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Two training secrets that will total change your results

Training Secret #1- pick 10-20 exercises to get really good at and cycle through them for 6 months to a year at a time.

Earlier this week I wrote two articles, one was about my top 10 main lifts and the other way about my top 10 accessory exercises. You can see those blow in the links.

One aspect of training that gets over looked early on is using too much variety without getting really good at an exercise. If you took the 20 exercises I outlined in the articles above and solely focused on getting really good and really strong at those exercises you would achieve great results for years. It’s important to first find out what main exercises promote the greatest strength and carry over to your sport, then you want to figure out what exercises build up your main lift the most. Once you know this you can start adding more variety into your training and introduce the most effective ones when you need to peak your performance. I do this with all our athletes, I first have them master the exercises outlined above or some regression of those exercises. Until they have progressed to performing the highest progression of these top 20 exercises we don’t need to add much more variety.

You can add variety by changing the tempo, position of loading, and sets/reps but the movement will stay the same. An example of this could be performing a dumbbell loaded Bulgarian split squat for 3-4 weeks then changing it to a goblet load or a 4 second eccentric. You could also slightly change the movement from having a rear leg elevated on a bench to being placed on the floor. While it may be a different exercise it’s still in the category of a split stance squat/lunge variation.

Training Secret #2- get the absolute most out of your accessory work.

In the past I may have used too many sets of an exercise or use too much volume overall, while many of the sets could be considered warm up sets or submaximal sets. These sets can be beneficial early on in your training when you’re still learning the form but the sets that stimulate the most growth are the ones that involve strain.

When performing accessory work make sure by the last rep it feels pretty hard. If you get to your last rep and it’s not hard and you haven’t strained yourself yet, keep going until you feel strain. Strain is when you start to feel struggle to get through a repetition, it’s also when it’s the hardest to maintain good form. When straining in an exercise you want to go until 1 rep before your form would break down. When having an indicated rep range try to pick a weight that will give you the best strain in that rep range. For example, if you’re performing a set of 12 the weight you use should be hitting a max at 12-13 reps, you should have 0-2 reps in the tank. It’s also important to note that when I say max I mean technical max that means the maximum amount of reps before your form breaks down.

By doing this instead of needed 3 or more sets in your accessory work you can achieve a lot more results with just 1 or 2 sets. This is also less wear and tear on the joints and less total volume allowing you to recover better and stimulate more strength and muscle gain. Each week you perform the same accessory exercises you can start at the most challenging weight because you will hone in on what weight is challenging and then push the limit by week 3 or 4 of the program. You can go straight to heavier weights because you’re already fully warmed up by the time you finish your main lift and start your accessory work, it’s important to note that this is not a good strategy for your main lift. Warm up to a challenging weight in your main lift before starting your working sets.

Traditionally most of our programs are either 3 weeks or 4 weeks long. For the first 2 weeks the reps stay the same and then the 3rd week and 4th week the reps usually increase. On a Bulgarian split squat it may look like this week 1 and 2 are 2x6/side while week 3 and 4 are 2x8/side and 3x8/side. The goal would be to hit the best weight you can by week 2, maintain that weight on week 3 and try to do an extra set of the weight with the increased reps by week 4. After the 4th week is over you change the variations and start a new program and start the whole cycle over again.

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