Walkouts, Partial Reps, Banded Moments, Movements with Chains, Lockout Reps, Board Pressing, the list of specialist exercises is numerous but do you really need them?
Tag Archives: Training age
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.
Everyone is looking for the magic set/rep range, with the ideal tempo to stimulate the mTOR pathway and the ability to add 5% strength each session.
Building is the aim, but with all the set and rep ranges out there which one should you use?
There was the famous 6×6 & 8×8 that was used by Vince Gironda
Or the hugely successful 7-5-3 Wave Loading System found under the tutelage of Charles Poliquin
You even heard stories of how well people did on Dorian Yates’ ‘Blood & Guts One Set to Faliure’
Some even did phenomenally well on the very simple 4×8-12
But the truth is that all of the systems work, lets be honest and accept that if they didn’t work they wouldn’t be spoken about.
The hardest part isn’t finding a set/rep scheme that works, it’s finding one YOU can stick with for the long haul, in our society of quick fixes and instant gratification we want to add 30lbs of lean muscles, drop 50lbs of body fat and look akin to a Greek God all by last week.
Sadly life doesn’t work that way. If you want to build some decent lean muscle you will need to be prepared to put in the hard work, eat adequately and have everything pretty much on point. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a life but you must understand that the more effort you put in and the more sacrifice you’re willing to make the faster and less time you will need you will achieve your results (which could still be in the years in most cases).
Now the obvious points are out of the way it’s time to give you some options to help you on your way to a better you.
The rotation of set/rep schemes will be set using a 3 days on 1 day off rotation until you have done the particular set/rep scheme 4/5 times (this will last mean each set/rep system will last around 3 weeks or so) with a total of 4 different rep/set options to go though. The main exercises will stay the same for all 4 mini blocks, as for assistance work you can add in some DT (Density Training) that should take no more than 10min and the chosen assistance movements can change every 3/4 workouts if you feel the need, but remember a change is only needed if you have become stagnant on that particular exercise.
Parameters for the mains lifts:
First 5 Workouts (weeks 1-3):
Loading % of 1RM: 70%,75%,80%,60%
Tempo: 6-1-1-1 and 2-1-1-1 for the 20 rep set
Rest: 90 Seconds
Second 5 Workouts (weeks 4-6)
Loading % of 1RM: 75-80%
Rest: 30 Seconds
Third 5 Workouts (weeks 7-9)
Loading % of 1RM: 80-85%
Rest: 90-120 Seconds
Forth 5 Workouts (weeks 10-12)
Loading % of 1RM: 82,85,87,90,92%
Rest: 120 Seconds or as needed
The main lifts will be comprised of the following:
– Squat (Front or Back)
– Bench Press (Incline of Flat)
– Deadlift (Overhand only)
– Bent Over Row (Supinated Grip)
– Press (Military or Behind Neck)
– Pull Up (Weighted or Body Weight)
Now it’s time for the interesting part, the workouts themselves.
Based on 3 working days you will only be required to do 2 movements per workout, plus 1-2 assistance movements if you feel the need.
A1 – Squat
B1 – Pull Up
C1 – Dumbbell Curl (5-10min on timer, do as many reps as possible in the time limit)
A1 – Bench Press
B1 – Bent Over Row
C1 – Skull Crusher (5-10min on timer, do as many reps as possible in the time limit)
A1 – Deadlift
B1 – Press
C1 – Lateral Raise – Do one set of C1 followed by C2, minimal rest between transitions.
C2 – Face Pull or Reverse Fly (5-10min on timer, do as many reps as possible in the time limit)
Day 4: Off
The above is a very simple progression that will help you build some quality lean muscle tissue while keeping things fresh and interesting. as I mentioned above you can change your assistance exercises as you see fit but try to keep the main movements the same as this will help with the accumulation f overload stimulus.
One benefit of these workouts is that they won’t take long to complete, perhaps 40min tops meaning that you will have lots more free time to spend with friends and family, eat lots of good foods and because the workouts are so short you will look forward to your next one, unlike some other extreme training programs that kill your motivation to train.
