Friday, August 17, 2012

Try and Calibrate: Volume and Load

Volume and load right where it needs to be.

As I mentioned in the previous installment of try and calibrate, you should pick a lifting program/philosophy and stick to it. As long as you are making gains on the same program, you should not go ADD on your programming. Alas, we feel the need to change shit up, and that is where we get into trouble. The simple solution is to try the same movements in a different order, or slowly introduce 1 element to see if it fits.

Let me be clear, this is not an attempt at muscle confusion. The mere idea that muscles can be confused (which is broadcasted in happy letters in LA Fitness every 5 minutes on the treadmill screen) makes me wish I had a diabetes gun. When I am trying to level up, I am trying to do 2 things (and not always at the same time):

1. Increase volume
2. Increase load

I like to look at these progressive overload methods in different terms as well:

1. Punishment
2. Reward

If I fail to reach my goal one week, I punish myself by adding volume in some way until I am clear to increase the load.

For example,
Last week's squat top set and back off sets:

Although I reached my goal of 315x2, the second rep was an ugly grind. I was in no way ready to progress to 320x2. Because I failed to increase the load from one week to the next, I increased the volume this week as a punishment.

This week:
315x2 (solid)

Obviously this is a very slight change from last week, but it offers me the ability to move forward bit by bit without repeating the same workout. Because I hit every rep I wanted to hit, next week will look like this:


The load is increased on both ends, and the volume drops back down to normal.

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