This program will NOT get you shredded in six weeks.
It won’t make you super strong while barely doing anything.
It also won’t make you poop out money and boundless volumes of the human experience and history, wowing all those around at your well-read-ed-ness.
What it will do is open you up to understanding how training programs work and how to make your training more purposeful. Why is training purposefully important?
Because by training with a purpose you can break through the artificial ceilings on your potential and TRULY realize your goals.
When you’re doubting your training, reflect on how it adheres to your purpose. If it does, then you know you just need to keep pushing. If you’ve reached a plateau and need to adapt, reflecting on your purpose manifests the fundamental skills and tools needed to achieve the adaptation.
When you read about people of the past, you realize what problems are unique and which ones carryover no matter what time you live in. It strengthens you to adversity that you start to face when you realize it’s the same adversity that so-and-so experienced long ago.
When Training Programs Make you Think
If there was ever one program that I would say led me to truly understand training as more than a six week workout routine that you just DO, its Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1.
Jim has a history of training and accomplishments, including squatting 1000 lbs, playing college football, and being a strength and conditioning coach for several years. He’s had a lot of time under the bar and his book reflects that.
Instead of promising to grow 40 inch arms in six weeks or get six-pack shredded, Jim’s program (an actual eBook!) outlines philosophies of training and encourages readers to develop their own. It teaches values and to surround values around movements.
Moreover, Jim teaches his readers to use those training values as sieves through which new information, techniques, etc can be processed.
It’s a sure-fire way to not fall or skip from one random workout to the next and to create organization/stability in your training. Then you can play around with a little mobility here and there.
At the end of the day, his message has taught me that if you want to learn how to understand training from a long-term view, you need to learn about creating training VALUES and having PURPOSE.
Having a Purpose
Purpose is the greatest training program ever and its close partner is consistency.
What is the purpose behind your training? What are your dos and don’ts? Do you have a knee problem? Then any training period that you undertake should take your knee dysfunction into consideration.
Are you trying to build muscle? Being in caloric maintenance or surplus while inducing metabolic stress is important. Volume and density are going to be part of your programming.
Having a purpose also means realizing that you can’t attack all of your physical abilities, in full capacity, all at once.
You can get stronger if you’re trying to gain size but you won’t be optimizing strength. There are different parameters for both strength and size, and you have to define in your purpose which one is going to be more important for ‘xxx’ amount of time.
It may even imply setting a yearly training plan or even several years worth of goals that you hope to achieve.
By then you can beat the Fear of Missing Out or F.O.M.O. by knowing that you’ve dedicated a specific time in the future, that is specific and time bound to attack a goal, while you focus TODAY on TODAY’s goal.
Understand Training Economy
I’ve talked numerous times about the importance of training economy but if you still are unsure of it, it’s looking at the whole world of training as a hierarchy that involves YOU spending your effort. You only have so much energy and focus to apply to a given goal.
Everything takes exertion.
And everything can potentially play a role in what you and I do in our training. At the same time, you have overlap and sometimes that overlap can be unnecessary.
If you have a full body program where you’re doing a dozen isolation upper-body exercises while at the end of it leaving a crucial pre-hab exercise that you NEED to do in order to take care of your hip problem AND you have to fit it all into an hour WHILE STILL working a demanding job, how good is your consistency going to be?
Now there are ways to get around this like doing super-sets, training the opposite muscle in-between rest periods of an exercise etc. but that is taking into account training economy.
If you didn’t and decided to do straight sets all around and ignore your energy expenditure, you’re going to suffer from under-recovering as well as ignoring a key area for your long-term performance; that nagging hip issue.
We’re talking Germany-after-World-War-One-SUFFER.
Those were both pretty bad, fyi. Take a moment to reflect on your current program and assess if you’re optimizing training economy for you lifestyle.
Training Economy is not just lifting; it involves a lot more than that. It is goals, programming, equipment, AND training. All of these things are contributors to the bigger idea. When you are in a gym where your time is as limited as your equipment, being smart about your programming choices and movements are paramount. Just because you may use your kids as resistance when performing pulling or dragging movements does not mean that you cannot succeed. Sometimes thinking outside of the box can offer the best results and make things a little more interesting. – David Disney (EliteFTS)
Finding The Skills and Tools to Reach Your Purpose
What area are is weak and needs to be strengthened in order to achieve the purpose of your training?
Name two to three.
Want to get more muscular?
Eating in a caloric surplus, getting enough rest, training with an appropriately aggressive volume to create metabolic fatigue are all areas that impact size.
Therefore incorporating them into the purpose of getting more muscular makes sense.
Moreover by using movements that require lots of musculature at one time with lots of overload respect training economy.
Okay…..But what if you also want to have a bodybuilding physique?
Add selective isolation work and see how you manage.
“Okay, Compound Movements are Important, but which one(s) do I do?”
We talked about how most of human movement can be broken down into several primal movements that are considered a common language or lingua franca amid other movement. This is your index to look up against what skills you’re trying to develop, what holes you may have, etc.
If compound movements are a key area for actualizing our purpose of getting more muscular, then think,”What can I reasonably do with good form without hurting myself?”
Now, this takes time. When I completed Jim Wendler’s program, I had been squatting, bench pressing, rowing, and doing the main lingua franca (except carries) for a few years.
I knew that certain movements, no matter how much I tried just hurt and that the learning curve or knowledge of my body wasn’t there yet. So I adopted other movements.
When barbell back squats were becoming frustrating, I incorporated more barbell front squats and my squatting pattern improved. I focused on overloading the front squat while working with lower intensities to retool my back squat, and also incorporate much-needed single leg work.
By doing so, I stopped being a slave to the tools and instead utilized the tools to better reach the end goal.
If no matter how much you barbell back squat, it just doesn’t feel right….maybe its not a good compound movement at the moment.
Maybe there are better tools you can use, in the moment to improve your lower body musculature, and to better actualize your hypertrophy goals.
Understand that the tools are just tools as well. Tools are inferior in this hierarchy of training economy to the skills they develop. And in turn, the skills that you’re going to develop are subject to their ability to reach the purpose that they aim to actualize.
Experience, Experimentation, and Exploration
Just because training in the 8 -12 rep range is conducive to gain muscle doesn’t mean that’s set ins tone for YOU and for all body parts.
Just because getting faster is beneficial from the Olympic lifts, doesn’t’ mean YOU find it the most efficient.
Just because eating a certain way is pushed as the optimal way of pursuing ‘xxx’ performance goal doesn’t mean its conducive or beneficial to YOUR lifestyle.
You’ve got to contextualize, explore, experiment, and experience.
And that goes for myself first and foremost.
Maybe the best thing you did for your training recovery in-between hard training sessions, was to go and take on a pottery class to cool your hands off.
I know, crazy right? Maybe its going to sit and read some Qur’an or Bible study.
Who knows….You might be religious and have deep convictions/values that are tethered to other aspects of your life.
I don’t know.
YOU DO THOUGH.
It’s up to you to go and explore and see what is beneficial, works, and is efficient for YOUR needs and your restrictions.
However, you might want to start with those things that have had a historical experience of working for most people, and then wander off from there.
Using the Lingua Franca as your Rosetta Stone, go out and explore movement, learn from people and experts in their movement expertise, and use that for your own understanding, and build on your training philosophy.
So what makes the ULTIMATE training program?
The ultimate training program has a purpose.
It takes into account your training history, needs, and stresses.
It works to maximize consistency.
And it is a plan that can be followed for the long haul.
Ultimately, the ULTIMATE training program will ADD to your life. Not take away from it. It’ll help widen your base, as they say, so you can get higher on your other goals.