Required Reading: Practical Programming

For those who read my blog on the regular, you’ll note that I’ve mentioned my current variation of periodization or programming. My younger years had very little in the way of workout planning and, based on the dogma of the system I first learned, I didn’t feel it was needed. After reading the work of Clarence Bass, and Louie Simmons, I started incorperating their ideas into my own training with fantastic result.

So why a book on programming your weight training? Don’t you just have to keep lifting heavier and heavier weights until you achieve you strength goals? Yes and no, say Mark Rippetoe  and Lon Kilgore, who previously authored the rather good Starting Strength. There are a variety of programming guidebooks on the aerobic side of the street containing enough academic and real-world experience to take anyone of just about any fitness level to their aerobic goals. The anerobic world is often left with either an academic “pencil neck” with multiple tomes of research, or the grizzled coach who has multiple tomes worth of experience and never the two shall meet.

This book is only about the weight room alone. Programming methods range from a standard linear model to more complex models for advanced trainees. The progression of these methods is logical as an advanced or elite athlete will need more training complexity than the novice or intermediate. What isn’t discussed is conjugate periodization, undulating periodization, and other popular models.

After establishing background with regards to the research, the authors dive into their recommendations, noting that most people who train with weights will never need to go beyond the recommendations in their intermediate chapter; in fact, they say that 75% of trainees will never go beyond this level. Advanced and elite levels are reserved for pure strength atheletes training heavy 11 to 12 months out of the year.

Advanced level chapters make a point about training the aspects that have the longest maintainability (muscle size) furthest from an intended contest, as skill and metabolic work have the shortest maintainability and are trained closest to competition. Again, most people will never need to get here, but it’s an interesting point to be made.

The Good: Easy to read, full of practical information on how to program your training for gains. The fact that microloading is mentioned warms my heart.

The Bad: There could be full workout examples for intermediates (though I understand why they didn’t include this). Rumor is assistance exercises will be the topic of their next book, which must be why it’s absent here.

The Ugly: Nothing; they left gawdy graphics on the cutting room floor.

If you train with weights, buy this book. It’s that simple.

Question: What books do you feel are “elite” when it comes to improving your training?

3 thoughts on “Required Reading: Practical Programming

  1. Great book for most any level of lifter/trainer. Even if you think you know it all, try it out. I’m sure you will gain some valuable ammunition for your wars in the weightroom.

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