Tag Archives: SRA

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.

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Do You Even S-R-A?

What does SRA stand for?

Stimulus – Recovery – Adaptation

No typically this is something that is done over the course of several weeks/months and fits in with the principles of progressive overload because you will have the initial Stimulus (volume/intensity) followed by a period of recover (de-load) and then aim for some new personal records (adaptation). A simple concept but one a great many people get horribly wrong.

The common fault people come across is that they don’t follow this simple process, well, not for long anyway. Many will start out a program that lines up nicely with these principles, they will even follow them for perhaps one mini cycle (3-4 weeks) and actually make some progress. Obviously the are pleasantly surprised because it worked, which should really be a surprise considering this methodology has been around for close to 100years now, but I digress. After hitting some new PR’s in the gym they think they can continue to do this and that is where the wheels start to fall off the wagon and I’m going to tell you why.

If a person follows a program that adheres to the SRA principle they will progress, simple. They might even be able to ‘cheat’ they system and hit a few more PB’s, thus leading them to think they’ve cracked this weightlifting malarky and can’t fathom why people struggle when they themselves are making such superb gains and this is when it starts to go wrong. Trying to continuously peak is something that in the worst possible scenario will destroy most people (major injury) if they’re not careful, at best they will stagnate and maintain the level their at, but most likely they will experience regression in both strength and lean body mass because of the excessive cortisol (stress hormones) they’re being exposed too.

How can you avoid this?

Simple, you stick with the plan!

Depending on the end goal, style of your training program, you training age/experience and personal genetics there will be some discrepancies in how long you run things for in terms of Marco/Meso/Micro-Cycles but regardless of this fact following the SRA crude will help you continually progress until your program is at an end, at which point you will certainly have hit a new peak but you would also have amassed a decent level of accumulated fatigue, this is when a complete week off might be necessary at either the 3-6-9-12 month point, sometimes people might take a longer lay off but that’s down to the individual.

What might an example mini cycle that follows this rule look like?

Like this perhaps:

  • Week 1 5×5 – 70-80% of current 1RM
  • Week 2 5×5 + 20lbs Lower/10lbs Upper
  • Week 3 5×5 + 20lbs Lower/10lbs Upper
  • Week 4 3×5 – At Original Weight
  • Week 5 5RM – PR Attempt
  • Week 6 5×5 – 70-80% of calculated 1RM based on new 5RM and Repeat

You could also have something that looks like this:

  • Week 1 1×5 – Current 5RM
  • Week 2 3×5 – Current 5RM
  • Week 3 5×5 – Current 5RM
  • Week 4 1×5 – At Original Weight
  • Week 5 5RM – PR Attempt

Now those are based off of short 5/6 week cycles, you could have a longer one that would have be doing what is described as a volume/intensity wave or sorts.

  • Week 1 1×5 – 70-80% of current 1RM
  • Week 2 3×5 – 70-80% of current 1RM
  • Week 3 5×5 – 70-80% of current 1RM
  • Week 4 1×5 + 20lbs Lower/10lbs Upper
  • Week 5 3×5 – Set at weight in week 4
  • Week 6 5×5 – Set at weight in week 4
  • Week 7 1×5 + 20lbs Lower/10lbs Upper
  • Week 8 3×5 – Set at weight in week 7
  • Week 9 5×5 – Set at weight in week 7
  • Week 10 5×5 – Original Weight
  • Week 11 5RM PR Attempt

Remember these are only example of how the overall program might look,, they are not set in stone, some people use the SRA principle on a weekly basis.

  • Day 1 – Monday 5×5
  • Day 2 – Wednesday 2×5
  • Day 3 – Friday 1×5 – Build to new 5RM

The main thing to remember is that you want a period of accumulation (increasing volume/intensity) followed by a short phase that allows adaptation (de-load to all recovery) and then you attempt to realise the progress you’ve made with a new PR.

Take some time and plan out a sensible program with some logical progression, put in periods of ramping up volume/intensity followed by a slight de-load and then go for a new PR. Keep it simple and watch the progress come in waves.



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