Game Plan: What is yours?

Game Plan: What is yours?

Dec 26, 2013

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
― Benjamin Franklin

Let’s be honest for a second. Reflect on your last training session. Did you go into the gym with a concrete plan, or was the session improvised? Look back to your last training cycle as a whole. Before beginning your training cycle, did you plan out the next 10, 12, or more weeks in their entirety, or was every day taken on the fly? Do you even run a training cycle/regiment?

If every day you go into the gym with no plan other than what movements you will be doing that day, then this article is for you. Believe it or not there is a very large number of people, seemingly wondering around in the dark, showing up just putting on random weights and lifting them for random reps every day. There is no rhyme or reason to the madness, just putting on weight in 45lb plate increments and working up to a solid single and calling it a day. Another approach some lifters take includes having a plan for that day, but no thought as to how that day fits into the grand scheme of things. It is almost as if they close their eyes and point to paper, randomly selecting the number of sets, reps, and percentage. Sure you know what you are doing that day, but how is that different or the same compared to what you are doing next week, or 3 weeks after that?

Plan Photo

The problem with not having a game plan, is missing out on opportunities for strength gains. Being unorganized gives way to injury and prevents you from working at appropriate work loads, both being huge limiting factors in your ability to grow and become stronger. Without a plan, it can be real easy to stop short a set or rep at a corresponding intensity, thus limiting work load.

Working hard will only get you so far. Working smarter will get you the rest of the way. Blood, sweat, and tears can only get you so far, but eventually there will have to be some long-term, methodical planning on your part to take you to the level you want to be. I know far too many people that are hitting 1RM PR lifts in training as far as 5 weeks out from their competition. 1RMs are for the competition, not for weekly routine. Plan your training so that when meet day comes you are primed and ready to hit the biggest number possible. Sure you feel like a “beast” hitting a nice single and it makes you feel strong, but essentially you are depriving yourself of precious volume that is essential for laying down the foundation for hitting PRs when it matters. More strength gains are made in the 4-6 rep range in comparison to 1-2 rep range because of the much higher volume. This is not to say the 1-2 rep range is not important in hitting big numbers. High Intensity (1-2reps) is very important in hitting the big numbers strength gains from higher volume training has prepared you for, it just needs to be implemented at the proper time in a planned regiment. The higher intensity work sets allow for the preparation of the central nervous system to handle max attempts at the competition, where as higher volume training provides the means to actually get stronger. The trick lies with how exactly to utilize the two forms of training together and plan a program that is going to best prepare you for your competition.

Come up with a long term plan. Do not do it in your head, write it down and stick to it. There are many different training programs out there, and most work, the trick is figuring out which works best for you. There is Reactive Training Systems (RTS), Sheiko, the Cube Method, Smolov, and many more. Do some research, and make an educated decision as to which you are going to do for the next several months, and evaluate your findings until you find what works best for you. What is important is that you get a plan or program that has long term training that is thought out, mapped out, and carried out. The third part relies on you. Have the discipline to follow the program, and trust in the methodology. Some programs require working off percentages of set maxes, others use RPEs (rating of perceived exertion) or various other ways of gauging intensity, but regardless of what is used, be honest with yourself and be disciplined enough to carry out what is programmed. Many of these programs have spreadsheets that can be found online, or if it is within your financial means, some of the creators of these programs offer personalized training specifically for you. Either way programming is readily available, but it is up to you to take the time to research, select, and implement a plan. I would not suggest trying to write your own plan unless you are thoroughly educated (not necessarily formally) in exercise physiology or a related field, and have a foundation and understanding of the concepts integral to strength training. Even the best powerlifters in the world follow programming set by the methods mentioned above, or from other qualified professionals.

Make 2014 your best year of lifting yet. Take the effort to plan things out over the course of the several months leading to your next competition and see the difference. Eventually there becomes a point where showing up to the gym and lifting what you feel like that day is not enough. Ditch the randomness that is associated with day to day lifting, and get a game plan together.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you. I hope everyone has had a blessed holiday season, and I pray blessings and gains for 2014!

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

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