Strength and Conditioning

Appropriate Rest Ratio's for Strength Training

Lift weights, get stronger. The equation is simple, right?

Well, there is more to it than that.

Strength training comes in several different packages that rely on the application of appropriate sets, reps, and rest. Your specific goal for strength training (I want to get huge, I want to be stronger, I want to create more power) needs to be defined, and then apply the appropriate strength training parameters to see real progress.

Before you read any further, know this: If you are a novice lifter (roughly one year or less of regular strength training), just about any kind of strength training you do is going to make you stronger. Your body is rapidly adapting to the demands you’ve imposed upon it, because you’ve never put these stressors on it before.

The information below will apply more directly to the intermediate to advanced lifters who use the principles of assessment based progressions and Specific Adaption to Imposed Demand (SAID).

Understanding Basic Strength Training Rep Schemes

The chart below shows the effect of reps on the various strength developments. We’ll break is down a little further. (Note: These rep ranges are averages across a wide sample base. It’s widely accepted as a good guideline, but your specific genetic make-up also plays a role in how your body reacts and adapts.)

NSCA Basics of Strength Training

NSCA Basics of Strength Training

Strength & Power - This means training to be able to lift the maximum amount of weight, or training to generate the maximum amount of power. Weight percentages are not the same for strength and power, but the rep scheme is generally the same. (Max strength = 80-95% 1RM, Max Power = 60-75% 1RM)

Ideal Rep Range for Strength is 1-8 reps for each set. Ideal rep range for Power is 1-5 reps for each set.

Hypertrophy - This is the growth at the cellular level of your muscle. While maximal strength will increase muscle size, it’s significantly less than hypertrophy training. Inversely, hypertrophy training will get you stronger, but not at the same rate as maximal strength/power training. 70% 1RM is the sweet spot for hypertrophy training, although it can go up or down dependent on the amount of reps in each set (more reps = less weight, less reps = more weight).

Ideal rep range for Hypertrophy is 8-13

Muscular Endurance - This allows your musculature to become more resistant to fatigue over longer periods of time. You’ll often see this style of strength training applied to endurance athletes such as runners and cyclists, whose training and competition are over much longer periods of time. The musculature is trained to clear lactate/acidosis at a faster rate, delaying and reducing fatigue. Loading for muscular endurance is much lighter - around 50% 1RM.

Ideal rep range for Muscular Endurance is 13+ reps per set.

How Long to Rest Between Sets?

The amount of rest you take between sets plays an important role in developing whichever version of strength you’re developing. The rest period is determined by its relationship with the energy system that is being harnessed to actually fuel your body to lift the weight.

Strength & Power - For lower rep, heavier load lifting, your body relies on the Adenosine Triphosphate Phosphocreatine System (ATP-PC). This fuels your body for very short duration, explosive movements. For strength training, we want to allow the body to fully recover so that you’re able to fully contract your musculature to lift the heavy load.

Ideally, take 3 minutes between sets for strength/power training.

Hypertrophy - As we shift to hypertrophy training, a few things shift. First, we now have of a mix of ATP-PC and Glycolytic energy systems fueling your body. While ATP is good for 10-15 seconds of body jet fuel, the glycolytic energy system takes over after that to provide the majority of the energy (until you shift to a aerobic state). With both energy systems in the mix, you need less rest time. Additionally, less rest time during hypertrophy training has a excellent anabolic hormonal response which triggers muscle growth.

Ideal rest for hypertrophy training is 1-2 minutes

Muscular Endurance - Because these sets will take much more time, we’re now drawing energy in a mix of glycolytic and aerobic. Aerobic energy systems can be utilized for much longer since it oxygen based, which is readily and constantly available (Think of the difference of your pace in a 200m sprint and a 5 mile run). Since we’re training the body to reduce acidosis/lactate, we want to shorten the rest period even further to enhance the results.

Ideal rest for muscular endurance 1:1 work:rest. So if your set took 45 seconds, take between 45 seconds-60 seconds of rest.

Takeaways

Strength training can truly be fine tuned to provide the adaption that you want your body to make, but you need the information to get it there. The key to all of this information is utilizing a progression to continuously challenge your body to adapt.

Will you not see any results if you take 2 minutes instead of 3 minutes for strength training? No… this doesn’t need to be exact unless you are really fine tuning your strength for a powerlifting meet or a bodybuilding show. The information above should give a tool to put in your tool belt to enhance your training and optimize work.

Enjoy nice training!

Cycle Overview: Triphasic Strength

  • FOCUS: STRENGTH & POWER DEVELOPMENT

  • SECONDARY: AEROBIC ENDURANCE & WORK CAPACITY

Cycle Overview:

This ten week, 5x/week cycle will focus on developing strength utilizing a strength progression based on the research of collegiate strength and conditioning coach, Cal Dietz. This cycle is broken into three separate training blocks, each focusing on a specific type of muscle contraction.

