I’ve been having an interesting e-mail exchange with someone this week and I thought I’d share my response with everyone. It’s on the subject of recovery and fixed training schedules.
His email, in part, reads;
“…What really irritates me though is that, no matter how hard I search, you seem to be the only voice out there who advocates a variable frequency (and a never ending variable one at that….ie; you keep extending the rest days, and never stop extending if the client is willing).”
“These other “HIT” trainers out there, keep their clients on a fixed frequency. They “may” at one time or another extend it to once every 9-10 days, but that’s usually the limit…….almost as if the body says “My genetic potential is at day 10 and refuse to go any further”. But that is pure nonsense.”
“…Do they really believe that they will lose clients or money if they use a variable frequency? I mean, couldn’t they gain more clients just by telling the truth and not forcing them to train “Once every 7 days” like a broken record? What’s the point in staying on a permanent plateau of little or no strength gains, and lying that “deconditioning” occurs if anymore than 10 days is inserted between workouts? (my dad is 49 days between his “Deadlift Only” routine and his conditioning does not suffer at all)”
We all see this constantly. I used to say the three biggest lies in bodybuilding are ‘Monday, Wednesday and Friday.’ That is the universal advice given by every trainer and, I’m sorry to say, most physicians.
1. Do personal trainers believe their own advice? I can’t get inside their heads or speak to their motives but I know that people can believe things in spite of all evidence to the contrary. So they might think it’s good advice to never rest more than 48 hours.
2. When a trainer does not measure anything it’s a lot easier to believe on faith or just the momentum of doing the same as everybody else. If you simply measure how much you lift per minute on just one exercise you will very soon discover that you can’t make progress on a fixed schedule. Suppose you can bench press 200 lbs 15 times in one minute and then you have to stop. Can you return in two days and lift 210 lbs 15 times in a minute? Two days after that can you lift 220 lbs 15 times? Because after following that fixed schedule for two months you’d have to lift 500 lbs 15 times in one minute. Have you ever seen anyone go from a max of 200 x 15 to a max of 500 x 15 in two months? I haven’t.
3. Compounding the difficulty of the above feat is the issue of making similar gains on all the other exercises in a workout. Do the other 8 to 12 exercises in a routine also make the same fantastic gains on schedule every 48 hours? Fat chance.
4. When you calculate the total tonnage of these workouts you can see that it’s preposterous to expect a person to recover from lifting 100 tons as fast (48 hours) as he recovers from lifting 20 tons. It’s like asking six inches of hair to grow back as fast as one inch of hair would. Again, preposterous.
5. I’m scratching the surface of what can be measured. I track momentary intensity, sustained intensity, something I call Relative Static Intensity, the specific Intensity Volume of each exercise and each total workout, the personal rate of recovery a trainee demonstrates and more. Measurement cuts through the BS very quickly.
6. Most strength training is still in the Dark Ages. Crappy advice is circulated in gyms and no doubt many trainers realize they can make more from frustrated trainees who who visit them very frequently and resort to supplements and/or drugs to try to make progress while on impossible training schedules. I think the younger a person is the more susceptible he is to the garbage. My market tends to be older trainees who are too savvy to tear themselves up and risk injury doing saturation routines based on blind hope. Savvy trainees understand the value of a sustainable program instead of one that runs them into the ground and when they can see objective measurements that show their progress or lack of progress they know they are training a rational, sensible way. Too bad they’re in the minority.