Tag Archives: progression

5-3-2 or 3-2-1 or maybe 1-1-1

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.

For example:

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.

Example:

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.

Ross

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You don’t need to squat heavy…

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…

http://www.exrx.net/Lists/Directory.html

^^ A great resource, they’ve got some fantasist bits on there to read, enjoy it.

Ross

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Too hard, too often.

It’s not unusual for those who love training to go a little hard at the gym leaving nothing left in the tank and while it might seem like they will make progress this way, following this route will often leave you broken and without meaningful progress.
 
It’s an easy place to fall in to.
 
Back when what would breed the training of today was originally becoming popular (1800’s) there were two main schools of though:
 
– Daily practice of heavy lifting, near done to failure
– Cycling heavy, light and medium sessions
 
Both provided solid foundations of strength and built great physiques, as such there is a lot that we can learn from these teaching.
 
When it comes to those who like to lift heavy and often, picking 1-3 movements is all you need per session (focusing on those 1-3 for an extended period of time is also advised), it’s imperative you make sure you’re stopping well short of failure, as such this will mean each set is of limited repetitions and there is multiple sets (to get in the required volume to grow), you’ll leave the session feeling strong and potentially like you could have done more, don’t do more.
 
This style of training on the nerve can be quite taxing is you start chasing fatigue instead of performance, remember, you don’t want to start feeling tried/drained, if you do that means you’ve done too much and need to stop.
 
Take a deload every 3rd or 4th week, it will keep you lifting for longer.
 
The second option suit itself to many different goals, the former is more of a strength/performance method.
 
The use of H-L-M training sessions is a great way to train because it will allow you to have one session with maximal intensity, one that focuses on recovery and the last one that allows you to put ins one well needed work on volume/reps.
 
Some in the modern age call this method DUP (daily undulating periodisation).
 
The hardest thing about cycling is the temptation to make each session super hard and that’s not the idea, the light session is designed to let fatigue dissipate, hence why having it between the heavy and medium is ideal. You can also base your volume numbers off of your heavy day, for example:
 
H – worked up to a top set of 5
L – sets of 10 to increase blood flow and practice movement
M – 80% of the top 5 on heavy day for volume work to failure
 
You’d be surprised how well this works on either full body or split styles of training. The rep options you have for this are endless depending on your goal.
 
The reason the styles of method lost some favour over the years is because they didn’t fit in with the trend of ‘more is better’, it’s worth remembering that often times more is rarely better, it’s just more.
 
If you’re a little lost in your training give one of these a try, you’ll find not going for broke each session will not only keep you lifting longer but also give you focus and much needed progress.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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How to make progress: Part 4 – SRA (stimulus-recovery-adaptation)

Morning all,
 
We’re covered the first there parts – Specificity, Overload & Fatigue Management, it’s now time to look at who training sessions would ebb and flow to cause the necessary metabolic/hormonal disruption needed to elicit a response.
 
This will be linked to both the SAID & GAS models.
 
More on those here if you haven’t heard of them before –
 
 
 
So what does this mean?
 
It’s the training process.
 
You stress the body in your session via overload and correct intensity parameters so that you can train as hard as possible in as many sessions as possible, meaning you’re going to be towards the top end of your maximum recoverable volume.
 
If you’re pushing the envelope correctly, you will eventually need to deload the intensity/volume for perhaps a session or multiple sessions, this lower period of intensity will allow you to recover and achieve a small adaptation that adds to the overall progression you’re aiming for.
 
Now depending on your goal, how strong you are and the lifts you’re doing, each different lift or session will create more or less fatigue/stress, meaning a specific lift may need more time to recover than others which will effect overall frequency, heres an example:
 
– Heavy deadlifts 8×3 trained every 10 days
– Heavy squats 8×3 trained every 7 days
– Heavy presses 8×3 trained every 5 days
 
This would mean that the sessions in-between these ones might look like this:
 
– Medium deadlift accessory lifts 5×5 trained every 7 days
– Medium squats 5×5 trained every 5 days
– Medium presses 5×5 trained every 3 days
 
You can also then look at light sessions:
 
– Light deadlift accessory lifts 5×5 trained every 5 days
– Light squats 5×5 trained every 3 days
– Light presses 5×5 trained every other day
 
^^ These are only examples, but you get the idea.
 
