An Introduction to my programming style

Originally Posted on Tuesday, December 03, 2013 1:00 PM

This blog is in response to one of my lifters remarking that Day 1, in our programs, is usually very long and very difficult.  That's true, and I have reasons for it.  Basically, Day 1 is the heaviest volume day and we combine it with some heavy intensity, too, especially in the snatch. We do this day as day 1 because: 1. You should be rested from the previous week/ Day 4. 2. If you have to skip a day, you generally skip day 4. 3. Doing Day 1 initially also means that, if you can't train Monday, you still get that work in on Tuesday. As for our weekly structure, I default to a 4 day week since most of you guys have jobs. Working 40+ hours a week, driving, having to pay bills, etc. makes recovery difficult, and more than 4 days a week on a regular basis would tax the CNS greatly. That four day week leaves me some, but not all, great variables to work with in designing a program. 

So, if we, say, have our two most important variables as volume and intensity, and we assign each of these variables a number (Volume 0-3, Intensity 0-3 where 0=rest and 3=high volume/ high intensity), than we can start to organize our training in a week. Every week should have at least one low volume day, and every week should have at least one high volume day. 

Every week should have at least two high intensity days *(lifts over 90%). A high volume day means 100+ lifts; a low volume day means 50 or fewer lifts. Medium and medium-high volume days are 50-75 and 75-100 lifts, respectively. You'll find that, in the course of a three month period, we'll have 4 High Volume days at least and that our medium- medium high volume days wave from 2 of each per week to 1 of each per week. Intensity ranges are as follows: Low (70% and below), medium (70-80%), Medium-Heavy (80-89%), heavy (90%+). 

Based on these numbers, 1-3x/ week we hit lifts at 90% or above. We normally do this 2x/ week, though we often go to 3x/ week, especially when you guys come visit me from afar. However, in a normal training period, we don't do 90% lifts one week per month (3 hard/ 1 deload). For some people, I prefer 2 on/ 1 off easy week, though I've just started to express that desire for individualization. Generally I see the need for the easy week, or people simply fail and don't go to the 90% level (a natural deload). But back to our weekly organization. 

Using our 0-3 scale, I need to find an effective way to pair intensity with volume. While we do vary the intensity/ volume pairings, they work best with a low volume or high volume day. A medium day is also ok to pair with intensity, but not great, and certainly not for a repeated time period (the reason for this is the subject of another whole essay). So, we have one day of heavy volume and heavy intensity (3/3), one day of low volume/ low intesnity (1/1 or 2/2) and one day of medium high volume and high intensity (2/3). We have another day each week which is a 1/2, 2/2, or 2/1, depending on where we are in relation to a meet. 

Our monthly organization can follow any of the folowing patterns: 2/1/3/4, 3/2/1/4, 1/3/2/4, or 3/2/1/4, etc. The order of these numbers indicate which weeks have the highest volume. You'll notice that our built in deload is week four. Some week fours have higher volume than others, based on our monthly number of lifts. Some months our volume is failry flat, where each week do do about the same amount of volume (we've just come off a series of such cycles). Other months we have the most volume in week 3, which I generally prefer. On occasion, we have the most volume in week 1, which usually occurs after a heavy deload week. This month, our heaviest volume is week 2 (This week), since we had Thanksgiving last week, we have two more weeks of regular training, then we have the week before Christmas and Christmas week itself which will be a longer deload period with lighter volume, though we will still have some days of higher intensity.


There are reasons why I follow this programming style, and I'll get into them in another blog entry.  Please be aware that the above is actually a facebook post, and I intend it to be general, and I didn;t bother to go including any references.  I recommend you start with Bob Takano's book on programming for ideas, then delve into deeper areas.  

Michael McKennaComment