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How to Follow a Training Program

Understanding Your Program

Exercise Order

Your exercises are already selected and numbered for you. If you must change exercises, ask your coach for a recommendation or choose a similar exercise and note your substitution.


Some workouts will include supersets - where you perform exercises back-to-back without rest. Supersets will be marked with letters, for example:

A - Hang from a bar

B - Couch Stretch

C - Slant board calf stretch

This means you would do A, then B, then C and then repeat.


1A - Dumbbell Reverse lunge

1B - Chin-up

This means you would do 1A, then 1B, then repeat.


Pay attention to the order of exercises because a superset is very different from doing just one exercise at a time.

 

Sets

In my training programs I don’t specify how many sets you should do because the amount of volume your body needs is different from someone else and on any given day changes due to many factors.


Perform as many sets as you can until your performance begins to drop off, meaning once you’re getting weaker at the exercise, stop and move on to the next exercise.


For example, if you’re bench pressing 155 lb and you get 10 on the first 2 sets and the third set you get 8 reps, it’s time to move on to the next exercise. Once you feel like you’re weaker than when you started, move on.


If you’ve been training for less than one year consistently, you want to get more sets at a lower intensity. As you get stronger, the intensity increases and the number of sets decreases.


If you’ve been training for more than one year consistently, I want you to have a Top Set Mindset. This means each exercise you’re working up to one single top set that is the most difficult set of the day for that exercise. After each top set ask yourself if you can outperform your previous set, and if you definitely can’t, it’s time to move on.

 

Reps

All rep ranges build muscle and strength, so it’s your individual goals that will determine your rep schemes. If you want to focus on strength, perform lower reps. To focus on endurance, perform higher reps. If you want to build muscle, focus on the mid range of reps.


AMRAP - as many reps/rounds as possible, basically do as much as you can

Myo Reps - perform as many reps as you can, rest 10-20sec, repeat until rep goal is reached

 

Tempo

There are 4 parts to any exercise:

Eccentric - lengthening of the muscle or lowering

Isometric - the pause at the bottom

Concentric - shortening of the muscle or raising

Isometric - the pause at the top


You’ll see tempo listed as 4 numbers that represent one part of the exercise movement.


For example, a squat with a 4010 tempo means: lower the weight 4 seconds, pause zero seconds, raise the weight for one second, and repeat.


Every exercise doesn’t start with the eccentric, so remember the first number is the lowering or eccentric part of the movement.


For example, here is the chin-up exercise performed with a 3131 tempo: lower for 3 seconds, pause for 1 second at the bottom, raise for 3 seconds, then pause 1 second at the top.


Doing a slower tempo is much more difficult than a faster tempo and your results will be different as well.


Tempo is one of the most overlooked components of training for the new lifter, but it can help you improve your training to build more muscle and control.

 

Rest

Unless you’re training your cardiovascular system for conditioning, we want to rest long enough between sets that we can catch our breath and our heart rate calms. This is resistance training, and we want our muscles to be the limiting factor, not our breath.


If your primary goal is to build strength, go towards the higher range of rest. If your focus is building muscle, the lower range of recommended rest is fine.


In general, for heavier compound exercises at the beginning of the workout we want to rest more, and for isolation exercises towards the end we can rest less.


Using Your Program

Enter Your Weight

It’s ok if you don’t know what weight to start with, the first time you go through a training program you’ll have to learn what’s right for you. This takes time, so be patient and learn.


When beginning a new program, always start with lighter weight because it’s much safer and gives you opportunity for progress.


For simplicity, choose one single weight to use for your top set(s) and only enter one weight per exercise.

 

Enter Your Reps

Write the number of reps you got with the weight entered. If you perform more than one set, track how many reps you got each set.


We track our performance because next week you want to be better!

 

Enter the Difficulty

The two common measurements of difficulty that are widely used are the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) and reps in reserve (RIR) methods. I find these tend to overcomplicate a rather simple concept, so for simplicity, the options for difficulty are:

  • Too light

  • A little light

  • Just right

  • A little heavy

  • Too Heavy

This will help us determine what weight to use for the next workout. If it’s just right, we’ll use the same weight. If it’s too light or too heavy, we’ll add or decrease 10 pounds. If it’s a little light or heavy, we’ll add or decrease 5 pounds.


Your program will update automatically, but sometimes it will be necessary to enter weights that are different from the recommendation. Use your common sense or ask your coach for help if you’re unsure which weight to use.

 

Check Your Technique!

Every rep must look exactly the same!!!!


Tracking our performance is pointless if your technique changes as the weight gets heavier. If your squat depth decreases as the weight increases, you’re wasting your time tracking.


Record your top set for each exercise and send it to your coach for review.

 

Making Adjustments

If you notice your joints feel stiff/tight, you’re not making progress week to week, or you’re unable to complete the workouts for whatever reason, there are spaces in your program where you can enter notes.


Make a note of how you felt that day and any feedback you might have. Next time you connect with your coach you can review the training program and make necessary adjustments.




Hope this helps! - Tom



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