Strength Training Programs – Variation
This is Part 2 of a 4-Part series detailing how to build a successful training program.
Part 1 of this 4-part series discussed the benefits of training with SPECIFICITY. The next step in maximizing your fitness potential and getting as much as you can from your workouts is to add variation to your training.
Implementing variation into your training is critical for your success because without it – no matter how often or how hard you train - your improvements will either plateau or even decrease. There are a number of ways you can add variation to your training – you can vary the volume (sets x reps x weight lifted), exercise selection, training frequency (how often you train), rest intervals, intensity (how heavy or light you’re lifting), and/or the speed of movement - just to name a few. The best way to incorporate training variation is with periodization training. The best way to avoid stagnation is to include intentional variation of the program design variables to create new training stimuli.
There are also different times to incorporate variation into your training. Variation in your training cycles can occur within a single workout, during a week, or over the course of a training cycle / program that lasts for several weeks. Within a workout, a common method is to change up the intensity at which individual exercises are performed. You can also manipulate the rest intervals during a workout to create variation.
Adding variation within your week of training is one of the best ways to incorporate variation into your training cycles by scheduling a combination of light and heavy days of training. Light days are used for active recovery.
However, a training program variation technique that is far superior is to maintain the same number of repetitions but changing the load. If the volume is reduced in conjunction with an increase in repetitions, the cumulative workload will increase, and the light day will actually become a heavy day! If you did some type of testing to establish the level of strength you are taking into the cycle, the load(s) you’re training with can easily become much more accurate, making your training efforts that much more effective.
Your training cycles and programs should vary between weeks, through changes in volume, intensity, frequency, exercise selection and what the training focus is. For example, if you’re going to run a 4-week anatomical adaptation cycle, the cycle may have a 3 (sets) x 12 (reps) scheme programmed for the exercises. Intensity could be increased for 3 weeks and then decreases during the 4th week, creating what is termed a 3:1 loading block. While this is considered the most basic, it is one of the most effective ways to vary your loading from week-to-week that has scientifically proven to produce results. By playing with the various training modes over the training week, you can selectively target specific outcomes and manage fatigue more efficiently, ultimately creating the opportunity to cultivate greater training adaptations…more gains!
Training variations should be incorporated into your cycles as you progress through your fitness journey as you get stronger, leaner, fitter, etc. If you are not mixing variation into your training cycles, not only can results plateau, you can actually lose strength, neuromuscular activation can decrease and you could experience overtraining symptoms.
All of our training cycles have variation built into them, across a week of training, from week-to-week and from cycle to cycle. We’ve done the variation for you - visit https://specimentraining.com/training to check them out for yourself!Sign up for our In The Lab newsletter to get more training tips, program offers, and a wealth of information on how to “Go Beyond Your Limits”!