Archive for January, 2011

Ch..ch…ch…changes!

Posted: January 14, 2011 in Training
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Happy New Year! (when is it too late to say that?!) ūüėČ

With a new year comes new beginnings, fresh starts, and the perfect time to make changes.

If you feel like your training has stalled or that you’re stuck in a rut, you’ll want to pay attention to this post.

An often overlooked, yet important, training principle is program modification. What this simply means is periodically making changes to your current training routine to continue making progress and gains.

Now, depending on your goals and current level of fitness, this can be done a number of ways.

The most common is to simply change the exercises you’re doing. So for example, if you’re currently doing dumbell rows you might then switch to recline/body inverted rows. This is a great way to make progress and to keep things fresh…which will help you stay excited and commited to your program.

Hot! But changes need to be made...

There are hundreds of different exercises to¬†incorporate¬†into your program…some are crap but many have stood the test of time. Sometimes there is only one way to find out and if your body responds to a new exercise and you enjoy it…it’s a win!

There are some exercises that deserve continued use, especially for beginner/intermediates who it is necessary for in order to learn the proper technique and get stronger at these specific movements. These basic lifts would include squat, bench, deadlift, chin/pull-ups, and some olympic movements (although these are quite difficult to learn and you might be better off getting help from someone who knows these movements). If you change these exercises too frequently, it will be hard to make steady strength gains and your progress will be limited. By focusing on these core lifts repeatedly your structural tolerance (strengthening of ligaments, tendons etc) will be better able to sustain subsequently greater stress/weight in further training sessions.

With that being said, it is still necessary to make alternative changes to these movements in other ways AND on your accessory exercises. ¬†Beginner/intermediate trainees will be best served switching up their program/exercises less frequently, anywhere from every 8-12 weeks while advanced lifters can benefit from switching it up more frequently. Therefore, if you’re a beginner and you are sticking with the basic lifts, when it comes time to switching it up, you would keep the same main lift but vary the intensity. This can be done by changing the rep scheme and load/weight: if you are doing 3×5 heavy change it to 4×8-12 moderate weight. ¬†This is essential if you want to make continued gains. Another way to change up the same exercise would be by decreasing the rest time between sets.

This change is also beneficial for those that change the exercises altogether. You wouldn’t simply want to go into the gym and do the exact same sequence, sets, reps, rest, etc of a different set of exercises. While this would be ok, you would reap much better rewards by switching up the exercises AND one other variable (sets/rep scheme, rest time, supersets, compound sets, ladders etc).

Here is a simple example for illustrative puposes:

Week 1-4                                                                                  Week 5-8

Bench 5×5 ¬†(90 sec rest) ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Bench 3×8-12 (60 sec rest)

DB Row 3×10-12 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Chin ups 3×5

Lunge 3×6-10 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† One leg hip thruster 2×12

Skull crushers 2×12-15 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Close grip bench 3×6-8

In the above example you are keeping the core lift (bench) but switching up the rep scheme AND rest time between sets.  You could also even change the bench to incline bench or db bench. The options really are quite endless.

The key thing to remember is you want to get excited about each training session and if you’re doing the EXACT same thing in 6 months from now as you are today, your enthusiasm will be lacking and you will find it hard to get motivated for your session and your gains will most likely not be where you want them to be.

It’s a new year and a new start. Heck, it’s a new day, a new start!

It’s time to get crack-a-lacking and make serious gains and progress.

If you’ve been using the same program for awhile….STOP! Make some changes, switch up the routine, and get back on the right path towards your goals.

Your body and your mind (including your sanity) will thank you! ūüėČ

Go make those ch..ch..ch…changes!

As always, if you have any questions/comments please fire away.

Straight up,

Matt B.