You will also need to make sure you’re eating enough, if you want my opinion on how to make a educated guess then do the following:
LBM (Lean Body Mass) x 17-19 = Daily Calories
LBM x 1-1.2 = Protein in Grams for the day x4 = calories from protein.
Protein x 1.5-3 = Carbs for the day (1 if you’re a desk jockey. Use 2 if you’re somewhat active at work and 3 if you’re job is very physical) x4 = Calories from carbohydrates.
Daily Calories – (Protein Calories + Carb Calories) = Calories of Fat per day, divide this number by 9 to get your daily grams of fat.
Now go and make some progress.
I was asked a very interesting question recently:
“Can you train heavy all the time?”
The person who asked the question defined heavy as 85%+, closer to 90% of 1RM truth be told.
Now considering all the varying factors that need to be taken in to account – Training Age, Recovery Ability, Nutrition, Stress Load, Sleep, External Influences to name a few. The answer is not a simple one, that said I will give you my opinion and my own personal answer to this question which has been gathered from my experience.
Yes. Yes you can.
To train at higher intensities more frequently you need to have everything else in your life on point (nutrition, stress, recovery etc etc) and have a minimum training age/experience of at least 5 years.
Why 5 years? Because by that time you will have made all the novice mistakes (hopefully) and built a solid foundation of strength, skill and movement patterns, not to mention you would actually have a very good idea of what your 1RM’s would actually be. If these are present then you could quite possibly train at 85% or even 90%+ frequently.
Now I believe it was the great Louis Simmons who said if you train at 90% for longer than three weeks you will in fact go backwards in your training, and I have to agree with him…
I know, curious isn’t it.
Given my last statement how can I say ‘yes’ to being able to train at 90% frequently then? Because what Louis Simmons was referring to was staying at 90% for one specific exercise for more than three weeks, this is where you would run in to problems, mainly due to CNS/overall fatigue in that one movement. However if you were to use movements that targeted similar muscle groups/movement patters but required a different total loading then this is how you could train at 85-90% of more for extended periods of time.
Are you following me?
For example you can Squat for lets say 2 weeks (possible 3 if you’re so inclined) then change this to perhaps a box squat, then a front squat after that and maybe an overhead squat next.
Can you see what’s happening? You’re loads int he other lifts won’t be as heavy as in the standard squat, meaning your nervous system won’t be taxed as heavily but you will still be working in a maximal strength range for each lift. In doing this you will also generate some good crossover to your other lifts (crossover helping the main lifting movement improve).
Weeks 1-3 – Squat
Weeks 4-6 – Front Squat
Weeks 7-9 – Overhead Squat
Weeks 10-12 – Box Squat
This style of training will require you to make copious notes and track your numbers, but it also helps produce some great results.
When it comes to loading parameters I would suggest using the following as guide lines:
Training Days – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
– 85,87,90% 1RM – 3-6 sets 1-3 reps
– 87,90,92% 1RM – 2-5 sets 1-3 reps
– 90,92,95% 1RM* – 1-4 sets 1-3 reps
This way if you were cycling though 6 exercises you would use the first suggesting on all 6 then when the next time round comes you can use the second, if you don’t fancy testing a new 1-3RM that is to establish a new baseline for the 85-90%.
*The last suggestion would only be advised for people who compete or are very experienced, personally I would steer people towards the first guideline.
All in all this style of training is based around 2-3week mini cycles that have constantly changing exercises, the same is true for your accessory work which can be focused on your weaker areas and done for more bodybuilding style reps/sets. What I have given you is simply an example of intensity %, sets/reps, training days and exercise ordering, you can change/adapt this as you see fit.
One thing to remember about working at higher intensities more frequently is that you need to keep the volume per session on the low end, if you set this to high you’re in for trouble.
