Old School Body Composition, part 4
part 3 continues...
To ensure progress, in an exercise, increase the workload you perform within your fixed work periods, gradually, over the course of your training sessions, by reducing the intervals. Again, the degree to and speed at which you make such reductions is in accordance with your own judgement, but make them as often as you deem possible. Your goal is to convert your initial 8-rep max into a 12-repetition maximum, and, each time this goal is reached, you re-establish your 8-rep max and begin the cycle anew.
If a novice, test your progress, frequently, say every week or so, as your body will tend to adapt more quickly than someone who has been training longer. But as you draw nearer to the ceiling of your genetic potential, you will need to test less and less frequently, as improvements will tend to come slower. Still, it is a good idea to always have an idea of your current level of development. Upon testing yourself, if you find you are able to perform more than 12 reps with a resistance level that previously represented your eight rep maximum, worry not. Simply test yourself sooner next time.
The recommended intensity range of between one’s eight and 12 rep maximum is neither too heavy nor too light, and has the added advantage of allowing work to be performed at such rates as offer a cardiovascular challenge—but only if you are careful not to allow yourself too much rest between reps. Although strength gains might come more quickly with heavier weights, it is quite possible to make gains in strength at lighter intensities, providing sufficient volume and frequency are present. Additionally, the more moderate intensities proposed, here, will encourage better technical execution of the exercises and reduce the risk of injury as well as mitigate the neurological fatigue that can accompany near-maximal poundages.
As a trainee enters more advanced stages of his development, he may well find it necessary to work through a broader intensity range, in order to ensure continued progress (for reasons beyond the scope of this article)—and feel free to experiment in this regard—but the eight to12 rep max range should serve you well for quite a while.
Conduct your training sessions as often as your rep/interval scheme and sessional workloads will allow, in order to get in as much “practice” as possible. Generally, the briefer the work periods at each session, the more frequently these sessions should take place. The man who trains one hour at each session will need to train less frequently than the man who devotes only 30 minutes to it, simply because the former performs more work at a sitting.
If a certain frequency is found unsustainable or too difficult, due to accumulated fatigue or soreness, sessions may be spaced more widely, perhaps, to every other day. Yet, you should first try increasing the intervals between repetitions to allow for longer rest periods, before abandoning the idea of daily training. Just remember our ancestors worked day in and day out, for hours on end, so it is possible. Conversely, if progress slows or comes to a halt and fatigue or overtraining does not seem an issue, session frequency may need to be increased, potentially even to multiple times a day—especially if your work periods and sessions are particularly brief.
As a general guideline, you may find a 20 minute work period, for each exercise, to be ideal, as this will strike a happy medium in effectively taxing both muscular and cardio-respiratory systems and provide a sufficiently large workload each session to prevent the need for training more than once a day. Of course, these recommendations assume you are working at the intensity levels proposed. Higher intensities can force training frequency and work periods to drop drastically and would, thus, shift the parameters.
The reader now has at his disposal the means to attain no small measure of strength and general physical fitness, and so combat excess weight, weakness, and maintain and improve the results of any obesity treatment procedures he might have undergone. He is encouraged to go forth and pay tribute to his ancestors and claim the inheritance of vitality that is his by birth right. And the key to that vitality is work!
Justa, Steve (1998) Rock, Iron, Steel. Salt Lake City: Iron Mind Enterprises, Inc.: Nevada City, CA.
Wiggins, Matt (2002) Doubles and Singles: How the Ordinary Become Extraordinary. http://www.workingclassfitness.com/