I’m a big procedure guy. I love the peace of mind that comes with doing something by the book and removing the unnecessary “thinking” from the equation. I just want to focus my efforts on the procedure to get the job done. As you can imagine, when it comes to writing weight training programs, I LOVE having our own in–house policy and procedure manual: the “Muscle and Strength Training Pyramids.”
Now certainly, you need a basic understanding of the principles underlying the policies and procedures to make sure you apply them appropriately, but that’s interwoven into the text in a very reader friendly manner. Before you go thinking this is just another pitch to buy our wonderful book, please hear me out.
How many of you dedicated lifters “think” too much? Wondering after seeing so and so lifter doing this or that, maybe you should too? You see Alberto Nunez’s recent squat PR of 500lbs after doing pin squats, so maybe you should do those too? You see Eric Helms doing a full body split 5x per week so you should too? You see Jeff Alberts never going above 80% of his max so maybe you should too?
Having policies and procedures to go off of eliminates all of that hemming and hawing. Remember, ultimately none of those things I mentioned above matter as long as you have met all of the policies. You can incorporate them into your program, or not! If you can’t squat at all, much less pin squat, then don’t. Just meet the policies. If you can’t stand the thought of doing a full body training session then don’t! Just meet the policies. If you love to incorporate heavy training and lifting close to 1RMs a few times a week then do it! Just meet the policies.
This graphic is straight out of the Training Pyramid book and if you have the book, you can find it on page 47. I can’t tell you how many different types of programs I’ve written for dozens if not hundreds of folks using this graphic as my base.
Obviously, the context of lifting age and level, the type of programming the athlete has done in the past, and the athlete’s current goals play a huge role in how you manipulate these variables.
However, as long as the criteria in the graphic is met, you can do just about anything you want to your program and customize it to yourself. It’s literally the “anti-program” program.
If you want to do Push/Pull/Legs for your program, do it! Just meet the criteria. Do you want to do a banded RDL on the belt squat machine with variable resistance on the lever arm? Go for it! Just meet the criteria. You fear lifting heavy and don’t want to do anything less than 5 reps and go past a RPE of 8.5? That’s fine, just meet the criteria.
Now obviously, at a certain point in many (but not all) athletes careers, they may have to color outside of the lines. However, this is based on years of purposeful trial and error along with careful note taking and repeating assessment to discover which of the variables above need an asterisk next to them specific to the individual’s genetics, injury history, goals and psychology. But hey, if you are the person hemming and hawing over IG lifters…this ain’t you.
Therefore, the only remaining questions to ask yourself are: What is the origin of said policy? How valid is it? Why should I follow that policy vs this policy? Who is Eric Helms and these 3DMJ people and why should I do what they say?
Obviously, that is another topic for a different blog. However, I would hope the credentials of our very own Dr. Helms and the hundreds if not thousands of athletes we have guided using the criteria above might speak for itself. But hey, an appeal to Eric’s authority and our anecdotes might convince you, but they certainly don’t have to! There are also a triple-digit number of scientific references littered throughout the text to back up all the said policies and procedures.
In any case, as a coach, I have a great deal of confidence in my ability to write a program for anyone who wants to put in the work, under any conditions, with any equipment, for any muscle or strength related goal using our “policies and procedures” and I know that the program will work. That kind of confidence alone should be worth some gainz as long as the work is done.