Never Question the Program

Posted on 12 Jul 2015 18:44


Have you ever noticed this trend? Someone is doing some fancy program and they feel they have stalled or regressed on an exercise. They ask for help. What is the most common response? It’s almost always “your form is wrong” or “you should do so-and-so exercise instead”. This is all a bunch of bullshit!

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes your form genuinely may be off and perhaps the exercise being suggested is a good alternative to the movement you are doing. But what gets to me is this mentality where nobody wants to question the training parameters outlined in the program because they are too holy to be meddled with.

If someone is doing 5x5 and they’re stuck on the overhead press and they are complaining about this because they’ve reset the weight a few times and exercise form is fine as well, the next suggestion is to swap out the overhead press for the incline bench press. This, to me, is ridiculous. Why not examine the rigid (and mundane) training parameters of only doing 5 sets of 5 reps? If you are getting stuck on an exercise using the same set-rep scheme you do on EVERY exercise of your routine (which in itself is idiotic to say the least) , then the next step in your solution should be to change this set-rep scheme. Do something different. Play around with singles and THEN do some volume work with 85-90% of your relative max. Or you can do higher reps and build on volume before adding weight so you can carry yourself to the next weight range. There are plenty of options you can choose from but you have to be willing to question the existing training parameters being forced onto you.

I used 5x5 as an example because it is a very rigid and restrictive program. But the principle of people not wanting to question the program is prevalent throughout. It’s always one extreme or the other. Either you do the program as it is written or you don’t do the program because you’re inexperienced or not strong enough or whatever excuse the “elite” want to level on you.

This is not the way to make the most of your training. If you are going to do someone’s routine open yourself to questioning everything about the routine and be willing to make adjustments based on what is actually happening on the floor. Remember how the go-to solution for anybody getting stuck on an exercise on 5x5 is to drop the weight and work back up? It’s like running into a wall then taking a few steps back to launch yourself at the wall again hoping it will crumble beneath your might. Don’t be that guy. Focus on trying something new and be willing to change the set-rep range or the weight you have been using. Experiment with other options by challenging the status quo of the training parameters and know that when you are experimenting, you may get bad results as well as good results.

If you are stuck on something don’t be too enthusiastic to switch the lift out for something else – especially if you are deeply passionate about that lift. Try to change the existing training parameters first before you add exercises or take any other drastic action.

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