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Creating My Own Programming

So I’ve been doing a few beginner beginner/intermediate programs that were pre-written and all I had to add was add/remove weights. The further I read into it the more people recommend developing your own programming from reading your body. Even in programs like 5/3/1 the assistance work is based on what you feel that you need to do to help the lifts. Is it just from trial and error or are there good reading materials that are good for developing a good understanding of programming and strength work exercises?

Noone who knows what they are talking about is recommending that a beginner design their own program. Jim (for example) has been very specific in recommending guideines for assistance work to pair with 5/3/1. He has offered probably over a hundred different templates that can be used.

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Yup. The person who isn’t afraid of failure will succeed. Those stuck trying to be optimal will spin their wheels.

I’m not saying for a beginner with 3mths of training to be told “Ok you’re making your own program now” it’s more that I’m wondering how does one progress from that stage from following programs to creating their own for themselves. It’s not like magically once you hit the plateaus that you have an epiphany and know exactly what exercises should be done at what reps, sets and splits.

I would say that is bred from making small adjustments over time. Eventually you will figure out which lifts work for you and which don’t, how much volume you need, etc. Its not something that one really can build from scratch.

For example, I follow a Westside-type split. I use the traditional breakdown of max-effort and dynamic-effort days (general template), and have done so for the better part of the past year. Within that general outline I have rotated certain lifts in and out as considered necessary. A LOT of my decision making was helped along by 2 different experienced lifters who were nice enough to help coach me. For example, right now I am working really hard on developing my upper back to aid in my bench technique, so I’m doing a LOT of high cable rows. Did I always do this? No. But I am now. And I have found that its much easier to address problems as they arise than to try to pre-empt every possible issue you might have.

Basically, just have a good reason for whatever you decide to do. I built a great base of strength by following a 5x5 program but eventually my bench stalled out. Through experimentation I found it was because I was severely lacking in upper body mass. My bench started moving again when I added some tricep work. Make sense?

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Good question sirnikolai,
In terms of training programs, it is important to take into account individuality. Your body will respond differently to certain exercises when compared to other people. That’s the main reasoning variation within programs like 5/3/1. However, trial and error isn’t the only thing. There are sound, scientific principles of strength training that have been proven time and time again within research and out in the “real-world” by strength coaches and athletes, such as volume, intensity and frequency.
There are several good reading materials that allow you to develop your own programs and the programs of others. A few of the books that stand out to me are:

  • ‘Scientific Principles of Strength Training’ by Prof. Zatsiorsky
  • ‘Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning’ Baechle and Earle
  • ‘Starting Strength’ by Mark Rippetoe.

It’s important to understand the way your body responds individually, but by no means is it purely from trial and error.

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Yes, thank you very much for breaking this down. Makes a lot more sense now.

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Er yeah -tons of quality articles on this site.(tnation section) Read a bunch of articles by Wendler, Dan John, Paul Carter etc …loads of strategies and templates for guaranteed results. No thinking needed for like the next 3- 5 years (as long as willing to work hard)

I Like this take on running through a bunch of proven programs…