The majority of people that approach me about starting a training program find themselves “stuck”. Stuck at a current body fat percentage, stuck at a certain number on a lift (not getting stronger), or just stuck in general (doing the same workout routine each time they go to the gym). People ask me all of the time, “how do I avoid getting stuck?”.
The answer is simple, but can be very dependent on the individual, their goals, and experience in the gym. First let’s define what phasing really means. There are many different ways to phase an exercise program. For myself and the clients I train, I find that what works best is picking an adaptation that directly correlates to the overall goal, and sticking with that adaption for 2–4 weeks. This gives you a short term “focus” versus having each workout day during the week be a different adaptation. For example, if I’m designing a program for myself (someone who has above average mobility/stability and has experience resistance training), I’d start in a “strength” phase for 2–4 weeks. The weights will be heavier and I’ll be training in the lower (2–5) rep ranges on most movements. I’d then move into a “hypertrophic” or muscle building phase where the weights are a bit lighter, but still challenging in the mid (8–12) rep range. The final 2–4 weeks will be a phase where we really crank up the intensity. This phase will involve super-sets, tri-sets and will be trying to reach more of a “pump” (sarcoplasmic hypertrophy). In this phase, we will be working in rep ranges anywhere from 10–20 per set. For your everyday person looking to improve strength, muscle and body composition, this would be a great place to start.
Training volume (amount of work done, sets and reps) is going to vary person to person. If you’ve never trained with weights, you don’t want to overload yourself with volume. The exercise selection is also going to vary greatly based on goals and their experience with resistance training. For example, my everyday person who just wants to be healthier and in better shape is going to have a completely different exercise selection than a high school football or basketball player.
The bottom line is this: if you’re doing the same exercises over and over again, this could be holding you back from obtaining your goals. Try setting short term (2–4 week) goals that will impact your overall goal. This will ensure consistent progress and adaptation throughout your body. If you need help with setting correct goals, you can contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org.