When it comes to weight training, there is an order of importance that should be adhered to when planning out your program.
This is taken from Eric Helms’ Muscle and Strength Pyramid book.
This is an excellent resource on planning your training in a way that is going to help you to get the best out of your program.
“Fail to plan, you plan to fail”.
While it may sound strange and you may not have heard the word before, Periodization is one of the most important parts of your training program.
Periodization is the organisation of training and setting specific goals.
It is how you will organise and manipulate your training and all the other variables below, over time to get the best results for your goal.
When someone starts to look to either get in shape or to get stronger, they will usually start to look for the ‘best’ program, to help them to reach their goals.
However, if your program is completely unrealistic and doesn’t fit your current schedule or lifestyle, the chances of you sticking to it and getting results from it are going to be minimal.
If you can only train 3 days per week, there is no point following a 6 day per week program, because you heard it was the best one.
Your program must suit your level of fitness and allow you to reach your goal, while fitting in with your life.
VOLUME – INTENSITY – FREQUENCY
The 3 most important parts of writing a program.
Volume is the amount of work being done. Too much and you won’t recover. Too little and you won’t have enough stimulus for growth. How much is too much, or too little? This all depends on your experience and your time and ability to recover. These are very individual.
Intensity is the weight on the bar (% 1rm) If you are low volume, your intensity can be higher. This would be your strength work, so think of something like, 5 reps at 80% of your 1 rep max.
If you are high volume, your intensity should be lower. This would be your Hypertrophy work, or muscle building and would be more like 10 reps at 65% of your 1 rep max.
Overall it would look something like this;
Light Load (high volume) – 60-75% 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps
Moderate Load – 55%-70% 4-8 sets 2-4 reps
Heavy Load – 80-95% – 4-6 sets of 1-4 reps
Frequency is how often you train a muscle group per week.
The old way of training, where you would train a body part once per week is very outdated and not the most efficent way to train.
Everything is showing us that if your train a muscle more frequently (2-3 times per week), you will get better results.
This is because you are spreading the total volume (work) over 2-3 days, so you will be stronger in your sessions, with less fatigue on that particular muscle group.
To keep getting bigger or stronger, you MUST increase the training stimulus. This is called the “Principle of Progressive Overload” You cannot go into the gym and do the same training, using the same weights and expect to get the same results.
You must look for some sort of progress in your training. This isn’t to say that you need to go from 90kg to 100kg the following week, it simply means that you must have some progress.
If you lifted 80kg for 3 sets of 8 reps on week 1. Lifting 82.5kg for 3 sets of 8 reps on week 2 is progress.
If you lifted 80kg for 3 sets of 8 reps on week 1. Lifting 80kg for 3 sets of 10 reps on week 2 is progress.
If you lifted 80kg for 3 sets of 8 reps on week 1. Lifting 80kg for 4 sets of 8 reps on week 2 is progress.
Exercise selection for strength athletes is important as they need to train certain lifts to compete. For body composition, it is less Important and a wide variety can be used.
Again, you shouldn’t be using a large variety of exercises each session or each week, to get some, ‘muscle confusion’.
This is a myth and your focus should always be on improving your lifts, technique and progress. You could change your exercises every 84-8 weeks if you wanted to stave off boredom. But if your goal is strength, you cannot escape the squat, bench press or deadlift.
Again, for strength athletes, rest PERIODS are important for recovery between lifts. You will be looking at anything from 2-10+ minutes, depending on where you are in your training. For body composition, new research is questioning the old thought that shorter rest periods (30-90 seconds) are better.
A longer rest period (120 – 180 seconds), can keep the training quality higher and allow for higher overall training volume.
Tempo is the speed of the lift.
A few years back TEMPO became hugely popular and this lead to long and elaborate tempos being used in training. (4121, 3011), 4121)
Time under tension was thought to be critical to muscle growth, but with overall volume and intensity ranking higher in importance, TEMPO could reduce these and isn’t as crucial as once though.
It is still important, but if you are actively controlling the weight throughout each lift, you will be fine.
This might seem a bit confusing at first, but I’ll explain how to put together a program next week and show how these factors can be used.
If you have any questions on this, drop me a message over on my Rushe Fitness page through the link below.
* Emmet is the owner and operator of Rushe Fitness LTD