Block 1 focuses on eccentric muscle contractions, with a specifically timed slow descent during the lift, followed by explosively coming out of the bottom of the lift.

Block 2 focuses on the isometric muscle contractions, holding at the bottom of the lift for a specific amount of time before lifting the weight back up.

Block 3 focuses on concentric movements, which is the ‘traditional’ style of lifting where you descend normally and come out of the bottom of the lift rapidly with no pause. Sounds complicated? It’s not – the programming breaks it all down for you.

The cycle will assess your strength via a 1RM Hang Squat Clean, 3RM Back Squat, and 3RM Bench Press. You will assess once at the beginning of the cycle, and at the very end. We will focus on strength 3x/week, as well as 1x work capacity efforts and 1x aerobic endurance/trunk strength effort to keep your conditioning in check. This will be a challenging cycle, and it relies on following a set of protocols outlined below to maximize the work. Don’t go full meathead Week 1 - follow the training techniques below and you’ll see outstanding results, no matter your lifting experience

  • Be Smart on Your Assessment

Your reps on the strength assessments should be damn near perfect. No starfishing on the cleans, no bent back on the squats, no back arch on the bench. Strong, solid, perfect reps!

  • Eccentric, Isometric, Concentric

If you don’t quite understand what this stuff means, CLICK HERE to watch a video on these three types of muscle contractions. The eccentric & isometric lifts are especially demanding – always use a spotter!!

  • Sets/Reps & Prescribed Loading

The sets/reps prescribed are at your working load. Take as rounds as needed to work up to that load, and then complete the programming. 

  • Failing Reps & Resets

If you complete all sets and reps as prescribed, continue following the prescribed progression on the next session. If you fail on 1-2 reps of the total prescribed, use that same load for the next session.  

  • Does Your Hang Squat Clean Suck?

If you’re not confident in performing a Hang Squat Clean, I want you to do Hang Power Clean’s instead. Don’t worry - you’re not missing… as you’ll still generate the same amount (or more) of power per lift with a Hang Power Clean. 


Weekly Break Down:

  • Mon: Strength 

  • Tues: Aerobic + Trunk Strength

  • Wed: Strength

  • Thurs: Work Capacity + Trunk Strength

  • Fri: Strength 

Quick FAQ’s

  • All exercises are linked to demo videos. Click and watch if you’re unfamiliar. 

  • Equipment: This is a gym plan. You’ll need access to a squat racks, bumper plates, barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, etc. 


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Why You Need The Deload Week

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By Kellie Rongo

As much as we love to train hard and heavy day in and day out, it is easy to forget the benefits of a deload week and how important it really is in order to keep progressing and getting the gains we’re all here for. 

What does “deload” or “deload week” mean? 

A deload is a period of time, usually 4-7 days, that is worked into your training regime where training frequency, intensity and weights lifted are lowered substantially to help you and your body adapt and recover properly.


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Typically this will be every 6-10 weeks, depending on what type of training you’re doing. This does not mean you have to sit your ass on the couch for a week eating potato chips and drinking beer; quite frankly, that’s the last thing we want you to do during a deload. Staying active is super important during these times. Of course, if your body is telling to you be lazy as hell for a day, have at it. Those days are good sometimes, too, but you shouldn’t need them all too often.

Side note: Taking a few days off from the gym every 6-10 weeks will NOT make you weaker. You will not wither away to nothing like you may feel/think. I promise.

With all of that being said, listen up…

No Recovery = No Adapting = Performance Decline. Go back and read that again. 100% truth.

You can not train at 80-90% of your max effort like we have been for the last 8 weeks and still reap the max benefits of your training program. If you think about it, it makes total sense. We train hard using what is called the overload principle so that we can get these big gains, but each time we train that hard, we have to remember that we are intentionally putting stress on our body so that we can get stronger/faster/whatever, which will inevitably cause fatigue.

If you do not recover from this fatigue properly, you will not be lifting as heavy as you want to be during your daily training, which totally defeats the purpose. After all, the goal is to continuously get better at whatever you’re working on and we certainly don’t want to regress. But really, all of this stuff mentioned is OK; we want to work hard enough to be tired, we want our muscles and even our minds to be tired, we just have to take the time to allow our body to adapt to this all this stress we are putting on it.

Benefits of deload recovery periods include…

  1. Increased motivation to train hard again! This is a big deal so I made it #1. Personally, if I take a few days off from the gym or train light for a few days, I am BEYOND ready to train hard again after that. I know this is the case for most of you, too. You feel hungry again. There is nothing like resting up, allowing yourself to kind of crave that hard training again, and coming back to crush it.