As you can see there is certainly a possibility of being able to work at 85% and above consistently, but you will need to make sure you have a solid plan of action when doing it.
You’re not training hard enough.
No, you’re not.
If you were then you wouldn’t be looking of rate next best program, you would be slowly and steadily making progress.
I have noticed that lots of people seem to be training much LONGER but not HARDER.
While this is only my opinion and lots will disagree, if you spend more than 45-75min in the gym then you’re not working hard enough, period.
In my opinion if you can train ‘hard’ for longer than that then you’re not training hard enough or you’re on some form of PED (steroid) because there are very few exceptions to this rule.
Why between those times?
Depending on the length or warm up you need (some people need up to 30min with all their pre mobility etc), once you’re body feels ready you start lifting and pushing yourself.
What does hard work feel like?
How should your reps feel?
How should your breathing be when running (cardio training)?
Lets say you’re doing 6 sets of 6 reps, the first 2 sets of 6 should feel easy ish, the next two you will want to be struggling to get 6 and the last two you should only get 4, perhaps 5 reps out and those should be a struggle. This is coming close to hard work.
Alternatively you could go in with the ind set that even on your first set the 6th rep should be a fighting struggle to achieve (I like this mind set).
You shouldn’t be able to hold a conversation. Simple.
Too much chatter when CV training means you;re not working at the correct intensity, you should be abel to get out maybe 3-5 words or single sentences, but if you can talk almost normally then you need to be working harder.
This all sounds quite logical doesn’t it?
You’d be surprised at the amount of people who have ‘pseudo intensity’. What is it?
Pseudo Intensity is when people are working hard ish, but they often hold a lot back, this is why allows them to stay in the gym for upwards of 90min and sometimes even 3 hours.
There is a simple equation I like to remember, it goes like this:
Hard Work + Consistency = Results
Okay, there are some nuances to that but the general ethos is solid.
Now stop faffing about and go do some proper training!
Today it’s time to talk about technique, or more importantly your ability to preform correct technique.
There are lots of compound exercises that require certain amounts skill, but that’s not really in question that often because the average gym goer forgets one crucial element, most compound exercises also require adequate mobility to be preformed correctly.
Before I move on let us establish what mobility actually is.
Mobility, or joint mobility, is the ability to move a limb through the full range of motion with control, people often get mobility and flexibility confused.
Mobility is based on voluntary movement (squatting to full depth for example) while flexibility involves static holds (touching your toes) and is often dependent upon gravity or passive forces. Mobility demands strength to produce full-range movement, whereas flexibility is passive and not strength-dependent.
It is possible to have good mobility without being especially flexible, after all, someone who is able to perform a full overhead squat won’t necessarily be able to do the splits. Just as someone who is flexible can have poor mobility, i.e., control. Of the two, mobility is more important. It is better to be inflexible with good mobility than flexible with poor mobility.
Mobility isn’t just required for lifting weights though. having good mobility will also improve your quality of life too. In an ideal world you would wake up every morning and perform a mobility routine to help prepare your body for the trials of the day. it doesn’t have to take long, 5-10min is more than sufficient and you can do it while your breakfast is cooking.
Here is a sample routine that you can do at home and before your workouts each and everyday.
- Rocking Ankle Mobilization (walking on the inner/outer portion of your foot for 20 meters per side)
- Quadruped Crawl (bear crawl) 20 meter
- Squat with chest expansion and arm swings
- Squat hold with shoulder dislocation (sit in a deep squat and hold a towel in both hands and try to take it fro the front of your body over your head and touch your lower back)
- Spidermans (also called a low lateral lunge from side to side)
- Reverse Lunge
Bonus: Static Stretching
*Hip Flexor Stretch (rear foot elevated on sofa or chair, push hips forwards)
* Door Frame Chest Stretch (have your elbows at shoulder height and lean through an open doorway)
There are lots of mobility routines available on YouTube and other such websites, the one above is a simple suggestion, i would do some research and find one that works for you and takes less than 10min to do each day.