By: Tim Rigby (courtesy of Inside Fitness)
Once you’ve been training for a while, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that the great initial results you’ve achieved are going to continue, if you keep training in the same manner as when you started. You’ve made the effort and witnessed the proof in the excellent results you’ve gained, therefore to add to these gains, you’ll naturally be inclined to continue the same grind. Well, it’s time for a reality check, because (1) this would be too easy, and (2) it’s definitely not the case. We hope that you’re familiar with the concept of adaptability, in that your body always becomes accustomed to self-induced physical stress, meaning that your gains will eventually slow down if you keep doing the same old thing. Experienced fitness athletes are well aware that to sustain a progression of gains, they must completely change and mix up their training protocols every four to six weeks.
To clear up the muddy waters, simply keep in mind that it’s essential for you to pick a broad goal (e.g. weight loss, fat loss, muscle building or strength/power gains), and then pick a specific goal (the measurement you wish to accomplish, usually in pounds, over a finite length of time). The best strategy is for you to set up a long-term program in phases of: (1) foundation, (2) growth, (3) adjusted growth and (4) climax. Foundation phases are when you introduce your body to the changes in physical exertion you’re going to maintain until the end of the program. Growth is when you make subtle adjustments like adding weight and/or reps. Adjusted growth is implementing things like specialty techniques and climax is when you being it all home by adding volume and enhancing your recovery. Each type of goal will determine how you approach all four phases.