The amount of thought most people put into their training programme usually consists of walking in the gym and seeing what they feel like training. This is the most backward and limiting philosophy towards training and in this article I’m going to spell out why – and what you should be considering instead.


First of all we need to consider some of the essential factors involved in a good training programme.


We need to optimise recovery, yet get enough heavy loading and intensity to actually stimulate growth. We’ve got to pick exercises carefully that actually suit our body’s biomechanical makeup and that’s all before we even consider the amount of volume we need to get the response we’re after.


Sounds pretty complex huh?


Well, let’s break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks.


Training Programme Tip #1: You’re Only As Good As Your Recovery

First of all, optimise recovery. So, if you’re a relative beginner, I’d advise going for a full body approach (read more about this on my earlier blog on programming for beginners). This allows for frequent stimulus to all muscles without going ridiculous on one area and leaving you unable to recover for a week. Best of both worlds as far as a beginner is concerned.


I’d then recommend not training any more than 4-5 times per week. At the peak of my harshest diets and preps I only lift weights 5x per week. I just don’t see the merit in smashing my body into oblivion when I know my limits and I know that if I’m training hard enough, I won’t be able to recover from 6-7 workouts per week. At least, not as a natural.


Use your rest days here to get on top of your mobility work, stretching and active rest will help speed up the recovery process and get you back in the gym faster.


We also need to be sparing and strategic with our lower back loading throughout the week. If you’re lifting heavy (as you should be and you’ll see why later on), lower back loading movements are going to be extremely taxing on the central nervous system – which takes much longer to recover than your muscles do.


So limit yourself to no more than 2 or 3 really heavy lower back loading movements a week, and as long as you’re sleeping, eating and hydrating well you should be good to go.


Training Programme Tip #2: No Substitute For Hard Work And Heavy Loading

Now, there are many mechanisms of hypertrophy but if you think you can go from skinny to dench without picking up some pick weights you’re dreaming pal.


As I’ve talked about before, success leaves clues and if you look at all the muscular people you aspire to look like – they all use strength as a marker towards progress in some way, shape or form.


Strength isn’t the only factor involved in muscular development, of course, but it’s a major tool we can use to elicit progress. Progressive overload is, and has been the corner stone of good training programmes for decades. Consistently getting stronger, whether that be increasing the reps on a set weight over time, increasing that weight, slowing the tempo or just improving the execution, we need to have a way of progressing or we’re never going to get bigger.


With that in mind, we need to focus at least part of our workouts on heavy loading. I would suggest the first 50-75% of the majority of workouts should be focused on getting stronger across a multitude of rep ranges (so don’t start doing 1 rep maxes all day long).


With the loading being this heavy and for this much of the workout, we can’t do a huge amount of workout volume (by volume, in this case, I’m referring to actual sets in the workout, not reps or weight). So loading heavy for 5-6 sets per exercise, adding up to 30-40 loading sets in the workout will not work. You will not recover from this – and if you do, you’re not training hard enough or loading heavy enough. As a result, we need to think about dropping the workout volume and training a lot harder in each given set.


“Be Impressed By Intensity, Not Volume” – Derek Woodske


The thing is, anyone can stay in the gym for 3 hours and do a bunch of shit sets with fuck all weight. It’s not a hard thing to do, but in reality the main thing you’re achieving is a massive waste of your day. It’s a much smarter idea to trim your workout down to a very simple 2 working sets per exercise, a loading set, and a back off set, and work your balls off in both of those sets.


This kind of training doesn’t work if you aren’t willing to go to absolute failure in any given set. You have to pick a decent amount of weight and fail in the rep range you’re shooting for. If you have even 1 rep left in the tank when you’re training – you’re leaving gains on the table. Push yourself to complete and utter failure in the gym or you won’t give your body any reason to change from the place it already is.


Training Programme Tip #3: Choose Your Exercises Carefully

There’s a limited amount of ‘blanket advice’ I can give for this point – because the very nature of it is that it’s individualised. We all have different structural and biomechanical makeups, and as a result we’re not all suited for the same exercises. Sure, Arnold might have build his legs by back squatting but that doesn’t automatically mean they’re a good fit for you.


There are ‘types’ of movements that I believe we should all have in our training programme if we intend on building mass. Things such as a deadlift or rack pull variation, some kind of squatting movement, leg press, and vertical and horizontal push and pull movements. These are the basics. As for the specifics, it depends on your structure as to which movements you choose. My advice would be to either get professional help with this, or use trial and error and if a movement just feels ‘wrong’, don’t do it.


Hope that was useful


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