• Intensity Waves For Results

      By Todd Bumgardner, MS, CSCS ProSource

      If you're like me, you've spent a lot of time thinking about what training truly is. You've broken it down 100 ways--twisted each variable, and thought of each variable from a multitude of perspectives. Is it sets, reps and rest? Is it exercise selection? Is it the desired outcome? Questions like these consume a lot of time and, in reality, are inconsequential.

      You see, it's not how you or I define training that matters. Sure, we have to develop our philosophies so our training makes sense. But it's how our bodies recognize, and respond, to training that's most important.

      Your body only recognizes training as stress--a disruption in homeostasis. To get the most out of this self-inflicted stress, you must distribute it intelligently throughout the week. Otherwise, homeostasis won't be restored and hard work in the gym may be all for naught.

      Breaking it down

      Even though it's easiest to think in linear progressions, most things in life undulate--or move in waves. It's true for our hormone levels and our adaptations to training. From macro-cycle to meso-cycle, our training plan must reflect our natural inclination for undulation. Before worrying about the large units of training, meso-cycles and macro-cycles, let's start by demystifying the smallest units of the training plan--the training day and the training week. Simplifying the training day and the training week will give us a head start on developing a sound undulating training plan.

      The Week in Waves

      Distributing training stress by waving training intensities throughout the week isn't as complicated as it sounds. Some lifters do it intuitively. But it's often that trainees disregard training intensities and volumes from day to day--loading the body beyond optimal recovery capacity by placing training days indiscriminately throughout the week. Training at high intensities, and with high volumes, day in and day out may serve the beginner well--for a little while--but eventually the stress is too much and the body can't adapt. For the intermediate to advanced lifter, unstructured weeks wreak havoc on progress.

      To make things simple, and create an effective visual, let's use three labels to categorize our training days:
      High Volume/High Intensity
      Medium Volume/Medium Intensity
      Each training day throughout the week will fit into one of these three categories. The goal is to distribute the stress optimally throughout the training week to promote recovery and adaptation.

      Distributing the Stress

      Now that we have training stress categorized, let's learn how to distribute it wisely throughout the training week. To do that, we'll employ three more simple planning principles:
      • No High Intensity/High Volume days back to back
      • One recovery focused day between High Intensity/High Volume days
      • Medium Intensity/Medium Volume days can be placed back to back

      The approach is straight forward, but the result is powerful. These three simple principles create the undulating training week that promotes optimal recovery and adaptation. Below I've offered a few examples of how to put these principles into action based on a six day training schedule.

      EXAMPLE 1
      Monday High Intensity/High Volume
      Tuesday Recovery (cardio or mobility)
      Wednesday High Intensity/High Volume
      Thursday Recovery (cardio or mobility)
      Friday Medium Intensity/Medium Volume
      Saturday Medium Intensity/Medium Volume
      Sunday Recovery (off)

      EXAMPLE 2
      Monday High Intensity/High Volume
      Tuesday Recovery (cardio or mobility)
      Wednesday Medium Intensity/Medium Volume
      Thursday Medium Intensity/Medium Volume
      Friday Recovery (cardio or mobility)
      Saturday High Intensity/High Volume
      Sunday Recovery (off)

      EXAMPLE 3
      Monday High Intensity/High Volume
      Tuesday Recovery (cardio or mobility)
      Wednesday Medium Intensity/Medium Volume
      Thursday Recovery (off)
      Friday High Intensity/High Volume
      Saturday Recovery (cardio or mobility)
      Sunday Medium Intensity/Medium Volume
      Example one is the training schedule that I employ most often, but all three of the examples are effective. These are only three examples--there is a multitude of ways to wave the training week successfully. Follow the three simple principles of planning and you can't go wrong.

      Split Examples

      Being the powerlifter/strongman/athlete type--I don't train in body part splits. I use either full-body or upper-body/lower body splits. But that's not to say that a wave schedule can't be effectively used for bodybuilding body part splits. Below are examples of upper-body/lower-body splits for my powerlifting and strongman brethren, as well as a body part split for you massive body builders.

      Upper-body/Lower-body Split (Westside Barbell Style)
      Monday Max Effort Lower
      Tuesday Foam Rolling and Mobility
      Wednesday Max Effort Upper
      Thursday Sled Dragging/GPP Work
      Friday Dynamic Effort Lower
      Saturday Dynamic Effort Upper
      Sunday Complete Rest

      Upper-body/Lower-body Split (Volume Training)
      Monday Upper-body Medium Volume
      Tuesday Foam Rolling and Mobility
      Wednesday Lower-body High Volume
      Thursday Sled Dragging/GPP Work
      Friday Upper-body High Volume
      Saturday Complete Rest
      Sunday Lower-body Medium Volume

      Body Part Split
      Monday Squat and Quads
      Tuesday Foam Rolling and Mobility
      Wednesday Bench and Pecs
      Thursday Sled Dragging/GPP Work
      Friday Deadlift, Back and Hamstrings
      Saturday Complete Rest
      Sunday Shoulders and Triceps


      While we may never be able to aptly describe training by using a few concise words, we can narrow it down to what it means for most of us--progress. It is measurable gains in strength, hypertrophy gains that build confidence and the peace of mind that we've improved after each session. To keep progress at a premium, plan your training week in waves of volume and intensity.

      Source: http://www.prosource.net/content/art...he-system.aspx
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