In part 1 we talked about WHY it’s important to include strength training in your fitness regimen. Now it’s time to learn how. One of the simplest, yet extremely effective, methods is called a “Linear Progression”. Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy; you’re going to be challenged. In part 3 we’ll conclude the series with a free 12 Week Sample Program. Use it wherever you’re training and add as much as 90 pounds to your squat in 12 Weeks!
Why’s it called a linear progression? Simply because you’re going to keep increasing the weight you’re using at a constant rate week after week. If we plotted your training sessions on a graph with the date on the X-axis and the weight used on the y-axis the outcome would be linear, or a straight line.
Developing a Base Level of Strength- The Nerd Train has Arrived.
A linear progression will take you a LONG way in developing strength. It serves as the foundation upon which athleticism and fitness are built. More importantly everyday tasks like carrying your kids or your groceries gets a heck of a lot easier. Most important of all, it keeps you out of the nursing home.
How does it work? For the first 7-9 weeks your body will make adaptations to its Central Nervous System (CNS). Very early in the program (until week 2 or 3) you’ll develop Inter–muscular coordination. For example, the muscles that make up your gluteal group begin communicating with your hamstrings, meanwhile your hamstrings are talking with your spinal erectors.
Understanding how your body works to stay balanced (so you don’t fall over) and recruit the proper muscles in the correct order (to maximize potential power output) is the goal of the first 3 weeks. The best part? As long as you’re consistent with your training your body will figure out how to balance itself. That said, having a coach to fix any underlying issues or poor movement patterns is always recommended.
After week 3 the focus of your body shifts from Inter-muscular coordination to Intra-muscular coordination. This type of CNS adaptation controls the efficiency and intensity of muscle fibers within a muscle group to produce a movement pattern accurately and powerfully. For example, when you start week 4 you might only have the ability to contract 50% of the muscle tissue in a given group. By week 6 you could be at 75%. By the end of week 9 your intra-muscular coordination will begin to plateau, and then it’s time for hypertrophy.
Hypertrophy is simply increasing the cross-sectional area of a muscle. Meaning you get bigger (not massive ladies, I promise. You won’t get big or “bulky” overnight OR by mistake, think of it as muscle tone.), and therefore stronger. Once your muscle understands how to communicate properly it can begin the task of increasing in size as the demands placed upon it also increase.
A Theoretical Strength Training Template
In Part 3 we’ll discuss how to choose a starting weight for your linear progression. We’ll also go over the rep scheme, and talk about a few different “What-If” scenarios. Finally we’ll give you a free downloadable spreadsheet so you can just plug in your starting weight and have the next 12 weeks of strength training written for you!