June 22, 2017

Transition Program & Record Keeping

Over lunch the other day with a client I ended up explaining how my thoughts on resistance training have changed over the last few years, especially in regard to programing (i.e., the frequency, intensity, and volume of resistance training sessions).  At the heart of our conversation was my admission that my thoughts about resistance training programming have changed dramatically since I started in the weights game so long ago.  My training and my work with a wide variety of clients has solidified the need for individualized programming, regardless of the goal; however, I currently am going through a bit of a transitional period as to how to best define fitness and, perhaps even more importantly, how to best achieve that measure.  Additionally, the strength and resistance training game has focused my attention on how it is imperative to take the “long view” when looking at fitness goals—in addition to setting measurable short-term goals, it is helpful to realize that significant and enduring changes in one’s fitness can take a long time to accomplish (note that this is particularly true when it comes to adding lean muscle mass as you get older).

I recently put together a fairly straightforward resistance training program to help me get back in the weight room—actually I never left, rather, this helped me stay fresh and come in with a bit higher intensity.  While I am increasingly focusing on large, multi-joint movements, the program set out below is a 6-on, 1-off split routine of the low-frequency, high-intensity, short-duration, muscle isolation variety (italics added for emphasis … recall, that I am in “transition”).  As none of the moves are technically complex (with the exception of the barbell back squats), this program can be used by a wide variety of clients.  For me, it bought me a bit of time in the weight room to allow me to develop some more complex training program for next year!  Feel free to use this program to progress your own fitness goals or even as an introduction to resistance training (if you don’t know how to perform a good squat, feel free to see my thoughts on the squat set out here).  Use this program in good health and don’t hesitate to employ a professional to help you learn the appropriate movement patters (feel free to shoot me an e-mail and I will do my best to help you out).  Note: I would recommend using Week 4 as an “unloading” week, i.e., drop the weights down a bit then return to your Week 3 numbers on Week 5.  Additionally, this would ideally be a 6-week program, where you allow an initial preparatory week of training to set the stage for the work to come by getting comfortable with the movement patters (this also allows you an opportunity to note your machine & rack settings in order to move more efficiently through each workout).

Add a preparatory week to make this a 6-week program and mark Week 4 as an “unloading week” (dropping the weights down a bit).

A high resolution .PDF file of this program can be found here.

A bit about record keeping.  I firmly believe that keeping accurate training records is essential to achieving one’s fitness goals.  First, if you are committed to the idea, the training log serves as a tool that drives accountability.  Second, and perhaps even more importantly, the training log provides insights about what works and what doesn’t on an individualized basis.  Over the years I have used a variety of systems and, just so you don’t think that I never fail to record my training activities, I do advise taking periodic breaks from record keeping and training “free”—unencumbered by a training journal and perhaps devices that track workout intensity (i.e., heart rate monitors, GPS, etc.).  However, in a bit of a determined effort to get all of my training data down in one place, I recently purchased a couple of college notebooks and labeled the first book as follows:  “7-Year Plan: Book 1.”  The title reflect my interest in taking the long view!  I am challenging myself to gain 14-20 lbs. of lean muscle mass in 7 years.  To some this may seem like a relatively low bar;  however, for my age (42) and considering my body type (a true endomorph) this seems about right.  The weight range allows some flexibility to adjust to how I feel carrying the additional body weight and how these changes in body composition fit in to my ever-evolving definition of fitness.  When I fill up Book 1, I will carry on with Book 2, etc., etc.