One of the more common things people ask me when they first start working out is how to increase the intensity of their lifting. The answer is multi-faceted and deserves a careful examination because the intensity of your workouts will produce results in a proportionate fashion.
First you will need an understanding of periodization. This is simply the way you organize your workout. This involves both the daily workouts you do and how they are organized as well as the schedule you use for your workouts.
The idea is to slowly increase the difficulty of your training. You push your body to its upper limits and then you take a step back and let it catch up with you. This is a principle I learned from Optimum Anabolics by Jeff Anderson. You actually gain more muscle in the easier weeks because your body is continuing to adapt to the heavier weeks. The fact is that as you push your body it starts to expect it. It will then even respond to lighter weights in the same manner as heavier weights, but only for a short period of time.
One way to push your body to the limit is to use volume loading. This can be as simple as just increasing by 1 the number of sets you do each week. You have to listen to your body carefully. You are going to be pushing it harder and harder as you add sets. Should you feel fatigued, you'd back down and take it easier to allow your body to catch up.
The next way to push your body to the limit is to use frequency loading. If you wanted to rotate your frequency through a series of harder and harder frequencies, you'd start out during week 1 doing 2 workouts a week. In each subsequent week you'd add a workout. Finally, you would back down and let your body catch up when you had hit 5 to 7 workouts in a week.
The basic measurement of frequency is the number of training sessions for a given muscle group or lift per unit of time (ie. a week, a month, etc.). Really, the key to frequency is recovery time. I personally recover pretty fast. I am generally fully recovered in 48 hours. I've been following a 3 day a week training program where I cycle through my two workouts as follows:
Sunday — Workout A
Tuesday — Workout B
Thursday — Workout A
Sunday — Workout B
Tuesday — Workout A
Thursday — Workout B
That is giving me 96 hours of rest between workouts. What I've discovered is I am fully recovered on Tuesday from the workout I did on Sunday. This wasn't always the case for me. However, in the interest of listening to my body, this is why I'm increasing my frequency. My body is ready to be pushed harder and so I'm listening to it. I am upping my frequency to 4 workouts a week.
The premise behind upping my frequency is that I am going to push my muscles harder and they will grow more. I will need to pay extra special attention to my body's need for rest during this time period. However, by upping the frequency and using a volume loading scheme (as explained above) I am expecting even greater gains moving forward.
|Week Begins 2/10/2008|
|M1 *||5:30 a.m.||3:30 a.m.||3:30 a.m.||3:30 a.m.||3:30 a.m.||3:30 a.m.||5:30 a.m.|
|M2 *||8:30 a.m.||6:30 a.m.||6:30 a.m.||6:30 a.m.||6:30 a.m.||6:30 a.m.||8:30 a.m.|
|M3 *||11:30 a.m.||9:30 a.m.||9:30 a.m.||9:30 a.m.||9:30 a.m.||9:30 a.m.||11:30 a.m.|
|M4 *||2:30 p.m.||12:30 p.m.||12:30 p.m.||12:30 p.m.||12:30 p.m.||12:30 p.m.||2:30 p.m.|
|M5 *||5:30 p.m.||3:30 p.m.||3:30 p.m.||3:30 p.m.||3:30 p.m.||3:30 p.m.||5:30 p.m.|
|M6 *||7:30 p.m.||6:30 p.m.||6:30 p.m.||6:30 p.m.||6:30 p.m.||6:30 p.m.||7:30 p.m.|
|Abs *||N/A for||FYA||FYA||N/A||FYA||FYA||N/A|
|Water *||194 oz||220 oz||194 oz|
|Post-workout nutrition *||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Pre-sleep nutrition *||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Cals within 5% (+/-) *||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Mission 2 Total Complete||118||133||147|
|Mission 2 Total Possible||120||135||150|
|* = Counts towards total|
My M4 was late by 30 minutes so I gave myself a red mark for that meal. All other areas went well.
I had asked a question on the Burn the Fat Inner Circle forum about the analysis of my results from the past 2 weeks. I got an answer from Tom Venuto himself. His advice was to see what results I produce this week. If my fat percentage increases again I am to cut my calories. Thus, my plan is to cut my calories by 5% each day if I do gain fat this week (for the second week in a row).
|Mission 2: Day 9 of 100|
|Meal/Training Plan: Real-time accountability|
|Day 9: February 11, 2008|
|5:30 a.m.||Meal 1: Protein shake and oatmeal (x2 portion) and 3 glasses of water|
|5:30 a.m.||Supplements: Animal Pak, Glucosamine Chondroiten, calcium, chromium, glutamine, BCAAs|
|6:00 a.m.||Workout: Lifting and 6 glasses of water|
|6:30 a.m.||Supplements: Protein shake, BCAAs, glutamine|
|8:30 a.m.||Meal 2: Chicken breast, oatmeal, 10 baby carrots and 3 glasses of water|
|11:30 a.m.||Meal 3: Chicken breast, 10 baby carrots, oatmeal and large salad and 3 glasses of water|
|2:30 p.m.||Meal 4: Chicken breast (1-1/2), 15 baby carrots, oatmeal and large salad and 3 glasses of water|
|5:30 p.m.||Meal 5: Chicken breast, 10 baby carrots, large salad and 3 glasses of water|
|7:30 p.m.||Meal 6: Chicken breast, brocolli, large salad and 3 glasses of water|
|8:30 p.m.||Supplements: Casein protein shake, glutamine, calcium and 3 glasses of water|
|Exercise||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3||Set 4||Set 5|
|Heels-raised back squat, 1-1/4||225 x 8||225 x 8||225 x 8||225 x 8||225 x 8|
|Bulgarian split deadlift||65 x 8||65 x 8||65 x 8||65 x 10||65 x 10|
|Split good morning||65 x 8||65 x 8||65 x 10||65 x 11||65 x 12|
This was a fantastic workout today. I am still getting the feel for both the Bulgarian split deadlift and the Split good morning, so I have a much lower weight on those than I'm sure I'm capable of.
Until tomorrow…GET BACK TO LIFTING!