There are thousands of programmes you can search to try and find the “ultimate programme” that works for you and your goal. You may come across a programme that you like and even find that it works for a little while, but eventually that programme will have to be changed / manipulated to help you continue to progress. But what are the fundamentals of a programme to help you decide which one may work for you?
The consensus is there are 3 main components:
Intensity is how hard (intense) you train – how hard you push that set / muscle group on each session. Do you leave no reps in reserve on each set? Do you only give yourself very short rest periods between sets? Do you even go beyond ‘failure’ via forced reps, eccentric reps etc. on every exercise? This, for example, would be classed as high intensity and usually means that after a set or two tops, you are ready to move on to another exercise.
Volume is how much ‘tonnage’ you shift on that particular exercise / session. A multiple of weight(kgs) x no. of sets x no. of reps. So, if you’re pressing 60Kgs for 4 sets of 10 reps, the volume for that pressing exercise would be 60Kgs x 4 x 10 = 2400Kgs
Frequency is how often you are training that muscle group / similar types of exercises. I.e., if you train Chest every Monday, your frequency is 1 x per week. If you train Chest Monday & Thursday your frequency is twice a week. If you train it Monday, Thursday and Saturday then obviously your frequency is three times a week.
So, with these components in mind, we have to then figure out which one to two components (max) we want to focus on / think will work best for you. We cannot implement all three. Why? Because if we are training with very high Intensity then you will not be able to complete a lot of sets for that exercise / muscle group. If we are training with a lot of Volume per session, the Intensity will have to be dialled in to complete the increased number of programmed sets and reps. If we are training a muscle group Frequently, i.e., 2 or more times a week, then we would have to be mindful of not incorporating lots of Volume or high amounts of Intensity to ensure we are recovered and have another productive session 48 - 72 hrs later.
There are pros and cons for each type of training you choose (to discuss another time). My reason for this little article is to say, be mindful of what you are doing in the gym with regard to how you train, how much you train and how often. There are lots of ways to vary Intensity, Volume & Frequency per workout / training block and macrocycle for continual gains. Figuring out what combination works best for you is the key…