So, I’m setting out with my blog, instagram, newsletter, facebook, and all free content to give you all that you need (and hopefully more) to not need a trainer.
You can be your own trainer. Whether you want to be is up to you, I intend to provide the option, with the knowledge and principles that would guide you professionally.
The education is what I want to interpret to you, so you don’t get lost in the vicious cycle of mindless exercise, crash diet, rinse, and repeat.
Nutrition is definitely a rabbit hole, but for many the concept can be more firmly grasped (Spongebob pun) than the idea of exercise programming, periodization, and progression.
The vast majority of exercisers will workout until they’ve hit a desired degree of fatigue, time spent training, sweat level, or failure.
It is tough to relay to people that you must take yourself out of “the now” for just a moment and focus on the bigger picture, or at least where you’re headed. That’s what trainers, coaches, and respected fitness sites are for, right?
You’re just trying to get a workout in so you feel you’re moving in the right direction.
That’s awesome, you’re ahead of the game compared to many.
But what do trainers, coaches, and all other fitness professionals have to provide to you so that your workouts continuously stimulate you for growth, progression, and long term results?
3 main things I’m going to focus on:
- Adherence to the plan.
Many people get too impatient, or bored of a program or consistent series of workouts to follow for a long enough time to see true results.
Remember the dog from Up? Squirrel!
When you’re on your phone checking your workout for the day, and see a little instagram post notification from some click-baity booty chick or “get ripped like me bro” dude and all of a sudden you’re doing a 4 minute Ass & Abs workout. And now you’ve lost buy-in to your own program, and you may even get bitter towards it! Stay the course, educate yourself on what the program is, and learn whyyyyy.
Unless you feel you’re a complete mismatch for it, stay with it and the intended results will most likely show up, allow yourself the time for it to.
We would also provide the accountability, but that can even be taken into your own hands as well. Set yourself up for success. Mention it to your friends, co-workers, classmates, family, anyone who can hold you accountable. Begin a new social media endeavor and post your progress, or aspirations to hold yourself accountable. Speak it, let it be known, and force yourself to follow through!
2. The Adaptation Principle.
What this means is your body adapts, and becomes accustomed to the training demands being placed on it.
For those who don’t change things up, they’ll likely fall into the category of not changing it up enough…or ever. This is the process of your body becoming too efficient at a particular exercise, program, intensity, volume, training style, or rep range. They don’t provide a stimulus as they used to, therefore your repeated efforts of performing the same workouts until you’ve reached that desired fatigue, or sweat level, may really just keep you maintaining at best.
A professional is expected to see this, and is able to curtail the woes associated with spinning your wheels from your current dilemma.
This could involve introducing a new stimulus by way of exercise type, volume, intensities, modalities used, training phase, or complete overhaul.
You cannot just progress forever and ever. If that were the case I would not be writing this blog right now, I would most likely be enjoying my place atop a World Record holder throne, eating grapes and being fanned with palm fronds.
Which brings me to…
3. Progressive Overload.
You must challenge yourself; you must provide a new stimulus to stress (overload) your body in order for it to see the need to adapt. This ties in with #2 of course, but I’m going to break it down a bit further.
In order for muscle growth, strength increases, performance increases, fat loss, or all of the above, the body must be forced to adapt to a tension, or degree of stress beyond what it is use to.
This is a super important concept to grasp, and it doesn’t have to be an “over your head” concept.
It’s imperative to begin to wrap your mind around this concepts.
Think of that old fella in your gym, who you can tell definitely had his heyday in a Gold’s Gym many moons ago. He’s molded that “Glory Days” workout program into one he can do 4x a week. It’s the same routine, and he’s done it now for 17 years, 4 months, and 13 days. Has he improved? Mmmm no.
Let’s take his program.
*3×10=3 sets of 10
- 3×10 Chest Press
- 3×10 Leg Press
- 3×10 Lat Pulldowns
- 3×10 Leg Curls
- 3×10 Bicep Curls
- 3×10 Tricep Extensions
Let’s say next week we give him 3×11 of everything. Now, he has something new to adapt to. Tension is increased, volume is increased, his body has more workload than it is accustomed to.
Or, let’s say we give him 3×10, BUT we increase his weights the smallest increment. Tension is increased, volume is technically increased because the weight moved is higher, so the “pounds lifted per workout” is increased.
This is progressive overload, and it can be very simple.
Alright class, let’s begin:
So, depending on where you’re at, you can integrate progressive overload simply into your workouts with:
- an increase in 1-2 reps each week
- an incremental increase in weight each week
Example for Novices:
|Exercise:||Week 1||Week2||Week 3||Week 4|
|Bench Press (vol^)||3×8@90lbs||3×9@90lbs||3×10@90lbs||4×8@90lbs|
|Bench Press (load^)||3×8@90lbs||3×8@95lbs||3×8@100lbs||3×8@95|
This would be an example of how you may progress as a novice (less than 6 months consistent training), utilizing either linear (linear being continually going up) volumes, or linear load increases. Your improvements will come fast, and you can progress from workout to workout.
In week 4 for the linear volume increases with the bench press, we drop reps, and add a set to the original rep scheme. This is a great way to keep volume up, and you can continue the progression to accumulate more volume.
In week 4 for the linear load increases, we start the progression over again with 5lbs heavier than we began. Also a great, and simple way to keep the weight progressing.
*These are all just examples, and can be paralleled to just about any exercise!
