Developing a weight training system: EXTREMELY NECESSARY! (but not that complicated)

Here's an important secret: if you don't have a weight training system in place and/or contingency plans to overcome obstacles to progress and adherence, your success, or lack there of, will reflect that. Regardless of how motivated you think you are, common hindrances can and will compromise strength progression. Among the.usual offenders to progress are excessive-complexity, injury/irritation, stagnation, and information overload. The following examples of how a sound weight training system can manage the aforementioned obstacles to progress will hopefully provide a blueprint for overcoming all obstacles to progress.

Excessive Complexity

Few things kill progress more commonly than biting off more than can be chewed. Many of the recommended programs in the media have infinite amounts of worthless complexity. Variety is for the sake of progression. As such, variety should be limited to what's necessary to get stronger.

An integral part of any plan is a method to determine if extra exercises, sets, and reps are necessary. My sentiment is that if the additional work/variety doesn't provide likely opportunity to practice maximum muscle tension, then scrap it. If confused as to whether to add complexity to a regimen, consult a fitness trainer.


Somewhat opposite to excessive complexity, a routine that has few variety options hinders progress when current exercises cause injury/irritation. Progress has no continuity when there is a refusal to make some type of change when irritation/injury is experienced. I know ....your form is perfect...blah blah. Physiology doesn't care how good you think your form is, repetitive motion, particularly if it's heavy will present irritation/injury if done too frequently. Having non-irritating variations of movements is critical for productive adherence..


Workouts become stagnant for reasons like lack-of-variety and poor recovery. When a program has insufficient variety, additional to the irritation/injury stated above, stagnation occurs due to a dulling of stimulus. As noted above, detriments due to lack of variety are offset by movement alternatives; in this case to maintain a fresh stimulus (see my periodization article). If variation is in place and stagnation is due to recovery issues, stress (in/out of the gym)/nutrition/sleep require modification.

Information Overload

Information overload impairs weight training system progress by compromising the quality and consistency of the stimulus. Stimulus quality is impaired by either overtraining and/or being diluted. Overtraining results from infor-overload via things like adding every "new-idea " to your program and exceeding recovery capability. Diluted stimulus can result from integrating popular programs like super-slow-weight-training/p90x/crossfit into a strength program; such integration can dilute the "increase-force" stimulus witn a "ration-force" stimulus confusing the the body as to which stimulus to adapt? Inconsistency results from information overload when you're always changing load/exercises which fails to stimulate adaptation frequent enough to maintain/increase adaptations.

Take Away

Having a weight training system and/or plan in place to overcome obstacles to progress is critical to fitness success. Having an abbreviated program that allows focus and progress is a viable option when a sophisticated one is too complex to benefit from. Rotating variations of movements to avoid irritation/injury and/or refresh stimulus will allpw for adherence and progress that more restrictive programs won't.

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