Reaching your true potential and getting the most out of your investment of time and energy in the gym starts with: learning and perfecting the rep, imploring progressive overload, understanding specificity and aligning your actions with your specific goals.
Once you’ve laid that solid foundation and understand the key principles we discussed in part one these are the exercise variables you’ll need to understand and manipulate in order to periodize your training: frequency, volume, and intensity.
1. FREQUENCY = HOW OFTEN?
Frequency refers to how many times you train a muscle during the week or microcycle.
The first practical question to ask is: “How many days can you realistically commit to going to the gym?” Your answer to that question will give you some insight into your optimal training split, though other factors play a key such as training age, recoverability, goals and more.
If you’re an absolute beginner a three times weekly full body routine that utilizes undulating periodization may be a great place to start. If you’re a bit beyond that then a four day weekly Lower/Upper split may work well.
Muscle groups can be trained 2-4+ times per week depending on many factors.
Bigger muscles move bigger weights so they can’t be trained as often.
i.e. Quads, Hamstrings, Chest etc.
Smaller muscles can be trained more often.
i.e. Medial/Rear Delts, Calves, Abs, etc.
If you’ve got a muscle group you want to prioritize, put it first in the week, train it when you are fresh and experiment with frequency and varying intensities.
2. VOLUME = HOW MUCH?
This refers to the amount of work you do in a given workout or for a body part.
The simple formula is:
Sets x Reps x Weight = Volume (Tonnage)
So let’s say you do 3×10 with 100 pounds. That’s a total volume of 3000. If you wanted to bias volume instead of intensity you could add 2 reps per set, add another set and so on.
Volume is a key driver for hypertrophy and is critical to results. 10-20+ weekly working sets is a good range, start on the lower end and progress up slowly.
Women can also handle a ton more volume then men. Look up cytokines and muscle damage markers in women, thanks estrogen!
3. INTENSITY OR INSANITY?
INTENSE. The word gets thrown around in spades at the gym but do you really know what intensity is? Other than the most used and possibly abused word it’s your ticket to body transformation.
INTENSITY simply means HOW HEAVY?
(In·ten·si·ty) refers to how heavy the weight is relative to your 1 rep max.
A 1 rep max = 100% intensity
8 RM = 80%
10 RM = 75%
12 RM = 70%
20 RM = 60% and so on.
This is the technical definition as it relates to weight training.
This information is very important for proper weight selection and increases. Let’s look at the popular 3×10 protocol we discussed previously. The appropriate load to use in this scheme is about 75%. In order to progress further the weight must increase overtime because you’ll get stronger and need a heavier load to illicit further adaptations.
There are two extremes when it comes to intensity:
1. Never lift heavy. This is the endless rep workout with subpar exercise selections that can’t really be loaded and progressed very well anyway. #junkvolume
2. Always lift heavy. This is the “anything over 5 reps is cardio” group. This can work for strength if technique is dialed in but it leaves a lot to be desired. #MaxOutEveryday
If you only do one extreme or the other you’ll miss out on a host of various benefits.
So why do people neglect the spectrum?
I believe there are many reasons why but what it comes down to is staying in a comfort zone, and fearing true intensity which brings us to the subjective definition: EFFORT.
This definition varies from person to person but once you understand objective intensity you need to apply and experience it. It’s hard work but it is a skill that can be trained as well. If you build this mental fortitude you can say goodbye to lackluster results.
This is why people fail: They do the same exercises and weights with the same poor form and rep schemes over and over again expecting different results. Instead they get none because the body stopped being challenged a long time ago.
This is also the definition of insanity, except in the gym where people think (or do they?) that training the body means turning off the mind.
Train INTENSE with ALL INTENSITIES.PRACTICAL GYM APPLICATIONS: Build your exercise program focusing on these foundational movement patterns with picture perfect form then add a little more weight (intensity), a few more reps or sets every workout or so (volume) and build up over time (progressive overload.) Your training split (frequency) should fit with your lifestyle (recovery/stress) and your exercise selection (individualization + sequencing) and rest periods (density) should match your goals: Want to be better at squatting? You need to squat (specificity.)
Manipulating the above training variables and techniques (Although there are many more… Remember exercise is an art and a science.) will take you far in maximizing your true genetic potential!
If you’re ready to get control of your health contact me for a free consultation to learn more about the coaching services I provide and how I can help you in your unique health and fitness journey!