Biggest Taboo When It Comes To Designing Strength Training Routines

Posted on 14 Oct 2014 22:11

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I am sure most of you have seen this happen on various strength training or bodybuilding forums: The forum "elite" will bully newcomers and newbies into sticking to the norm.

What's the norm? Whatever the forum is most enthusiastic about. Who decides? The handful of most influential "elite" members.

In order to maintain the status quo, the usual argument that is used when someone wishes to change their workout routine or, heaven forbid, modify someone else's routine is, "You are a beginner, so you must stick to the routine as written!"

Kind of makes you wonder what the purpose of a forum is, but I am sure some of you have seen this happen:

Newbie: I modified Madcow's 5x5. Please help.

Forum Elite: OMG you are not allowed to modify these types of routines. We are so sick of new people making changes to the routine! Just do it as it is written.

Sounds like some religious text, doesn't it?


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Just observe the circular referencing for this type of argument. Why should you do the routine as it is written? Because you are a beginner. Why are you a beginner? Because you are not fit to modify the routine. Why should you not modify the routine? Because you are a beginner.

Well, here's my take on the matter.

  1. Training should be about getting you to your goals - WHATEVER your goals may be.
  2. Each and every routine on this planet is subject to "change". Don't let anybody tell you what you are "allowed to" or not allowed to do.
  3. Unless you experiment you will never learn.
  4. Experimenting means you may sometimes get bad results. You have to be okay with this.
  5. Getting hurt or injured is bad. Safety first.
  6. Don't do cookie cutter routines.
  7. Get to the crux of the routine. Get rid of the fluff. For example: 5x5 is about selecting a handful of exercises and progressing on each by only adding weight. This simple principle can be used in any routine. 5/3/1 is about playing with percentages of 75, 80, 85, 90 and 90+ of your max.
  8. Some routines have been reverse engineered. You would normally think that someone had the goal of say getting a big squat and then through experimentation the Smolov routine was born. But some routines (if not most) have been made blindly and then goals have been attributed to them. Don't fall into this trap. Make the routine work for you.
  9. Be consistent and truthful about your goals. It keeps everything in check. If you are wishy washy then you cannot blame the forum elite for calling you out on it. If you want big arms train for big arms.

The bottom line is that most people would be better off intelligently experimenting with their training and using those experiences to create better routines for themselves using principles that would suit their goals, without getting overly attached to those principles.

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