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What should I do after I have completed my first 12-week program and am ready to start another one?
You basically have 3 options, each of which are described below.
- Re-take your strength tests and begin the exact same program again.
This time when you start over at week 1 you will be using heavier weights
and the concept of progressive overload will be taking place. Progressive
overload simply means that you are continuing to stimulate your body to
continue making progress. Now, keep in mind that when you start over at
week 1, some of the weights will still be lighter than they were at week
12, but you will be doing more reps with a higher weight than you have ever
- Continue with the same program but add an extra day in per week. For
example: If you have been performing the 3 day program, go into the 4 day
program. Or, go from a 4 day to a 5 day. This will change up some of the
muscle group and exercise combinations and since you will be focusing on
less muscle groups in a particular training session your body will be able
to handle heavier poundages during the workouts. Remember, progressive
overload is the key. Finding a way to maximize your performance is always
positive for progress! This example obviously requires an additional day
of training so it's not for everybody.
- Switch programs altogether. This is the option I would choose.
Variation in a training program is always positive. New stimuli create the
all important progressive overload, and, that again keeps the progress
going. Remember this, you don't have to do the new program for the entire
12 weeks. You could try the General Fitness program for weeks 1-4, then
switch to the Strength and Power program on week 5 and 6, then go back into
the Get Lean program for weeks 7-12. This is a great way to continue
shocking your body for optimum results.
Now, here's the kicker, if you choose to change programs like the above
example, you will experience, first hand, the true beauty and power of the
StrengthEngine.com system. I have designed the programs to have a common thread
that runs through each and every workout that is 12 weeks in length. This
common thread is something called the
Periodization Model. The
Periodization Model is demonstrated graphically in the fitness info button
on our site. This modeling of the programs enables you to change within
each of the separate program focuses at any time and not have any negative
consequences, physically speaking! I have set optimal training intensities
for each exercise and for each set and rep combination so even though one
program may require sets of 8 repetitions and another may require
performing sets of 12 repetitions the corresponding weight change will be
perfect for you!
One other thing, I recommend re-testing your upper and lower body
strength on the last workout of week 5 and the last workout of week 10.
This time frame will have allowed your body to rest just enough from the
big week 4 program and you should see a corresponding jump in your physical
performance. You don't want to test more than this as the training cycles
aren't set up for optimum results this way. Basically, it takes more than
2 weeks for significant physiological changes to take place! Testing
every 5 weeks is the best way to go.
Dan Wirth M.A., C.S.C.S.
Fitness Director (StrengthEngine.com)
Director of Strength and Conditioning
The University of Arizona