent, Cybernetic are also other terms for something similar.

Here is a great article by Elite FTS – https://www.elitefts.com/…/16-week-conjugate-periodization…/

Read that for some truly epic detail, here is the short version of what it is:

You frequency (every 1-3 weeks) change the lift you’re doing to help with continued novel stimulus to achieve progressive overload.

However, what you’ll find is that the way this is applied in the gym or lifting is that of keeping the movement pattern the same and simply tweaking the variation of that pattern for the desired need.

As opposed to changing the movement itself to something completely different, this is where people go wrong.

You see conjugate training tends to work well on those who are very strong, very experienced or following a very good coach.

Most who try to do it on their of fail miserably, not all mind you, just most.

The idea that WSBB used was to hit a movement for two weeks, the first was to set a new PR and the second was to break it, then they’d not go back to that potential variation for, well, perhaps ever.

This philosophy aligns with the Russian quote I’ve mentioned many times over – “The same yet different.”

As an example if we look at the hinge as the main movement pattern, we can now look at all the variable you can tweak.

The word variables is the one to note because most people will merely look for exercises can come up short quickly, one because they don’t really know what they’re doing and two because they’re too lazy to do any detailed research.

Okay, the variables you can manipulate in the hinge:

– Stance
– Balance
– Speed
– Grip
– Angle of Pull
– Accommodating Resistance
– Kit Utilised

You can see where this is going. There are endless options of variables you can tweak on say a conventional deadlift, let along going into partials, deficits, sumo and all the other great choices to play with.

One simple idea behind conjugate is that you’re always hitting a PB, and often working in a 2-3week wave because the nervous system has usually had enough at 3 weeks of max output work, which is why then selecting a different variation of the movement that will help build on the main lift (main lift because conjugate is used in powerlifting most often) the total absolute load handled will wave up and down – to avoid crashing.

Honestly it’s a great method for gaining multi-skill growth, however it’s not easy to apply unless you’ve got a deep understanding of it.

Take a look at the article above, go buy the West Side Barbell (WSBB) books, read all you can and gain understanding because without it any attempt to apply it will just leave you frustrated and potentially hurt.

Also dig in to concurrent training as well, as this is the method used by multi-sport athletes (think heptathlon, decathlon etc).




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All the best ideas come at night

While staring up at the ceiling last night this little protocol came to me.
It’s nothing spectacular, however it is a nice framework.
3min work > 90sec rest > repeat 10 times
This would provide a 45min total bout of work.
While easy on paper it’d easily build up.
Alternating two movements will work well, that way you can give a decent effort each work set of 3min to the specific movements as you’d have four and a half minutes rest between each.
True enough you can also use one movement, just be warned as that gets hard rather quickly.
Say one movement is your chosen poison, the best way to apply the above would be to have multiple loads you alternate between.
Kettlebell Swing: 24kg, 32kg, 40kg & 48kg bells.
Each set you’d use a different load, not repeating the same load two sets in a row.
Perhaps you wish to use other movements, I’d suggest these:
Push: KB Jerk, Push Press, Dip, Press Ups
Pull: Rope Climb, Inverted Row, Pull Ups, DB Row
Squat: Back SQ, Lunge, Zercher, Sandbag
Hinge: Swing, RDL, Hamstring Curl, Pull Through
Loaded Carry: Bear Hug, Sled Push/Pull, Famers Walk
Movement: Flows*
The above would include the warm up sets as well.
You’d start your timer off and do some simple mobility/movement drills to RAMP for 90 seconds (basically doing the rest first), plus you can set up whatever it is you’re doing in this time as well.
Then at your first 3min round you start.
Alternatively you can go strait in at 3min and do a ‘light rounds’ or two, then use the last 90seconds rest before 45min time is up to do some cool down bits.
In the rest periods of the 90 seconds I’d personally advise some corrective work, usually in the form of upper thoracic mobility work, gentle trigger point release (not on areas wing worked) and so on, that way you’re resting and also being productive.
You may wonder how many days per week you are looking to do this, the answer is a minimum of 3, and the maximum is up to you.
Follow this rotation and you can even do it daily with little to no issue:
– Strength
– Conditioning
– Restoration – Stretching, foam rolling etc
– Flow State (nasal breathing only, no exceptions)
Worth some investigation.

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The age old question

Them – “What is better, volume or load?”
Me – “The answer is yes.”
*face palm.
You’ll find these sorts of questions are common.
How to answer them without being didactic is where things become tricky because without more context any answer is right, or wrong, or irrelevant.
In reference to the above it was surrounding body composition, fat loss specifically.
The short answer for that is volume, however…
Volume with/that induces sufficient mechanical tension.
You see mechanical tension is the driving factor behind MUR (motor unit recruitment) and this is the important factor and why the answer from above is yes.
When it comes to high threshold motor unit recruitment (HTMUR), you can achieve this via heavy loading – 85% 1RM+ or by causing extreme fatigue in the type 1 muscle fibres and 2a’s in which they draw upon the deeper fibres/units to help them keep going.
From a hypertrophy standpoint volume and going to that point of fatigue and HTMUR with moderate loads is king, and while you’ll build strength that type of strength won’t be on the same level as that built with heavier loads to elicit the same response.
The heavier loads however will often have less hypertrophy due to the high demands on the CNS and not being able to hit potential volume requirements to trigger maximal hypertrophy.
It’s why there is no one answer or protocol that does it all.
When you look back at successful lifters and their training you’ll find the coaches alternated periods of loading, volume, and everything in-between to continually elicit HTMUR so that a continued adaptive response would be the result, hopefully.
The other benefit of alternating between all of the above is so from building muscle, to learning how to express the strength potential of said new muscle and then performing in comp.
Basically you need to have working sets in your training (be those volume or load/intensity based) that force you to go beyond where you currently are.
You see working to your current limits won’t take you to the place in which you’ll discover new ones.
A lot of people forget this.
It’s one of the main reasons a large amount stall and fail to make any further progress in training, and even life, at which pint they make up various excuses about being happy, maintaining and other such nonsense when in reality they’re just being soft and aren’t willing to truly push for more.
I know I said there is no best of both, and there isn’t even though there kind of is, ish.
From a recommendation standpoint I’d suggest the following for a blend of the two above –
(They will work for everyone, that even means you unique snowflakes out there)
– Ramp to a heavy 2,3 or 5 rep set (muscle potentiation)
– Back off sets = true working sets
– 6-20 reps per set
– 2-3 TRUE working sets (0-2 reps in reserve)
– An average loss of 1-2 reps of 2.5-5% loading per set indicate correct loading/effort in previous set
*If you feel the need for extra volume or prefer a simpler approach then take 60-80% of your top set for the day and do 50-100 reps in as few sets as possible.
Both the above, provided you lift with intent, will hit that much desired HTMUR.
Focus on doing better instead of simply doing more.

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