Great question just came in after some Easter Festvities with the Family 🙂
I LOVE apending time with my family. My wife and daughter REALLY make every breathing moment a magical time for me. Soon, we'll have a new baby boy in the house. This means I need to be stronger. Why stronger? The more kids I must carry on my back the stronger I must get! Nobody wants a wimpy Daddy!
QUESITON: I love your methods and am never bored with my workouts which now closely
resemble your own. The only question I have is to know how far I'm
progressing if I'm changing up the exercises every workout for every
workout? I guess I'm just so used to gauging myself off of my previous
workout's reps,sets,etc for a particular lift and comparing it to the most
For example, if I'm doing overhead presses with a sandbag this
week and substituting it with KB Military presses next week and barbell
overhead presses the following week for variety's sake how do I know that
I'm improving each week?
All of these exercises have a different 'groove' to
them and I won't be able to complete the same amount of reps with each
implement even though I'm doing the same exercise with the same amount of
weight. Don't get me wrong I love this kind of training and I feel that I'm
getting stronger (and definitely better conditioned) each week!
It's just that I'm pretty new to it and want to make sure that I'm not only sweating
buckets, but reaping the maximum amount of reward at the same time. I hope
that this doesn't come across as any sort of criticism! I have a bad habit
of overthinking my routines to death:-) Any advice would be appreciated.
Dan, thanks for the great question and in NO way do I feel criticized 🙂
I think you're on the right track. How will you know if you're REALLY on track? If you're getting stronger 🙂
I'll give you two options brother, both of which we use with great success.
Our more advanced lifters, including myself, change the "core" lift frequently, sometimes every workout, our less advanced lifters usually repeat the same lift for 2 - 3 workouts and aim to improve on that lift every time, either via adding a rep or two, a few lbs. or both.
Now, in the real world, the gains don't happen Every Single Time. There are endless variables that can affect this progression, especially when we take into account daily differences in stress, sleep, nutrition, recovery, etc.
Switching too often, as you mentioned, makes it tough to guage the progress, but, if we do have athletes who switch the exercise frequently (although same movement, such as a variaiton of the overhead press) we can guage progress by testing the results on a specific lift.
For example, if we want to improve the numbers on the straight bar military press, we will use similar movements to help this lift. We can tell if we're improving when we come back to the lift. This is how many of the strongest men train. They use similar movements and special exercises to improve in their main 3 lifts: squat, bench and dead lift.
But, in the end, you must always find what works for you. You might respond best to performing the same basic "core" lift for 2 - 4 weeks in a row, and then switching to another one, always trying to progress little by little each time.
The Russians found that 3 weeks was often the maximum time one could continue gaining strength on a specific movement, unless they were very new to training. So every 2 - 3 weeks the core lift would be switched.
Keep seeing what works for you, which is what I always do. What works for me may not be the perfect formula for someone else. Just remember, strength is a skill, so repeated practice in specific movements helps improve your skill, i.e. strength.
Go get em'!
Zach Even - Esh
P.S. - If you want to see the behind the scenes details of how I train my athletes and myself to get incredibly strong then head on over to http://UndergroundStrengthCoach.com.