What is happening is the cycling of loading parameters to allow for the highest amount of volume/intensity and frequency possible to keep your lifts progressing. As mentioned, this will differ depending on the lift, strength of the lifter, how many days they can train etc.
 
I can’t tell you what frequency you need, I can only give you this information so that you can apply it to your own training and see what best suits you and your goal.
 
This principle is something I’ve written about before, you might also have seen it written as Heavy-Light-Medium training.
 
Heavy = training on the nerve
Medium = the majority of your training
Light = helps accumulated fatigue dissipate to allow training/progress to continue
 
If you train three days per week you might hit full body each session and follow H-L-M to and find that is the best balance for you. That said, you might also find that instead of there being a weekly L session you might only need one or two of those every three weeks, meaning your days might look like this: H-M-M-L-H-L-M-M-M and so on.
 
If you need a technical term of where this falls in it would be the meso/microcycles of your training program.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Level Up

What level of training are you currently at?
 
Beginner
Intermediate
Advanced
 
Or more importantly, which one do you see your self falling in to because there are a lot who try to take on routines that are above their capability to sustain and recover from.
 
We’ve all been guilty of trying to punch above out weight at some point and while it can be sustained for a brief period it’s never too long before the wheels fall off the wagon and things start to go wrong.
 
Here are some common mistakes encountered:
 
– A large increase in volume
– Higher levels of intensity
– More frequency
– Inappropriate specificity
– Variable training density progression
 
The thought process of the many is that ‘more is better’ when in fact it’s just more, better is better and that usually means progression and individual specificity.
 
When it comes to establishing what level of training you’re actually at that is where things get a little tricky because it will depend on what you’re training for.
 
Most of the time it’s said that anyone who’s trained less than 2 years is a beginner, 3-5 is an intermediate and more than this is advanced, however I feel that is a very flawed approach because unless progression has been achieved in each year then you could get someone who has been ‘training’ for 10 years and still fall in to the realms of a beginner.
 
To determine where you sit you’ll want to look at these elements:
 
– Strength levels in compound movements
– VO2 Max
– Skills
– Progress achieved
 
You might be advanced in some, beginner in others, it happens. The ones you want to access unwell be those that are specifically suited to helping you achieve your goal.
 
Let’s take bodybuilding as the example and see what makes and advanced practitioner.
 
Have you achieved the following:
 
– A notable increase in lean body mass (20+ lbs from starting)
– Visible abs and residual muscle definition all year round
– Aesthetic change to your body
– High level of muscular control (feeling each of the muscles working when training them)
– Optimally proportioned symmetry, no chicken legs.
– Basically you look jacked an tan
 
If you’ve got all of those then the chances are you’re someone who would be considered advanced, at the very least a high level intermediate.
 
The style of training that would come along with this may fall in to the realms of high volume, moderate intensity with a body training split for higher frequency. Then you’d have the nutrition which would allow full recovery and progress.
 
If a beginner tried to jump on this they’d fail to make progress simply because it would be to much for their underdeveloped body to take on.
 
Make sense?
 
Take a look at your training and honestly assess your ability because you might be doing a routine that is simply too advanced for you and that’s why you’re struggling to make progress.
 
I say this because I’ve been there, don’t make that same mistake.
 
Earn your stripes, have a coach who will help you level up and don’t be in a rush to become advanced just to please your ego.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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How nutrition is a lot like moving house.

A simple analogy for nutrition that will change the way you think.
 
