Training doesn’t happen in isolation! By that I mean, your performance for a given physical task is highly influenced by a number of factors. You can’t always just try harder, it doesn’t quite work like that. For decades sports scientists have been experimenting and devising plans and strategies to enhance performance at a specific time and date – think Olympic finals etc. Using a 100m sprint as an example, Usain Bolt isn’t trying to run world records every race, nor would he be preparing himself like he’s going to. The same goes for your performance in the gym, it’d be great if we could just walk in and PB week after week but it’s just not going to happen unless you are a complete beginner – which sadly comes to a halt eventually.
Training hard is one thing, but, expecting constant improvements without taking your foot of pedal at all is foolish. When we train hard and heavy we increase our levels of fatigue, both central fatigue (central nervous system which governs motor unit recruitment) and peripheral fatigue (decline in actual muscle function). This limits your performance for a given amount of time, it’s not black and white, it’s in constant flux and as stated previously is influenced by a huge range of things, not just training.
We know that heavy repetition maximum training is really fatigue inducing, so if you’re banging out sets that are near on 10/10 RPE’s (nothing left in the tank) your performance on subsequent days maybe even weeks may suffer, if you continue to train like that, they definitely will! To put it in context, if you maxed out your Deadlift yesterday for whatever amount of reps, especially high reps, you’re Bench might feel heavy today. That doesn’t mean you can’t work hard, just don’t expect miracles and factor in those Deadlifts man!
The same goes for lifestyle elements as well. Things like sleep, hydration, nutrition all play a part. If they aren’t on point, your performance can suffer, again, you can’t just try harder.
At Smith’s Fitness I typically use traditionally programming of 4 week blocks (mesocycles) with 3 weeks of increasing intensity followed by a week of reduced volume and or intensity. After each block we look to make improvements via exercise selection, increases in volume and or intensity.
The point of this little article (rant?) is to highlight the importance of planning our training with these things in mind and at the same time being aware of outside factors that may impair our performance on any given day. We can be as prepared and have all the percentages worked out to the decimal point, but that doesn't mean for a second that we cannot and shouldn't make justified changes to our training given certain circumstances. The last thing I want to see is someone being held hostage by numbers on a program!