T Nation

For Those Who Made Their Own Training Program

I would like to hear from you. I am very interested in training theory and feel im just beginning to scratch the surface of a solid understanding of the subject. I don’t feel that I am at a point where I can successfully program myself but I would like to be there one day soon.

Please include as much info as possible. What was your training experience at the time? How did your lifts improve and how did you do at your next meet? What was your motivation behind choosing the movements, assistance, and structure of the program? What problems did you run into? And how would you rate your program up against the more popular training templates out there? Any and all input to this thread is appreciated.

Do what you need to do to improve. That’s all there is to it. When you do this long enough, you’ll get what I mean. I can only tell you two things that can never change. One is patience and the other is consistency. Honestly, programming is easy. It’s the diet and recovery that make the difference.

I try to do training programs I get off places like t-nation or coaches and then see what it feels like. You know that most of the programs work for a fair number of people so you’re likely not too far off.

After a while you will notice what feels good and what doesn’t. Don’t get confused between easy and good though. To me, biceps curls are easy and high rep squats are brutal, but GOOD. Some exercises feel better at higher reps (dips) but I don’t like the idea of doing more than 5-8 reps on deadlifts. I think some of those things are universal and a lot ist stuff you eventually find out.

I started off reading a lot and taking articles for gospel, which can be dangerous. Looking back now those same people have noticed that what they were doing and advertising may not have been so clever in the long run. I think WSBBC did a lot of heavy good mornings 10-15 years ago. They realised it may not be such a great exercise to do very heavy… That’s just an example that came to my head.

Condensed down:

  1. Write down what you do, religiously
  2. Learn to listen to your body
  3. Learn to find the line between your comfort zone and injury-ville
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Up until this meet I did regular linear increases on all lifts. If I did 3x3 at 315 week 1, then I’d do 320 on week 2, and 325 on week 3.

However, I have reached my peak using that type of training, as everyone will eventually.

So now my programs generally start with a 3-5 week bodybuilding / hypertrophy phase of lifting, depending on how far away my next meet is. During that phase I generally do little isolation work, but more compound movements. For example, I’ll bench to failure using a bodybuilding style stance (no arch, flat back, etc), instead of flys to failure. I never squat to failure, but I’ll do the leg press to failure in it’s place (safer).

During that initial phase, I identify what I feel my weak points are. Example of my last meet I felt my shoulders were very weak, so I focused hard on them during my hypertrophy phase. My bench went from 330 to 365 in a couple months (that is not normal mind you, I’ve had injury issues that I just now learned how to train with), but also a big part of it was my shoulder training.

Also during the hypertrophy phase, I will squat with sleeves on, no wraps.

Once the hypertrophy phase is done, I assess where I feel my weaknesses are, and build a program. I still do some sort of linear progression, constantly adding weight every workout, but it may be a little different in the form of adding a rep instead, or reducing reps and adding weight, etc.

I NEVER do multiple working sets, but that is just me. I work up to a single set of 3-8 reps, and that’s it for that movement. Sometimes I’ll program in a backoff set.

Often times I will do set to failure after my working set. So, for bench as an example, I’ll do a set of 3 of my working set at 335, then I’ll do 275 for reps. Once I can get 15-10 reps at 275, I’ll up it to 285, repeat each week.

After I do my main movement, I do hypertrophy work to fix my weak areas. Again, removing isolation work, but doing compound movements instead whenever possible.

I wouldn’t rate my programs any better than any out there, probably worse for the masses, but I have to lift certain weights on certain days. I have to bench on Monday, and squat on Tuesday, as I need a full week for my arm to heal from squatting.

simpler is always better in my opinion

I realised recently that there is no right or wrong way to train. There are just more or less efficient ways to achieve whatever your goals happen to be.

But, if there is one rule that’s probably going to apply to training at any given time or in any given situation it is that simpler is better.

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My suggestions are:

  • Be practical, are you really going to move up in a linear fashion if your not a beginner?
  • Understand your body and how much recovery it needs
  • plan out intensity and volume.
  • Understand that sometimes its not gonna go as planned
  • Use assistance work for weak points, size and stuff you like.
  • dont eliminate, but limit accessories or youll get bogged up in time wasting movements.