The only thing you need to do before commencing a plan like this (subject to having injury and sign off from your GP) is to work with a Training Buddy or as Kelly Starrett (author of “The Supple Leopard”) calls a Super Friend, aka a good Personal Trainer or sports physio, to work out your maximal lifting thresholds – i.e. how many times you can do a pushing, pulling and legs exercise, with good form at a particular weight.
Once you know this you can begin to build a plan that involves using weights to create a strength response from the body, followed by what is know as a SUPERSET, to create an INTENSITY which will trigger hypertrophy.
While you do this the body will go through the energy timeline from an anaerobic to aerobic phase due to the length of the set (or more technically the TIME YOU ARE UNDER TENSION) and therefore move into a METABOLIC zone where the body looks to use fat as an energy source (subject to the state of your diet – something for a later post). On top of all of this you will be creating muscular endurance, which is the Holy Grail in fitness and performance terms, because this is how to adapt your body for future ‘GAINZ’!
Once you know your 1 RM – the weight you can lift only once with good form, i.e. to lift it a second time would cause a dangerous drop in form to the point of potential injury, you can calculate the rep range I like to use this as the backbone of my 80% plan – and that is 6 reps.
Because if you are using the right tempo (or time under tension for each repetition, the time it takes to do 6 reps should take your muscle fibres almost to an aerobic energy phase. You can then add a superset of 6 repetitions with and added INTENSITY kicker of another exercise that pushes the same muscle fibres even harder, extending the time under tension and pushing them to the brink of failure, flooded with blood therefore nutrients!!!
Once again, the science here will spark some people to shout about over simplification, and relevance to them, but I am not speaking to highly trained people (though I am very happy to count myself as one of those and this is how I train). I could go on and back this up with more science and further detail, but if you want this, please get in touch.
The only time I change the rep ranges is when I am pushing my body from its 80% to get the last 20% specific goal – a fitness competition, beach holiday or a photo-shoot!
Instead of banging on (and by now you will know 1 am fairly verbose given the length of these posts), about advanced techniques, rest breaks, rest-pause, partial repping, drop-sets and volume sets, I will simply give you my plan, the one I use, together with the techniques is use to ramp up the INTENSITY. No smoke and mirrors – this is genuinely the plan I use on myself and my clients.
Feel free to ask any questions under the ‘Ask a PT’ tab and we’ll get back to you ASAP.
Your 80/20 Training Guide – Download here