  2. You SHOULD be and probably will be stronger after a deload period. If you do this every 6-10 weeks, you will train harder during those weeks, recover well after, and your “baseline” should be higher than when you started. (A good example of this is when we finish a cycle at LOD, take a few lighter training days + a weekend, then come back for our first assessments for the next cycle and typically feel strong, motivated, and ready to kill the next 6-8 weeks of work.)

  3. Injury risk goes down. I’m sure with how many times I’ve said recover and adapt in this post, you already get the point of this one. If you’re extremely fatigued, you probably won’t move as well, form may break down, muscles, tendons, ligaments, other supportive tissues, etc. will be taking a beating. This means your chances of getting hurt go up. Injuries suck, so we want to do the best we can to prevent them.

  4. Give yourself a mental break every so often. Take a breather. Change up your day in, day out routine a little. It’s just good for the soul. :)

  5. Preventing body or mind burnout- You never want to allow yourself to get to the point of burnout where you’re feeling like crap, not even wanting to hit the gym, feeling unmotivated, and not performing well in the gym and maybe in other parts of your life, too. If you’ve never felt this, that’s good. Eventually you’ll get there if you have the “I don’t take breaks from the gym” attitude.

I’m sure there’s a longer list of benefits but these are some very important ones. Of course, everyone’s needs for a break in training are different, but always remember to listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Small/nagging injuries, lack of motivation and not hitting the numbers you’re supposed to hit are all good signs that it’s time to deload. Manage your training well so you can get the maximum benefits from all the hard work you put in!

Maximal Strength versus Relative Strength

The chase for a higher max weight lift is one of the main motivators for many (especially men) when they enter the gym for the first time. Getting the big plates on the barbell for a Bench Press for the first time is a big deal.

It feels good, like your part of an exclusive club. Look over at the weaklings and chuckle to yourself as they struggle with peasant weight. You are strong(er), they are weak(er). 

This cycle will rinse and repeat until oblivion... working up to new 1-Rep Max's over time, as the increases get incrementally smaller. You'll find new methods from the likes of Louis Simmons, Fred Hatfield, etc. The chase continues.

This approach isn't wrong - Powerlifters, Olympic Weightlifters, and gym rats chasing a heavy deadlift (or whatever lift) are all impressive beasts who have dedicated themselves to the pursuit of maximal strength, or the total amount of force an athlete can produce, regardless of bodyweight or size.

Watching Julius Bjornsson (The Mountain from Game of Thrones) set the world record deadlift at 472kg (1,041 lbs) is for lack a better term, fucking nuts.

 

However...

Here at LOD Athlete, I don't care about your maximal strength

The metric I prefer when assessing an athlete who walks into the gym is relative strength, or strength in comparison to bodyweight. A 150 lbs. athlete who can deadlift 300 lbs has a stronger relative strength base than a 250 lbs. athlete who can deadlift 400 lbs.

The 150lbs athlete can likely run/jump/change direction disproportionately better than the 250 lbs. athlete. He also is likely more resilient against injury and has a better aerobic base. 

To put it simply, a good level of relative strength lends itself to performance and health, while maximal strength generally just means you can lift heavier things than everyone else. 

This comes with a few caveats:

  • Is the athlete at a healthy weight for their pursuit and/or health?

This applies if the athlete is significantly overweight or underweight. Those who are overweight need to focus on bringing weight levels down first (nutrition adjustment) and those who are underweight need to bring it up (nutrition adjustment). For these folks, relative strength is a secondary concern. 

  • What is the main driver for walking into the gym?

Some folks want to pursue maximal strength. That's great - it's a hard, long road that requires dedication, lots of eating, and a good coach. That being said, I'm not a Powerlifting or Oly Weightlifting coach. I'd recommend you go elsewhere for someone who specializes in it and wish you luck!

  • How do they move?

If an athlete has good relative strength on paper, but their movement patterns suck, we need to reset. Tuck away your pride and work on the mechanics of the lifts. You're selling yourself short with partial range of motion reps and janky back squats. Do it right, get stronger, and profit.

We want to create better all-around athletes here who are stronger, faster, and better looking naked. This is a 360-degree approach to strength and conditioning, not a specialization. For me, relative strength is a superior method of working towards those goals.

Numbers don't matter, performance does. Keep this is mind next time you're tempted to add that extra 10lbs on max day when your back already looks like a dead accordian. 

 

Notes from the Latest Gym-Based Endurance Cycle "Big L"

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We're finishing up the last week of our latest cycle, "Big L." The focus during this 5-week cycle was to develop aerobic endurance - a modality that is often forgotten in the age of high-intensity interval training. 

