The Training Pyramid

Hey guys, before you read any further, make sure to your read part 1 where we covered everything about the nutrition pyramid. Just like that, we will dive deep into the training pyramid and give you a perspective about everything related to training so that you know how to look at it from a broader mindset and in turn start asking the right questions and start taking the right actions!

A lot of the time the problems that we see are not really the problems that we need to be tackling at the moment. For example,

  • Can I do drop sets and supersets?
  • Should I do high reps or low reps?
  • What’s the best exercise to lose weight?
  • Should I train to failure?

All of this without knowing the basics and understanding the concepts such as periodisation, volume and execution is useless!

This is a pyramid to help you understand the stages and layers in order of priority and importance. If the bottom most layer is not taken care of the subsequent or above layers should not be the concern and cannot be achieved!

Eg, it would be wrong to ask how many times I should workout in a week before knowing the total work and volume YOU require in a week. Get it?

Let’s get into it – You will make 80-90% of your progress if you simply focus on the bottom 3-4 layers of the pyramid. The rest is just the icing on the cake.

The credit of this concept goes to Dr. Eric Helms from 3DMJ.

Layer Of All The Layers: Periodisation

Just like behaviour and lifestyle in nutrition, periodisation encompasses every single layer of the pyramid and without that, the full thing falls apart like a pack of cards. Periodisation alone regulates everything and is the “plan” with which you will be able to manipulate every layer to function in sync with one another.

Layer 1: Adherence

The base of the pyramid lies on adherence. You need to be able to adhere to your system and be able to follow it long term to get any kind of significant results from it. On paper, something might be most optimal but if you cannot adhere to it – its useless and you will not get the results you are looking for.

You can have the best gym/training facility, you can have the best coach, the best nutrition plan, the best gear to train in but of the process is something you cannot be consistent with or does not suit the lifestyle you live, it will never work. You need to be aware of your resources, preferences, strengths, weaknesses, injuries, your biomechanics and your lifestyle as a whole before you get into making a training program for yourself. Only if all of these things are taken into consideration can you make a tailored plan for yourself which will ensure that you follow through to smash whatever goal you want to achieve – there is no one size fits all approach!

Layer 2: Volume, Frequency & Intensity

The 3 components are the foundation of any training program – volume, frequency and intensity and they are inseparable. If your intensity is super high, your volume will be slightly low and you will need more rest so the frequency reduces. If you decide to do anything but this, your body will (sooner or later) give up! So being optimal with these 3 components is extremely important and needs to be looked into before jumping onto  the high levels of the pyramid.

Layer 3: Progression

The rate at which you progress is another very important factor to look into when it comes to training. We need to manipulate our training program in such a way that we follow the basic principles of “Progressive Overload”. What does this mean? We need to keep challenging ourselves so that we can constantly force our body to adapt to any kind of external stimulus! This can be done in the form of – volume, sets, reps, loads, improving form and technique and so on. Initially its all sunshine and rainbows because progress is quick but there will come a time when things take time and that is when you need to dig deep, follow a plan and find ways to ensure that you keep progressing!

Layer 4: Exercise Selection

Once all of this is taken care of, it is then the right time to look at which exercise needs to be done and when in order to get the maximum out of your training sessions – Exercise Selection! It is at this point that we need to work on the strengths and weaknesses of our body and see what is most optimal for us individually in accordance to our biomechanics, goals, imbalances, equipment availability, injury history and so on! Example, there might be other assistance exercises you need to get better at to get stronger at a squat due to your limb length. It may not be a case where doing squats is the only option vs someone who’s body mechanics are built for squatting.

Layer 5: Rest Periods

Then comes the argument of rest periods as this will vary depending on your style of training and the goals you want to achieve. A powerlifter might need 3-5 minutes of rest between every set because he is working with heavy weights close to his 1RM vs someone who is training to get better at football and probably needs minimal rest because that is what the sport demands.

The general rule of thumb to consider rest periods while training is:

  • 3-5 minutes between sets (atleast) for strength training (typically 3-5 rep range). It can even go upto 8-10 minutes if you are a powerlifter working with extremely heavy weight. No your body does not cool down if you rest for this long!
  • 2-3 minutes between sets for hypertrophy focused training (typically 8-12 reps)
  • 30 seconds to 1 minute for endurance focused sessions (typically 12+ reps)

This is a basic guide when it comes to taking rest between sets, you can go from personal preference and see what works for you. Anything except sitting on your phone is acceptable here!

Layer 6: Tempo

The icing of the cake is the variation in tempo and the additions you make to your exercises to get the most out of them! This is an advanced technique to help you use the benefits of time under tension and challenge yourself even more to milk out the maximum out of your current training sessions!

Going into every session with the mindset of doing supersets, drop sets, giant sets and so on is not what you should be doing. There is no method that is superior than the other, it all depends on the situation in front of you and how you can make the most of that style of training. It should not be the base of your training plan by any means, it should be the last thing that you need to consider after all the basics are taken care off but this does not mean it isn’t important at all!

I hope this cleared out a lot of your questions regarding training. Overtime we talk about anything regarding training, I will link you back to this video so you have a perspective of what you need to be looking at considering what level of fitness you are currently at and what you need to work on RIGHT NOW to be able to progress for the longest amount of time. Who doesn’t want to train and be active for the rest of their life right?

Hope this gives you some perspective on training. Make sure to share your thoughts in the comments below and tell me what you want me to talk about next, I appreciate you guys.

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