5 Ways to progress your strength training program
It’ easy to see progress in your first few months of a new workout program. If you haven’t exercised for an extended period of time any exercise will induce positive change. However, plateau’s and staleness start to creep in around month two or three and it becomes tougher to keep progress at the same level. Doing the same workout every week is comfortable for many, but frustration starts to mount when there is no change in a routine. No matter where you are in a workout program, it’s important to make some sort of improvement from week to week. At CFP we make sure every member is doing something to improve from their previous workout. While we change exercise selection every 4-6 weeks, smaller variables within each workout are being changed daily to keep progress moving in the right direction. Here are 5 ways to progress your strength training program on a weekly basis. *Note: From workout to workout just alter 1-2 of these variables. Trying to change all five of these variables every workout can lead to overtraining and injury.* 1) Decrease rest time – The amount of time you rest in between exercises and circuits can greatly affect the difficulty of the workout. If your rest time between circuits is 90 seconds, reduce that time by 5-10 seconds the following week. Same rule applies to your time between exercises. 2) Increase weight – If your new to an exercise this variable works great. Depending on the movement, adding 1-10 pounds each week will supply a new stimulus to the working muscles and lead to progress. However, if you have exercised for an extended period of time you know that you just can’t continue to increase weight for the rest of your life. This variable becomes slower over time and other factors need to be used (see #4). 3) Increase reps – Similar to #2, this will result in progress if your performing an exercise that is new to your program. Increasing reps is also corelated with adjusting weight. For example, if you adjust reps one week, then adjust your repetitions the following week. It’s not recommended to increase reps and weights for the same workout. Strive to increase 1-2 repetitions per week (once you reach 15+ reps, more weight or a harder exercise needs to be implemented). 4) Advance to a more difficult exercise – This variable is used every 4-6 weeks when a new workout program is developed, rather than every week. New exercise selection is appropriate when increasing repetitions and/or weight is not effective. Stepping outside of your comfort zone and learning a new exercise can be difficult, but expanding your workouts will lead to continued progress. 5) Increase time under tension – Also known at “TUT”, time under tension is the length of time the muscle is doing work. Research has shown that muscle gain is greatest at a TUT of 40+ seconds. In other words, the targeted muscles are doing continuous work for 40 seconds or more. Incorporating this variable can be done by adding more reps (see #3), or slowing down the lifting and lowering of the weight.