Strength Training Routines change faster than any other aspect of exercise and fitness. Each week fitness magazines promote new and different routines designed to blast the fat off you in time for summer, add 3 inches to your chest or boost your sex drive. Each week a dozen new Strength Training Routines are published and each net guru has his own spin on it. Of course each one promises to be the be all and end all.....until next week of course.
In this article I’ll introduce some of the more common Strength Training Routines and explore what they are and how they work. Then I’ll show you why it makes very little sense, and expose the biggest justification for changing your strength training routines as a complete lie.
Strength Training Routines comprise of a series protocols often with a specific goal in mind. For example one of the most common and popular programs is Body For Life. Essentially this routine involves pyramid training. I discuss the different methodologies of Strength Training in this article - Strength Training Methodologies, but for now I’ll take pyramid training as my example. Wikipedia actually has a great definition of a pyramid strength training program....
“An exercise plan in which an exercise or set of exercises are completed in increasing levels according to the multiple used for an exercise and the number of the step (or set) which is being completed.
The first two or three steps are for warming up gradually. The fourth, fifth, and sixth steps are for reaching a point of maximum effort. The final steps are for cooling down gradually.
In a pyramid the weight is first increased, and then decreased over a series of sets. A full pyramid typically includes five sets of approximately 12, 10, 8, 10 and 12 reps. The first two sets are performed with light to medium weights to warm up the muscles. The middle set is the work set, and uses the heaviest weight possible. The last two sets are drop sets, and further fatigue the muscle with progressively lighter weights. This technique provides a combination of volume and intensity, and is therefore popular with bodybuilders. However, the full pyramid may be too much for a beginner to handle, so it is only recommended for experienced trainers...”
Again as mentioned in my article on strength training repetitions this is done to adjust intensity and pre-exhaust muscle fibres leading to muscle stimulation and growth. By increasing the weight and decreasing the reps one builds progressive intensity and thus tires the muscle out with the lighter reps at the start so that the heavier sets strain the muscle and produce growth.
As I’ll explain in a moment, not only is this time consuming, but a very inefficient form of training. Sure you’ll get results, but they be limited and quite quickly you’ll “plateau” – a bodybuilding term meaning that growth and strength no longer improve.
You’ve Got to Mix It up. No, actually, you don't.
This gives rise to the big lie of Strength Training Routines – you have to change them to "shock/confuse" your muscles back in to growth”. I hear this phrase used to justify the never ending stream of magazine articles with the latest routines, the constant inconsistency of the gym goer, and the last chance justification of the frustrated fitness enthusiast. And it’s just not true. It’s not justified and in fact doesn’t even come close to common sense if thought about for one moment.
A muscle can do 3 things. It can get bigger. It can get smaller. It can stay the same size. It cannot, and I repeat cannot somehow through an amazing self aware perception tell if it is being used one way or another. A muscle contracts and a muscle relaxes, that’s it. It cannot under the current understanding of physiology contract in a super special way if you change from a pyramid to Super Sets. Your muscle is still contracting and relaxing in the same way, at the same angle.
What does change is the intensity – and more importantly the consistency, which undermines any objective training view. People change routines because they’re current exercise program fails to progressively increase intensity. As a result progress stops. So they stop training that way and use a “new” equally inefficient program, generally every 6 weeks. And yes they see a difference in strength – for a few weeks and then the same problem strikes.
Here’s what happening. The muscle isn’t being shocked into to new growth. You’re body is just learning a new pattern of movement. It’s the difference between neurological and physical strength, which I explore in this article - Physical vs. Neurological Strength.
The problem with current Strength Training Routines is that they are another patch over the fundamental problem of conventional training methodology – they fail to adequately address the intensity issue. Isometrics on the other hand is scientifically proven to be the most effective and intense form of strength training.
Find out more and check out the incredible results you can achieve using isometrics here – 7 Seconds to Build A Perfect Body, my 7 week course using the Scientifically Proven Method for Transforming Your Body in Just Seconds! Over 250 pages and filled with more than 100 photos it will transform your body from your face down to your toes, sculpting your physique and letting you develop astonishing strength with just seconds of exercise.
No more quick fix Strength Training routines. No more mixing it up and shocking the muscles. Simple highly intense training that produces unquestionable results. That progressively generates increasing intensity so you never plateau.
If you find that your training methodology requires you to change your routine to avoid stagnation and plateau’s, then perhaps you need to look at a different training methodology and not another ultimately ineffective routine.