In one of my recent blogs, I touched on understanding the basics of a training program. I discussed the areas of main movements, assistance work, accessories, volume, and intensity. Today I’m going to dive in a little bit deeper and go over a few more areas that will have a major impact on the overall success of program.
With any training program, the goal should always be to train optimally. This means that we are always looking to do the correct amount of work in order to produce the stimulus necessary to make progress, but without doing so much that we risk stagnation or injury. The biggest area that has an affect on this is our ability to recover from our training sessions. With recovery, there are many things that need to be taken into consideration. Things such as nutrition and hydration, sleep, stress, stretching, and mobility work are all essential to focus on outside of the gym in order to recover properly and continue to make progress.
However, when we consider our physical presence inside of the gym, we often overlook aspects of our training sessions that play a major role in how well we do or do not recover. The first is our training frequency. Frequency refers to how often we are performing a given workout, exercise, or movement throughout the training week. There are many different philosophies when it comes to this. Some people have great success with performing a particular session only once per week, while others prefer 2-3 times per week. Either way, it’s important to take all factors into consideration when deciding training frequency. If your life outside of the gym is hectic, then you may not be good with a higher frequency. If you are managing your time with proper sleep, nutrition, etc., then a higher training frequency might suit you well.
The second thing to consider is your training duration. This refers to the amount of time that you are physically performing each training session. Depending on your goals and level of experience, your training session can be anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. The thing to remember is that you want your sessions to be as efficient as possible. You should only be taking as much time as needed to complete your exercises and sessions. The longer that you are in the gym, the more time you are taking away from your recovery, and giving less time to things such as nutrition, relaxation, sleep, etc.
The third area to consider is your training intensity. This is something I touched on in my last blog, but today I’m going to explain it in terms of RPE or “Rate of Perceived Exertion”. When incorporating RPE into your training, it is portrayed in the form of a 1-10 scale in order to measure overall difficulty of the previously performed set. For example, an RPE of 10 would mean maximal effort, and no more reps could have been performed. An RPE of 9 would mean that one more rep could have been performed, and 8 would mean that 2 more reps could have been performed, and so on. Although tracking RPE is not absolutely necessary, it is a very easy and beneficial way to track the difficulty of each movement and exercise within a training session, and can help you understand the balance needed within each program. Your intensity or “RPE” should be optimal for your specific goals. If you are always pushing the limits, then it will become harder to recover, and you risk the chance if injury. Frequency, duration, and intensity all go hand-in-hand and play a major role in overall performance. Putting a little extra emphasis on these areas will help to keep you strong, healthy, and progressing within your program.