1. In the end, the only thing that matters is progress
Strength training is a numbers game. In the end, 4 numbers matter: RM load lifted, total load lifted, lean mass and body fat percentage. The first being the most important to ensure progress in the other 3. Especially in the genetically average trainee.
All 4 numbers correlate with each other. And for maximum progress you need to improve all of them.
How to do that?
Luckily in training there is more than one way to reach your goal. The important factor is that your current program allows you to make progress.
How to choose the optimal program?
This is what is called the art and science of program design and coaching. There are many factors to determine which training parameters, exercises and split are the optimal for a given trainee at a given time. The base is a few principles and good observation skills built by years of experience in the gym watching reps and clients. The principles I use at the YPSI to structure training parameters and periodization as well as how I choose exercises for a given trainee is what I teach at the Modules 2 and 3 of the YPSI Semi-Private Internship .
2. In Training for Sports and Body Comp, centering your training around gains in strength for reps is the most efficient way of making progress
“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. So fix the weakest link first.”
Thats the single most important concept for efficiency in program design as the base of training for maximum gains.
A chain is only as strong as is weakest link. That means the weakest link is the link with the greatest potential for gains - locally and globally.
From a global perspective, the weakest link in the absolute majority of trainees and even pro athletes is that they lack strength. Once I did an assessment on an Olympic finalist, she could Close Grip Bench the empty bar for 1 rep and EZ Bar Scottcurl the empty bar for 1 rep. Focusing on building functional hypertrophy and relative strength during the following year led her to the best improvements of her career, winning Gold and Silver at the European Championships.
So increasing strength via hypertrophy, functional hypertrophy and relative strength methods will have the biggest impact on overall gains in size, strength and body fat improvement - which is the basis for improvements in athletic performance.
What does that mean for your training?
Assuming you can Close Grip Barbell Flat Bench Press 120kg for 4 reps. Which approach will allow you to progress numbers faster? And make your chest and upper body grow in size and strength. Doing a giant set of 12 chest exercises OR using high sets and moderate to low reps to increase your benchpress to 150kg for 4 reps?
Mainly choose programs that allow you to make strength gains. Conditioning is important and necessary at the right times for maximum gains. You can only condition the strength and muscle mass you have, though. Focus on areas you can progress in to maximize your progress. The potential for neurological adaptations such as strength gains is far greater than metabolic adaptations such as conditioning.
Plant seeds on fertile soil to maximize your progress…
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Picture: YPSI Client and 12 time Austrian National shotput Champion Martin Gratzer used a progressive and strength oriented training program to get into the best shape of his life…