During our training session at Fit Performance gym on Saturday, Aaron Donaldson (All Fitness Dimensions) and I were discussing the best programme for building strength.
Aaron Donaldson has used the famous 5,3,1 programme by Jim Wendler to take his back squat up to 160kg. I have also used the 5,3,1 programme and took my back squat up to 135kg in just 3 months. However Aaron Bolton (ABS personal training) who was there coaching at the time had the most success using the Texas method, taking his back squat up to nearly 200kg in just under a year! This really got me thinking; With so many great programmes available to choose from, especially in this internet age, how can we possibly know which training programme is best for us without going through the lengthy process of trying each one in turn?
First of all the most important thing to remember about a training programme is that until you actually do the workouts, it’s just another useless piece of paper. You have to follow the programme, TO THE LETTER for a reasonable period of time.
So what exactly do I mean by ’to the letter’?
The programme you follow will most likely have been written with great care and attention by the coach of trainer and they will know EXACTLY the outcome the would like you to achieve from each workout. If you then start carefully skipping these workouts or changing them, those carefully planned sessions suddenly change and become either too hard, too easy or just plain dangerous.
So what then constitutes a reasonable period of time?
Some programmes will call for you to follow them for up to 12 months at a time others will claim amazing results in just 6-8 weeks. Personally I am somewhere in the middle and would recommend following a programme for AT LEAST 12 weeks/ 3 months. Anything less than this and you simply cannot expect the body to make the necessary adaptations needed to improve. After 12 weeks you can measure your progress, whether that is in weight loss or strength gain and revaluate. If you have followed the above rules and not made progress then it’s time to change what you are doing. If you have then stick with what you are already doing.
Remember- If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Some basic rules and a checklist for choosing the right programme for you:
– Does it overload you? Put simply: is it hard? Does it force you to step out of your training zone?
– Does it progress over time? Are your workouts getting harder over time as you improve?
– Is it specific? Are the workouts specific to what you are trying to improve?
– Is reversibility an issue? Are you working out often enough to keep improving and not lose your gains?
Ask yourself the above questions about the programme you are currently on. If the answers are all yes then keep at it. If not then you need to look at fixing the issues, or switching programme. If you would like any programming help or advice then please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.