T Nation

Questions About Workout Programs

  1. How important is it to change workout programs? I like the idea of following a similar program for a while, and constantly adding up the poundage, but I am not sure if this is hindering my progress?

  2. How do you figure out how much weight to put on when you start off a new program that follows a set/rep scheme you’re not use to? I find that I would spend at least two weeks figuring out the proper amount of weight to put on the bar. If the program dictates four weeks, then thats two already gone.

  3. What do you do if you cannot increase the weight or the reps when a program dictates that you do? Would you add on an extra week or just stop where the program tells you to stop and find another one to follow?

  4. Will changing a small parameter like the order of exercises or reducing the reps and increasing the weight (or vice versa) have a large effect on my improvement?

Thanks for your time.

pats0 wrote:

  1. How important is it to change workout programs? I like the idea of following a similar program for a while and constantly adding up the poundage, but I am not sure if this is hindering my progress?

I’ve had good results by keeping the same basic template, but modifying the exercises slightly every few weeks or whenever you hit a plateau(decline instead of benching, snatching instead of cleaning, etc.). If you pick good exercises to substitute, it will improve your original lift. That’s kind of what the guys at Westside do for their ME days.

  1. How do you figure out how much weight to put on when you start off a new program that follows a set/rep scheme you’re not use to? I find that I would spend at least two weeks figuring out the proper amount of weight to put on the bar. If the program dictates four weeks, then thats two already gone.

A week to familiarize yourself with a new program might not be all bad. If you’re transitioning from one 8 week program to another, taking a 1 week “back off” between programs could help. You could use that week to get a feel for what weight you need. A good training log will go a long way toward giving you a starting point.

  1. What do you do if you cannot increase the weight or the reps when a program dictates that you do? Would you add on an extra week or just stop where the program tells you to stop and find another one to follow?

If you’re following a well-designed program (like ones you find here), you may need to look at things like nutrition and sleep. On the other hand, if you’re following one of those programs you read in a bb magazine, you probably aren’t capable of finishing the program.

  1. Will changing a small parameter like the order of exercises or reducing the reps and increasing the weight (or vice versa) have a large effect on my improvement?

In my experience, it can. See my response to #1.
Thanks for your time.

WFCall did a pretty good job answering your questions; one point that he hit on was taking back-off weeks; every 4-6 weeks works well for me. During that time I usually spend 3-5 days doing almost nothing then I reasses my 1-3 rep max for bench, deads, squats, and chins. That way when it is time to start on a new program that calls for 80% 1RM I know exactly what weight to use.