Lots of good responses. I’m not implying the details don’t matter, or that you should just “wing it” in the gym. Instead, it’s as if many of the newer programs set people up for “majoring in the minors”. As a beginner, you don’t really have a good understanding of the details that matter the most. They all matter, just some matter more than others.
Does it matter if I eat a chicken breast or steak for my 3rd meal of the day? For a competitive bodybuilder 4 weeks out for competition, that choice can make a difference. For most people, either one is a good choice.
Or, other cases where people are afraid to increase the weight because they’re not sure they can get 12 reps, since their program said 12 reps, not 8-12, and they’re just not sure what to do.
Just looking through the forums here, you can see cases where people have put “tempo” more important than “progression”, or “perfect form” as more important than “proper recovery”.
My concern is that this complexity keeps people from grasping the principles behind the program.
For example, many bodybuilding programs, do this:
- develop CNS efficiency to recruit more muscle fibers (usually via low rep, heavy weights)
- develop capillary and vascular efficiency to better deliver oxygen and nutrients to muscle fibers (usually via high[er] rep, lighter weights, drop sets, etc; i.e., chasing the pump)
- use warmups/ramp-ups/activation exercises in order to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible, and “wake them up”, since regular daily activity doesn’t require all those fibers
- develop the muscle fibers themselves and stimulate growth (via medium rep, fairly-heavy weights)
- group muscles in order to have balanced development around the joints, from a joint health standpoint, a physique standpoint, and to prevent underdeveloped muscles from holding back growth.
CT’s programs, JM’s programs, KingBeef’s programs, Doggcrapp, etc. etc. focus on these same things, they just go about doing it differently. But once you understand these ideas, you can tweak your approach to what works best for you.
Personally, I think understanding these concepts, and the ways you go about achieving them, is really more important. Instead of getting caught up in sets/reps/weight used in an activation exercise, learn an activation exercise is supposed to do… and then make sure you’ve properly activated things.
Really, it would probably be helpful to just have a list of “things that matter”, sorted from most to least important, depending on your goal.