Progressions and Regressions at the Heart of a Good Training Plan

What is a Training Program?

A training program is a set of exercises and their corresponding training methods. For example, if you want to build muscle mass, you will do exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges and other bodyweight movements that involve the muscles of the legs. If you want to improve your endurance or strength level then you will do exercises like pushups, pull ups and other body weight movements that involve the muscles of the arms. You may also perform resistance training with weights such as dumbbells, barbells and machines.

Training programs are designed to develop specific qualities within the human body. These qualities include physical fitness, mental toughness, emotional well being and many others. Some of these qualities can be improved through exercise while others cannot be improved without it. Therefore, there are different types of training programs that are suitable for each type of quality that you wish to improve.

The most common types of training programs are:

1) Linear Periodization – This type of programming involves performing one exercise per week with a predetermined rest period between sets.

Each workout consists of three phases: pre-workout, post-workout and recovery. During the pre-workout phase, you perform all the exercises that were performed during the previous workout (i.e., squats, deadlifts). During the post-workout phase, you perform all the exercises that will be performed during the next workout (i.e., bench presses, leg presses).

Finally, during the recovery phase, you perform light exercises that will help your body recover from strenuous activity (i.e., stretching).

2) Non-Linear Periodization – This type of programming involves performing one exercise per week with a predetermined rest period between sets.

However, the order in which you perform the exercises is varied with each workout. For example, you may choose to do bench presses before leg presses one day and after on another day. This method of training helps prevent your body from getting used to doing the same exercises in the same order every time leading to steady improvements in your physical capabilities.

Your training program should be composed of exercises that work on all the various muscles of your body. In addition to this, your program should be composed of various types of exercises that challenge each muscle from multiple angles (this is especially true for large muscle groups such as chest, back and legs).

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For maximum gains in muscular size and strength, you should lift 80% or more of your one-rep max (the most weight you can lift for one rep) three times per week. You should perform one heavy set of two to six reps per exercise first, followed by multiple lighter sets that will allow you to perform between eight and twelve reps per set. As your fitness level improves, increase the weight lifted and decrease the reps per set each week.

You should perform multiple sets of pushups, pull ups and dips first thing in the morning or after completing your workout (they help develop muscular endurance and can be performed before heavier strength training exercises).

You should also perform cardio for five minutes at least once per day. That’s right, at least. As your endurance improves, you can increase the duration of your cardio up to as much as you want (but no more than one hour per day).

The exercises outlined in this chapter are split into two groups: upper body and lower body. Do one exercise from the upper body group followed by one exercise from the lower body group. After you have finished all the exercises in one group, repeat the process before moving on to the next group.

Perform one set of each exercise and add one more set every other week until you are performing three sets of each exercise (after three sets, continue to add one more set every other week). When you can perform three sets of an exercise, move that exercise to the beginning of your routine and start with the first exercise in the upper body group.

Exercise 1: Dumbbell Chest Press

This exercise targets the chest muscles.

Setup: Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie on your back on a workout bench with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Let the dumbbells rest on top of your thighs.

Action: Press the dumbbells directly over your chest. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to your thighs.

Exercise 2: Barbell Shoulder Press

This exercise targets the shoulders and upper back.

Setup: Grab a barbell with a shoulder width grip. Allow it to rest on your thighs and stand straight.

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Action: Press the weight overhead until your arms are straight. Slowly lower the weight back down.

Exercise 3: Barbell Deadlift

This exercise targets the lower back, hamstrings, glutes and erector spinae.

Setup: Grab a barbell with shoulder width grip and allow it to rest at knee level (you may need to bend your knees slightly). Keep your back flat (do not round) and your head up.

Action: Keeping the barbell against your legs, stand up. Squat down and pull the bar upward until you’re standing with arms straight.

Exercise 4: Dumbbell Step-ups

This exercise targets the glutes and quads.

Setup: Place one foot on a bench behind you and keep the other foot forward (in line with your other foot). Bend your knees slightly (as if you were sitting in a chair). Keep your back straight and head up.

Action: Push through the front foot and the heel of the back foot to lift yourself up (do not jump). As you push off the front foot, bring it forward so that you are standing straight. Continue until you complete all your sets.

Exercise 5: Dumbbell Curls

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This exercise targets the biceps.

Setup: Grab a pair of dumbbells and keep your knees slightly bent and your arms straight down. Allow the dumbbells to hang straight down.

Action: Curl the weight up and then lower back down. Do not swing the weight and do not allow the arms to move out away from the sides of your body.

Exercise 6: Barbell/Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

This exercise targets the hamstrings and glutes.

Setup: Grab a barbell with a narrow grip and allow it to rest on your thighs. Stand with your feet slightly apart. Bend over at the waist with your back flat (do not round). Keep your head up and do not allow your knees to bend.

Action: Keeping the bar against your legs, stand up. Squat down and pull the bar upward in front of your body.

Exercise 7: Dumbbell Lunges

This exercise targets the glutes and quads.

Setup: Place one foot forward on a bench (so that your toes are in line with your knee) and allow the dumbbell to rest on your shoulders (allow both palms to touch each other if you can). Keep your other foot back with your knee slightly bent. Keep your head up and your back flat (do not round).

Action: Keeping the dumbbell on your shoulders, step forward with the foot and then squat down. Allow your back knee to nearly touch the ground but do not rest it. Stand back up and continue until you have completed all your sets. Then, repeat the process with the other foot.

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Exercise 8: Incline Smith Machine Press

This exercise targets the chest.

Sources & references used in this article:

Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease?: The Lifestyle Heart Trial by D Ornish, SE Brown, JH Billings, LW Scherwitz… – The …, 1990 – mx1.anneornish.com

… ‐LDL‐apheresis multicentre study, an angiographically assessed trial on the role of LDL‐apheresis in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. II. Final … by P Schuff‐Werner, H Gohlke, U Bartmann… – European journal of …, 1994 – Wiley Online Library

Randomised trial of cholesterol lowering in 4444 patients with coronary heart disease: the Scandinavian Simvastatin Survival Study (4S) by Scandinavian Simvastatin Survival Study Group – The Lancet, 1994 – Elsevier

… antagonist lacidipine slows down progression of asymptomatic carotid atherosclerosis: principal results of the European Lacidipine Study on Atherosclerosis (ELSA) … by A Zanchetti, MG Bond, M Hennig, A Neiss, G Mancia… – Circulation, 2002 – Am Heart Assoc