Wrapping up and reflecting on an entire year can be overwhelming and exhausting. Sometimes we let that bleed into the new year so let me help remind you that there is never a good time to start working out. Your health always has been, and always will be priority.
We get caught up in remembering what we “used to” be able to do or “used to” lift. One thing I can promise you is that life will always throw curveballs your way, and it is my job to make you athletic enough to dodge them so let’s start by addressing weightlifting.
When it comes to strength training (whether you’re a beginner or advanced), there is always an element of the unknown when deciding which weights to grab for any given exercise. You want to challenge yourself but not at the expense of getting hurt.
So how do you know when to de-load, maintain, or progress when it comes to your strength training? I will handle the science behind all of that (week over week) but I would like to help you figure out the best way to estimate what weights to grab during your strength training workouts, and when to progress.
First Thing’s First
When you start getting serious about your strength training program, you have to let go of the expectation that every workout will be your BEST ONE EVER. There is a learning curve to lifting, and depending on who you are, it can take up to two or three weeks to figure out . This is exactly why a proper strength training program will provide subtle progressions form one week to the next. There has to be some level of repeatability but there also needs to be a changing stimulus to provide an opportunity for progression.
My favorite quote of all time is 1% better every day. You can’t win them all but you have to at least check the boxes on the days where that seems to be the most difficult, and push on the days where you’re feeling it.
Below assumes a 6-week program. I have found in my 10+ years of program that this is the sweet spot. Maximum strength would require about a 12 week block but that gets a little boring. On the other hand, if we change what we are doing every single week we don’t give our body the chance to adjust to the stimulus we’ve placed on it. With a 4/6 week program, we can easily keep track of a handful of items we wish to get better at and not risk boredom. That’s just me though and honestly there’s no one right or wrong answer.
The Program Overview
If your program is six weeks, look at it this way, week-by-week.
Week One: De-load, explore, understand
Week Two: Make adjustments
Weeks Three, Four, Five: Progress*, focus on the mind-muscle connection and technicality of the drill
Week Six: Go all fcking out
*There is more than one way to progress than loading up your bar or going up in dumbbells. If everyone progressed with every workout, we’d all be squatting 1,000’s of pounds. An understanding of how to advance your rep without going up in weight is absolutely crucial. You can get better and stronger by adding reps, sets, tempo, reducing rest, etc.. But again, leave this part up to me 😉
Breaking Down Your Strength Training Program Week-by-Week
You’ll see the first week isn’t about PR’s, running yourself into the ground, or having the BEST workout ever. The first week should be spent understanding the technicality of your drills and the recovery time needed between sets, but also between workouts. Grab a set of dumbbells or start with an empty bar and play around with a few loads and reps until you feel like you’re in the right spot. You should honestly leave an exercise feeling like you had 2-3 reps in the tank, you felt really good about your form, and you can tell me exactly where you are feeling it.
You will look back at week 1 and say “man I couldn’t gone heavier here” or “I took too long of a rest here” or “I didn’t feel that where I was suppose to so maybe I’ll scale back a bit, slow down and really focus on my mind muscle connection”. Make adjustments where it is needed.
You know the drills and how they play together not just within THAT workout, but how you feel from day-to-day because of them. Focus on small wins every week, around 5-10% better for each lift or your recovery time during intense cardio sections.
GO ALL OUT THIS IS YOUR LAST WEEK GIVE IT ALL YOU GOT. Go for a PR, an extra rep, whatever that cycle asks for. Relish in your progress and acquired strength and make sure to text me how great you did so I can blast it all over the internet.
How to Manage Weight Throughout Your Strength Training Program
Your form is everything. It has to be perfect, and it’s the number one priority. Reps and weight don’t mean shit if you’re at risk of an injury, not performing the exercise properly or the proper muscles aren’t firing when they’re supposed to.
I track my workouts using our app WODify, so I have a running log not only of what I’m doing in my current program week to week but what I’ve done in the PAST. Tracking is the FIRST step to staying organized and holding yourself accountable for progress.
For example, if my current program calls for 3×8 sets of barbell squats, but it’s been a minute since I’ve done them, I’ll look back in my tracker and be like, “Okey, I did 3×12 sets of low bar squats at 135lbs back in December. It’s been a second since I’ve done them, but I’ve had some solid training since then so…I’ll warm up with about 60% of that, and then take one set at 135 to acclimate.”
Assuming the warm-up and the first set at 135 goes well I’ll add 5-10lbs to the bar and continue. If the warm-up and the first set were rusty, I’ll maintain, or reload by 5-10lbs and prioritize form and range of motion.
This doesn’t have to be overwhelming and you shouldn’t be discouraged if you’re trying something new.
Don’t know where to start? Contact Us Now and we can set up a call to discuss where you’re at and where you’d like to go.
Happy New Year