Tag Archives: progression
Morning Ladies & Gents,
Sayings such as;
“Train insane or remain the same”
“Pain is just weakness leaving the body”
“You must confuse the body by changing it up every week”
and so on.
While these sayings have a place, they often cause people to overcomplicate things.
When it comes to training there are many opposing views and ironically they are all right because they all work but it can become very confusing. The longer I’ve been training the more inclined to the mantra of ‘less is more’ because there comes a point where you can’t keep adding large amounts of volume/intensity, it just becomes too much to handle. The result is improper recovery and a distinct lack of progress, we seem o forget that rest/recovery is the secret to making some gains, the whole ‘S.A.I.D & G.A.S*’ are often forgotten. That said, a good bit of advice for the majority of people is to try training 2-3xP/W (2-3 big lifts and 2-3 accessory movements hitting all major muscle groups/movements) while keeping a keen focus on adding a tiny amount of weight (as in half a kilo or less), just something to keep in mind.
I’m sure plenty of you know about the following types of set/rep progression:
– Single: Adding weight = 5×12
– Double: Adding reps, then weight = 5×8-12
– Triple: Adding reps, then sets, then weight 3-5×8-12
The use of fractional plates with these styles of progression is a recipe for continued progress. This is a nice simple structure that doesn’t involve in-depth knowledge of Periodisation, Concurrent Programming etc. All you need is some basic movements that you wish to progress on (If training 3xP/W I would create two workouts A/B that contain variations of the lifts and alternate them to avoid boredom but still generate the desired training effect for each muscle group), then stick with them for an extended amount of time and make slow and steady progress by moving through the set/rep progression as needed.
Press Program – 5×8 – hitting all reps and adding 0.5kg until you stall (fail to hit reps with good solid from for 2 weeks or sessions in a row), then take off 5-10% total load and start again using 5×5-8 until you once again plateau. When you hit the next road block drop the weight 5-10% and start using 3-5×5-8.
While only an example you can see the merit in this simple method.
How has your mindset for training changed over the years, how have you grown as a lifter?
*S.A.I.D – Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands – http://www.exrx.net/ExInfo/Specificity.html
*G.A.S – General Adaptation Syndrome – http://www.humankinetics.com/…/understand-the-general-princ…
I’ve written bout RPE before, however I was asked by a member of a gym I visit for some training ideas on this style so I thought I would share them here for all to potentially use. Below will be some useful likes to learn more about RPE.
Rate of Perceived Exertion is a scale of measuring intensity, with it you can program the load for your workout based on how you’re performing on the day, this allows for natural back off’s and peaks according to your bodies own biofeedback.
Be it a 1RM or a 10RM, this guide applies to all (Str = Strength Focus, HYP = Hypertrophy Focus) –
10: Maximum effort. No reps left in the tank. – STR
9: Last rep is tough, but could have done one more rep. – STR
8: weight is too heavy to maintain fast bar speed, but is not a struggle. 2-4 reps left. – HYP
7: Weight moves quickly when maximal force is applied. “Speed Weight”. – HYP
6: Light speed work. Bar speed was fast with only moderate effort
5: Most Warm Up Weights
4: Recovery. Usually 20+ reps sets. Not hard, but intended to flush the muscle.
Now for the methods which will all be based off of achieving a daily max with a 9 RPE (use can use RPE 10,8,7 or what ever you need, this is merely a few example of how to use this method):
1 – Daily Max to 9RPE
Pick an exercise and work up to your desired RPE for your chosen Rep Max, once you hit both you call it a day and move on to your accessory work.
2 – Daily Max to 9RPE with Back Off Set Repeats
Let’s say it’s a squat day. You go in and decide on working up to a 5RM at RPE 9 (one rep left in the bag), once you hit that number you make a note of the weight used and drop the weight, from here you stick on this weight and do 5’s until that weight feels like an RPE 9. A great way of working strength while also getting in volume. Simple.
*How much you drop is up to you, the larger the drop the more fatigue/mechanical stress you will accumulate.
3 – Daily Max to 9RPE with Weight Drop & Reloads
As with the example above you work up to a Rep Max, it can be any of your choosing or programmed in using a DUP (daily undulating periodisation method – I will write about this at the end). Work up to your desired RM, say 3 for RPE 9. From here you reduce the weight and then start reloading the bar and try to hit the same weight for the same RPE again, if you did this correctly you might be abel to repeat this process 2-3 times, depending on how much weight you reduce, if/when you don’t make the top weight then that’s when you call it a day.
If you decide to use a DUP method for the RM’s you might have something that looks like this:
Day 1 – 3RM – RPE 9
Day 2 – 7RM – RPE 9
Day 3 – 5RM – RPE 9
You could also have the same RM but different RPE’s:
Day 1 – 5RM – RPE 10
Day 2 – 5RM – RPE 6
Day 3 – 5RM – RPE 8
The options are almost endless. All you have to do is look at try the examples above to start to find your flow, once that is done you will be abel to adapt the method to your own needs.