During this cycle we began with 40 minutes of constant effort training sessions, 3x/week. We progressed the time to 50 minutes, and then finally 60 minutes over the course of four weeks. The sessions were split into two to three training segments, normally around 15-20 minutes each. 

The remaining two days were focused on developing a baseline on simple speed and agility drills (teaching the body proper mechanics) as well as lower body, single limb strength and upper body pulling strength. 

The important note for athlete's during this cycle is to find a steady, maintainable pace for the duration of the training session. We don't want you redlining out of the gates and falling flat on your face 15 minutes in. 65-75% effort (which normally runs parallel to your heart rate) is what we're looking for.

The cue was to be able to speak a full sentence at any given moment during the training session. If the sentence is broken up because you're out of breath, you need to slow down. Able to speak a paragraph without stopping? Pick up the pace. 

Aerobic work (which utilizes the oxidative system almost entirely past the 30-40 minute mark) has several benefits.

  • Increased efficiency & recovery

According to the to National Strength and Conditioning Association, "Prolonged activities have been reported to induce muscle glycogen depletion and to acutely increase the rate of fat metabolism, while chronically leading to an increase in stroke volume, mitochondrial density, and a more efficient oxidative capacity." These traits are a important component to the 360 degree perspective on fitness. Increase your body's ability to do work by developing the systems that charge it, which in turn allows for a decrease in the amount of time needed to recover.

  • Increased volume of work

The construct of the sessions allows us to increase the total volume of work accomplished without overtaxing the musculoskeletal system. We use light loading split between upper body, lower body, and total body work in conjunction with running and step ups. We don't use a ton of squatting movements if you look at the cycle as a whole - super high rep squatting with lightweight simply adds a stress to the joint that isn't necessary to accomplish the goals of the cycle. 

  • Mental Fortitude

Some things in life just take longer than 15-20 minutes. Anecdotally I've found athletes hit a mental wall somewhere around the 30 minute mark. Pushing through that wall develops a sense of accomplishment beyond what you thought you were capable of. Most of us here in the gym aren't training for the olympics or an ultramarathon, but knowing you can consistently work hard over a progressively longer period of time gives a taste of the hard life that we might not otherwise get. 

This was an undoubtedly hard cycle, which is why it's only 5 weeks long (including a deload week). Keep grinding - it'll pay off. 

-Charlie

Want to start training online? Check out our Daily Programming online HERE. 30-day guarantee that you'll dig it, or your money back. 

Blogs and Podcasts to Follow

Blogs and Podcasts to Follow

Beneath the layer of ridiculous and hateful words on Facebook, Instagram, or the Youtube comments section, the internet is a goldmine of information. 

Specific to the strength and conditioning world, nearly every well-respected coach has a blog, articles, and/or a podcast which presents and exchanges information on training. It's a hell of a resource for up-and-comers like myself.

Below is the list of websites or podcasts that I pay attention to in order to gain new information and insights.

General Physical Preparation - Train Smarter, Not Harder

General Physical Preparation - Train Smarter, Not Harder

General physical preparation is a common term in all facets of strength and conditioning - it’s simply the development of a well-rounded athlete across the spectrum of strength, conditioning, speed, and agility.

What seems to be frequently misconstrued in many functional fitness facilities is the different brush strokes that create the portrait of general physical preparation and how to properly develop it.

Let's talk specifically about the conditioning side

The Hardest Conditioning Circuit I've Ever Done - The Litvinov Workout

The Hardest Conditioning Circuit I've Ever Done - The Litvinov Workout

Variations of the Litvinov Workout are the hardest, short duration conditioning circuits I've ever done. What is it you ask? Well, here it is...

Lift a heavy compound movement for multiple reps, then sprint 50-400m. Repeat 2-3 times. Sounds simple right? Go try it. I'll wait.

Brutal, right? Legs feel like sand and lungs are on fire? Same here. Now lets get in to it.

Ode to Bodybuilding

Ode to Bodybuilding

My first strength and conditioning book was a wrinkled and yellowed hand me down from my step-dad, authored by some guy named Joe Weider. The same Joe Weider who took Arnold schwarzenegger and the sport of bodybuilding to the zenith of popularity in the 70's. 

It had pictures of the bodybuilding legends - Arnold, Ferrigno, Columbo, etc. To my thirteen-year-old mind, they looked like gods. More importantly to my pubescent mind, they probably got a bunch of girls. I was sold. 

Passing the NSCA CSCS and Shitty Coaching

Passing the NSCA CSCS and Shitty Coaching

The strength and conditioning world is rife with certifications and seminars. Crossfit, USA Weightlifting, Underground Strength, Exos, and the alphabet soup of personal training certifications create a variety of courses of mixed qualities. Overall, it creates a low bar of entry into the field.