Deload- period of time (typically a training week) in which you reduce volume, and/or intensity to manage fatigue accumulation
With novices, deloading is very simple. Keep progressing workout to workout until you stall one day. Maybe you can’t hit all your designated reps. If the next time you attempt the workout, you also stall, it’s time for a deload.
Reduce your training volume by 10-15% for the next training week, which will have you moving the weights with ease, and will allow recovery.
The following week you should be able to pick up where you left off prior to the deload, and continue the progression.
*Don’t forget that if you’re only interested in burning fat, we still need to incorporate things to get stronger, and to build muscle. It’ll allow us to use our muscle to our advantage, keeping our metabolic rate up, helping us shed that fat, and give us a better body composition. Skinny fat isn’t cool. Learn to love this process, because this is what will keep the progress coming!
My Favorite Example for Intermediates:
|Exercise||Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4|
|Squats (Linear |
This is by far my favorite, and simplest method for intermediate clients and trainees.
Intermediate Trainees- Those who have been lifting consistently (and intelligently) for 6 months-2 years.
This example is using Linear Periodization, or “Wave Loading”.
You start with a weight you can manage without going to failure for 3 sets of 8 (or your preferred repxset scheme), and add a small weight increase the following week, but reduce your sets by a repetition.
On the fourth week, you would restart with 3×8 and continue the progression at the first increment you progressed to, (in this case would be 205lbs) or you would deload.
If you barely scraped through week 3, and you’re feeling achey-breakey and under-recovered, then week 4 you would deload by reducing your sets to let’s say 2 sets of 6 reps, at the original load (200lbs here). The goal again with a deload is to reduce volume and intensity to manage fatigue!
Now, what if you don’t use barbells?
What if you use dumbbells, kettlebells, cables, machines, or bodyweight?
It’s obviously a little more difficult to go up 5lb dumbbells, 2kg kettlebells, a cable/machine increment, or an entire movement progression each workout, So, what you can do, is utilize a method referred to as “Double Progression”.
*I’ve used this many times for myself with bodyweight and KB/DB training, and the majority of my programming includes it.
In this method you don’t progress the second variable (weight used), until you’ve progressed the first (repetitions).
Choose a weight you can do for 3×12, or whatever range you’re aiming to improve at (3×8, 4×6, 3×15 – we’ll use the 3×12-15 as the example here), without failing on your last set.
Each week, add repetitions trying to get to your goal repxset scheme (here being 3×15).
Take as many sessions/weeks as needed to get to that setxrep goal, but DO NOT fail on your last set. You’ll accumulate too much fatigue too soon, and hinder your performance in the weeks to come.
Double Progression Example:
As an intermediate trainee, this might be more of a realistic interpretation of linear progress.
You can see that in week 5 a deload was taken, where sets were reduced to only 2, and the reps dropped back to the starting reps. In the table, it illustrates a halt in progression in weeks 3 and 4. There could’ve been good amount of fatigue amounting on this trainee, whether being from not taking any prior deloads or rest weeks, or maybe his/her sleep, nutrition, or daily stress levels were thrown off.
BUT (as what commonly happens), after a deload we notice the progression shoots right back up again! Give your body some time to recover and adapt, and it slingshots performance up.
In week 8, you could restart the progression, but with one weight increment up. Here we’d bump up to 35lbs. If you can’t yet start with that weight even at 3×12, start at 3×10, and use 3×12 as the goal instead of 3×15!
Why Does This Matter?
Because you have to progress.
I want this to pique your interest in your current state of training. Have you been stuck on repeat? Audit your training, and be honest. If it’s time for a change, let’s switch it up!
Program Change Example: Full Body, 3 Days/Week
|Rest||Options to |
|1a.) Horizontal Press||4×6||0||BB Bench, DB, |
|1b.) Squat Variation||4×6||2 min||Goblet, Jump, |
|2a.) Horizontal Row||4×6||0||Seated, Ring, TRX, |
T-bar, DB Bench
|2b.) Hip Dominant Lower Body||4×6||2 min||DB/KB Deadlift, |
|3a.) Vertical Press||3×10||0||(Overhead BB, DB, |
KB, Push Press,
|3b.) Lunge Variation||3×10||90 sec||Forward, Reverse, |
|4a.) Vertical Pull||2×15||0||Pull up, Chin up, |
High Pull, Ski-erg
|2×15||0||MB Throws, Tosses, |
Slams, Vertical Jump,
Broad Jump, Frog
Leaps, Jump Rope
|4c.) Carry/Sled||2xMax |
|0||Farmer’s, Suitcase, |
|4d.) Core||2xMax |
|Plank, Knee Tucks, |
Sit-ups, Pallof Press,
Wipers, Side Plank
We’ll call it there for this blog post, next time we’re going to dive into some more key terms, and planning for the larger scale, as well as more immediate integrations.
I have numerous free plans ready to send out, modify, and educate you with. Reach out and let’s learn some shiiiiiiiiit 🙂
Let me know what questions you have, and we’ll get to devising a plan!
I’m a coach, but there’s no true benefit to the everyday individual if they feel they’re “trapped” in the sense of needing a coach, or worse, they feel vulnerable, or incapable without one.
Blog requests are always welcome, let me know what about training you’d like me to chip into!
Here’s a link to a great book that I love, and recommend to those going out of their way to learn.
Thanks for reading, more to come soon!