What’s your training age?

Here is the breakdown and why it’s important for you to know.

0 - 6 months (Novice) - You’re a newbie. Pretty much anything you do will get you stronger. If you bike, it could potentially allow you to squat more weight. If you were to do 20 reps of bicep curls, it might help you with your chin ups. Almost anything will work! For a novice, the guiding principles are: train 2-4x per week on a consistent basis while rotating through the compound lifts. Make sets harder on a weekly basis (by adding weight). You’ll find that you can keep adding weight to the bar as long as the jumps are not too aggressive. A good guideline for weight increases is 5-10 lbs. on upper body exercises, 10-20lbs. on lower body exercises. When you can no longer consistently add weight to the bar you have entered the intermediate phase.  

6 months – 5 years (Intermediate) – You’re past the newbie stage and now you need to be more systematic about your programming. Your exercise selection needs to be specific to achieve a desired effect. For example, if you would like your deadlift to improve, you need to be training the deadlift (on a weekly basis) and using heavy training weights at 5 reps and below. Accessory movements should be specific as well - mimicking the range of motion you want to improve, for example: block pulls for deadlifts, board presses for bench press, etc. Progress will not come as quickly as it did in the Novice phase and the accumulative stress will necessitate periodic deloads. Most serious trainees who compete in a sport (outside of competitive strength sports: powerlifting, Olympic lifting, strongman, etc.) will remain in this stage because they will need to put their sport first. Strength training becomes secondary and is the primary focus only in the off season.   

5+ years (Advanced) – Most people never get here. The trainees here need an intelligently designed, periodized program that manages stress and fatigue in a way that allows progress not from session to session basis, but across meso and macrocycles. The rule of diminishing returns applies to the fullest effect.

As a trainee, you must consider where you are in this spectrum and reap as much gains from it as possible. Being a novice on an advanced program will not yield greater results. Being on the right kind of program for your training age will yield the best results.

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A few words on injuries:

Occasionally, training is dictated by working around setbacks. It is very common to have aches, pains, and sometimes even injuries. If doing sets of 5 hurt, do sets of 4 instead. If singles are all you can do, do singles (not to say increase the weight but try keeping the weight the same and just do the volume with singles – so instead of 3x5, 15x1).  Sometimes you need to take the movement pattern out all together to allow full recovery. Maybe 4 weeks, maybe 8 weeks, maybe even 6 months. When you take the movement pattern out, find similar ones that allow the same muscles to be worked. For example: hip pain during squatting could be replaced with box squats or even with hex bar deadlift. At that point you can approach that movement like a novice and milk as much from it using the novice programming. 

If you need help programming contact us at East Ave Barbell.

Chris Harris