The humble super set. It comes in many forms, typically the most common ones are
Making progress is something everyone aims to do, today I am going to list the most common reasons why you’re NOT progressing and have become stuck at a certain level.
Some of these answers may surprise you.
1 – No Overload
Essentially you’re not training hard enough to prompt a stimulus that will require and adaptive response (SAID, GAS principles, look them up). You need to be creating as much time under maximal tension as possible to elicit a noteworthy response from your body/nervous system.
Try 10×3 at 80% 1RM followed by 70% 1RM for one all out set to failure.
2 – Too Much Overload
You’re training too hard.
Yep, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum to the point above this is common for people who are working out for hours at a time, often doing a gym session and then possibly cardio and back to back gym classes (or something like that). This can take you past the stage of Overreaching, which is needed to create the stimulus required for super compensation to take place, and put you in to a perpetual state of “I must survive” meaning you won’t adapt, merely just make it through.
You may also not be having enough rest days (2-3 per week is good for average folk).
Training too much can easily be avoided by planning in deloads every 3rd or 4th week, or at the bare minimum you will want a reduction in volume, so something like this:
Week 1 – 10x3x80%
Week 2 – 10x4x80%
Week 3 – 10x5x80%
Week 4 – 5x3x original 80%
Week 5 – 10x3x80%+5lbs and so on.
3 – Under Eating
This is exactly as it sounds. You’re not eating enough calories to recover/build muscle and sustain your activity levels. You might be eating in balance with your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) or possibly be in a deficit (under what you need each day), both of these will contribute to a lack of progress.
To establish a baseline guide for calories take your weight in Lbs and multiply it by 17-19 for a quick daily calories number. If you want to be more technical use the Harris-Benedict formula, link here:
There is also the question of macros, you can find that info here:
4 – No Rest Days
Rest days can seem like a pain to the hard core gym goer but they are essential for recovery and building/repairing tissues and progressing.
Optimal training frequency per muscle group is 3-5 days, this can be found in both peer reviewed studies and also through anecdotal evidence from some of the worlds best lifters, you are free to do your own digging on this. Start here and look at the studies referenced:
5 – No Tracking
All of the above are some of the reasons people don’t progress, from my experience they are the most common (other reasons can be hormonal, stress related etc but this will require blood tests to establish), however if you don’t track what you’re doing, what you’re eating and how you’re actually progressing you won’t really have any idea of what is going wrong. It’s like pissing in to the wind.
Go to a local shop and buy a diary, they are around £1-3 and will dramatically improve your training and your progress.
Time to stop slacking, start progressing and take things to the next level.
Are you coasting when you’re in the gym?
Do you pick up the same weights and do the same reps/sets as you’ve done for the last who knows how long?
Do you still do 2-3 gym classes back to back with minimal effort and reward yourself with some calorific sturdbucks drink afterwards because ‘you deserve it because you just did 2-3 classes back to back’?
If this sounds like you then it’s time for a healthy does of reality.
Coasting along in the gym is not healthy.Not just physically but also mentally too. You will get stuck in a rut and eventually end up going backwards because your body will have become so efficient at doing the same things you always do that your overall energy expenditure will drop but I’m positive that you won’t adjust your calories to accommodate for this, meaning inevitable muscle loss and fat gain.
Harsh but something that you can see in literally every commercial gym. Don’t be one of these people.
Going to the gym shouldn’t be an all out struggle each session, but you should have at least one hard and one medium session per week with a light session to allow recovery but still keep your body/mind in the right place. This doesn’t mean to say you use baby weights on the right session, it simply means adjusting the volume/intensity (I wrote about this a few days ago, check it out). Here is a nice little option for H-L-M days:
- Medium – 8x3x80-85%
- Light – 5x5x75-80%
- Heavy – 6-10x2x85-90%
Easy to rotate this, all it takes is some planning. Simply sit down and establish what this correlates to for each of your workout days (Pull, Push, Legs for example) and you will have a training program that looks like this:
- Pull – Medium
- Push – Light
- Legs – Heavy
- Pull – Light
- Push – Heavy
- Legs – Medium
- Pull – Heavy
- Push – Medium
- Legs – Light
- Off – Then the cycle starts again.
This is a simple 3 days on 1 day off. You don’t have to follow that, you could do 3 workouts a week and that would give you a three week cycle instead of a two week one. You can arrange the days however bas too suit you – keep in mind that from various research that the optimal training frequency for each movement/muscle group is every 3-5days and the optimal amount of sets is 10-20 (tops) with an average load of 80%.
Take some time and look at what you’re currently doing in the gym and ask yourself these questions:
Does it challenge me?
Does it make me want more?
Does it scare me slightly?
If the answers are NO then you need to take a week off and get your head together, pick a solid goal, return with a plan and knuckle down. As the old saying goes:
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”