If you’re driving to a certain destination for let’s say a permanent house move, you know, moving from a 2 bed semi to a 3 bed detached, how do you get there?
 
Easy, by planning a route and continuing to drive towards said destination.
 
If you stop, you don’t get any closer to it.
 
If you turn around and go back to your previous one (the 3 bed semi) you have gone backwards to where you were before in stead of going to your new home (3 bed detached), obviously, which seems silly, doesn’t it.
 
Now apply that to nutrition.
 
You pick a goal.
You move towards your goal by making small sustainable lifestyle.
If you stop making the changes you stop processing.
If you go back to old habits you end up back where you started.
 
^^ How is this hard for people to understand?
 
If you want lasting results you need to make a lasting change.
 
Much like moving home, you don’t upgrade a house and then go back to living in your old one, you change, yet it seems many people think nutrition is an exception to this rule. They make a change, get results and then expect to keep that change by eating as they used to (excessively).
 
Madness.
 
Give the analogy some thought.
 
Do you want to move forwards or stay where you are, because once you go forwards there are then only three options after that.
 
1 – Keep moving forwards, on to a 4 bed (optimal)
2 – Stay where you are because you’re happy, in your 3 bed
3 – Go backwards, returning to your 2 bed semi
 
Your choice.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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2 Things you can learn from the selfie crew at your gym.

If you were to look around your gym in your rest periods, what would you see or rather how many people would you see taking selfies?
 
Probably quite a few now because that is how the modern gym snowflake rolls. After all, it is important that they get their daily likes on the gram otherwise they’ve not achieved anything and the insatiable need for gratification will go unquenched, this can’t be allowed to happen.
 
While the endless selfies and gym videos might annoy you there is actually something you can learn from this and even apply to your own regime to help you in your route to achieving your goals.
 
Here are the two things you can learn from the selfie crowd:
 
1 – Taking videos is a great way to check your form and sharing in groups for feedback and tips to improve the quality of your lifting.
 
2 – Photos are excellent in tracking your overall progression, just don’t post every single one of them.
 
Bonus – The culmination of videos, process picture and selfies can actually serve are a great reminder of who far you have come in your journey, how much you have achieved and why you must be proud of all your effort, hard work and achievements.
 
From a business standpoint it can also help bring in clients and inspire other people who are perhaps starting where you did to stay the course because they will be there in the end.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Neglected??

Morning Guys,
 
Have you stalled on a lift or a CV element?
 
A lot of people get caught in trying to bring up one lift or specific elements of their CV training only to neglect the bigger picture, which ultimately stalls their  overall progress.
 
If we took Bench Press for example, it will only go so far if that is all you train, perhaps your close grip bench/Incline/Overhead are all dramatically weak and you avoid them because they hurt your ego. This is a problem, taking a hit to the ego and brining up those three will have some carryover to the BP.
 
This can also happen when it comes to training CV elements.
You enjoy running and want to get faster but you find you just can’t break a certain time or increase your VO2 Max, usually because you’ve now become incredibly efficient at your chosen task (this is great, however it also means you need some spice added). To change things up you might add in a 2K sprint row which leaves you breathless because you’re not adapted to it, yet 🙂 however that means you can now start progressing again.
 
In short, hitting weaker lifts, or unfamiliar CV protocols/equipment will help you in the long run, it’s worth the ego sacrifice to gain that extra strength or lung capacity.
 
Neglecting your weaker elements of training in favour of the ones that boost your ego will eventually lead you to stagnation. While it’s understandable that no one wants to look like they are struggling it’s far worse to be known as that person who trains all the time and does’t look and different than they did, or is the one who is not any stronger or fitter than they were last year. I’m sure you all know someone who fits that bill and if you don’t… It might be you.
 
It’s okay to have weak areas because they mean you can improve and keep progressing.
 
Embrace your weakness and make it a strength.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Only a Fraction.

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.

For example:

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…

Enjoy,

Ross

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