Is It Time to Ramp Up Your Workout?

IMG_5140You are finally motivated to take your training to the next level.  You are no longer satisfied with these mundane mediocre workouts that leave your body fatigued but no different looking, or performing, than before you started.  Your goals are literally “running on a treadmill”, taking you nowhere.  Maybe you are satisfied with your physique, but you know you have more – and you want to know what that “more” is!  It all starts with increasing the intensity of your training.

How do you intelligently increase the intensity of your training so that it provides the biggest benefit?  That is where this blog comes in.  How you change your training regimen is going to largely depend on what your goals are.  If you are training to sprint faster, your training will change to the polar opposite of a long distance runner.  937If you are a fighter that needs stamina for 12 rounds you will train completely different than a power lifter who needs enormous energy for 1 bout of a 3 second lift.  What will be considered is duration, frequency, intensity, rest, and nutrition.

If you are looking for this blog to spell out each individual sport specific training protocol, you are looking in the wrong place.  There are tons of great research online to help individual athletes develop programs specific to their sport.  What I hope to accomplish here is to provide you with what questions you should be trying to ask so you can develop a program that will take your training to the next level.

Knowing the Right Questions

fitness-goalsBefore we start, determine your main focus: Do you need to develop strength (increase the load of a 1 rep max ), hypertrophy (increase in muscle size  ), or stamina (increase the ability to repeat a movement continuously with little fatigue over a longer duration).  Without a doubt, genetics play the biggest factor in our performance, our aesthetics, and our health.  Hard work takes off where genetics leaves off.  Nothing worth having comes easy.  But you have to work hard… and smart!

These are the questions you should be asking to take your body to the next level.

Question 1: Intensity

IntensityIntensity can have a plethora of different meanings.  Let’s define it to mean the % of load, and the speed of each individual repetition.  When we discuss speed, we begin to blur together other principals that we will look at later, such as duration.  As a matter of fact, all of the following definitions and principals will affect intensity.   In other words, how heavy should I lift and how fast should each repetition be performed to elicit the biggest change for my goal?

Question 2: Frequency

workout-too-muchFrequency controls the variables of how often to lift or exercise.  How many reps, sets, and training sessions should I have in a given week?  This is easiest described by looking at a marathon runners training schedule.  How often should they run to get the desired affect of being able to run further faster?  If they train to often (long runs every day), their muscles don’t have ample time to repair – and that, my friends, is what this is all about!

Frequency is a huge variable when it comes to our goals because it works in conjunction with recovery, or controlling how much our muscle can recover/repair before the next repetition, set, or training session.

Question 3:  Duration

durationDuration, as we are using the term, will be the time variable.  The time it takes to lift in one rep, one set, and one training period.  Duration for a boxer could be, how long each round goes, how many rounds in that specific match, and how many matches that day.

Duration is used in some other pertinent principals of exercise as well.  Such as the “TUT” principal.  This is described as time under tension.  The object of TUT is trying to gain a training affect by varying the time your body is under load during resistance exercise.  When talking about duration and TUT, we have to consider the phases of contraction.  Mostly the eccentric phase (negative).  Many theories have supporting data that a slow negative movement will increase mass, strength, and tone of a muscle during resistance exercise.  How long a training session lasts to be optimal for a training effect is also hugely important.  If you train longer than your body can maintain intensity for, may be your downfall in the long run. How long or short, slow or fast,  should my reps, sets, rest time, and workouts be?

Question 4: Recovery (rest and nutrition)

Sleep-and-RecoveryThis question could be its own blog.  Please consider doing a lot of homework on your own looking at the questions I will pose.  Recovery includes so many variables that will get us off track, so let’s just focus on rest and nutrition.  I believe, and it is supported by solid research, that nutrition and rest are the most important factors limiting growth and performance second only to genetics and androgenic drugs.

Rest and nutrition are powerful variables that can give an athlete the advantage even when competing against a stronger more gifted rival.

1. How long should I rest between sets
2. How long should I rest between workouts
3. How long should I rest between specific body parts (how often should I hit legs)
4. What do I eat before or after training
5. How much should I eat to maximize results
6. What do I eat to maximize results
7. What do I NOT eat (does alcohol or sugars affect a training response)

Cheat Sheet – The Beginning…

There are no easy answers for any of these questions.  The answers are all specific to your sport and your methodology of training.  But I promise you, if you are training hard, its worth it for you to find the specific answers you need for your specific goals.  If you are a football player, and you train like a football player but eat a ballerina’s diet, you will look and perform like a ballerina.  (That is not a jab at ballerina’s) – just sayin’.

I came across a helpful table on Wikipedia based on sound theory and solid research, and I agree with much of it.  I hope this table is a useful tool to help get you started on answering the questions we have developed to master your craft!

Variable

Training Goal

Strength

Power

Hypertrophy

Endurance

Speed

Load (% of 1RM)

80-90

45-60

60-80

40-60

30

Reps per set

1-5

1-5

6-12

13-60

1-5

Sets per exercise

4-7

3-5

4-8

2-4

3-5

Rest between sets (mins)

2-6

2-6

2-5

1-2

2-5

Duration (seconds per set)

5-10

4-8

20-60

80-150

20-40

Speed per rep (% of max)

60-100

90-100

60-90

60-80

100

Training sessions per week

3-6

3-6

5-7

8-14

3-6

Table reproduced from Siff, 2003[9]
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About Steve Pfiester

Certified CrossFit, TRX, Kettlebell Athletics Trainer with a B.S. in Physical Therapy. Owner of Longevity Max Fitness and BCx Boot Camp.

Posted on June 26, 2013, in PFIT TIPS, PFUNDAMENTALS and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Awesome tips – thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow! Awesome! Thanks!

  3. Great post, thanks Steve! A good reminder that you need to have clear definition of your primary goal before you can decide on your training and resting/nutrition plans.

  4. Good points! I’m catching up on some rest at the moment, which can be hard once you get into a steady rhythm working out. Still, it’s a must. I just started a health and fitness blog and would love if you checked it out! willnegus.wordpress.com. Thanks and take care!

  5. great chart! thanks again, Steve! timing is good, too…
    man, i REALLY need to buckle down.
    -g-

  6. If some one needs expert view about blogging afterward
    i suggest him/her to pay a visit this web site, Keep up the good
    job.

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