I seldom find an article that I think everybody should read. However, a new article was released on T-Nation last Tuesday that I think everybody should read. It’s so important that I’m dedicating this whole post to it, and I’ll be creating a ‘required reading’ page linking to it as well. Here’s why:
I’ve yet to see such clear explanation of how a strength training session should be designed. Previously, I’ve used THIS article from Brian St. Pierre to explain the basic strength and conditioning model that I’ve learned and recommend, but it’s brevity prevents the explanation of the exercise order.
I’ll now link to Jim Wendler’s article, The World’s Simplest Training Template: I insist that you click through to the link.
If you didn’t take the time to read the article, here’s a picture of Jim to remind you that knowledge is power:
Did you read the article? Go read it! Jim achieved a 2375lb total in his powerlifting days, including a 1000-pound squat, a 675-pound bench press, and a 700-pound deadlift…we can learn from his blood, sweat, and tears.
The format that Wendler lays out is simple; when you go to the gym, you should Stretch, Lift, and Sprint. It’s a simple strength and conditioning model that leads to great results. Obviously, I like this model because it’s the way I’ve been training myself and others for over the past year, and it reinforces what I’ve learned by following the best coaches in the world.
Without taking away from the article, I’ll summerize what should occur during each of these segments of the workout:
Stretch: During this segment, you should perform a form of self-myofacial release, whether it be using a foam roller, a PVC pipe, a lacrosse ball, The Stick, or through self massage. After you address tissue quality, you should perform dynamic movements that help your tissues and body systems prepare for the upcoming workout. Finally, you may want to statically stretch your muscles that feel tight; while current research shows that it provides little benefit to injury prevention and performance increase, years of scientific and anecdotal research remind us that stretching is something that few of us do enough of.
Lift: Exercise order comes down to an exercises demand on the central nervous system. In general, this will mean that explosive movements come first, strength exercises come second, and assistance work comes third. After the speed work is complete at the beginning of the lifting session, a basic rule is this: move your heaviest weights first, then move to the lighter exercises; it’s a simple tip that should help you clean up your program design.
Sprint: Wendler gives a recommendation in his Sprint explanation that I think should be the barometer used when deciding on a conditioning protocol: ” If it’s awesome, do it. If your mom can do it, don’t.” If you need to think about it, then it’s probably not awesome. If your first thought is, “This kicks ass!”, then you’ve got yourself a keeper.
While I quickly summarized the article, I’d suggest you read it. If you haven’t listened to my previous three recommendations, THIS is yet another link to the article. Read it, learn more, and take control of your physical fitness. With a complete program that covers all of the bases, you’re set up for success from the beginning. I’ll be using this article in conjugation with my often recommended Program Design For Dummies to explain both exercise selection and daily organization of a workout; it provides the basic information that allows you to train smart, train hard, and train healthy.