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There might just be something in this training less thing.

Training less to give you more. Is it 24 caret, solid gold genius or the ramblings of a lazy old man?

I’ve been experimenting with only doing a weights session twice a week as training less is about the only method of training that I haven’t attempted in 27 long years of hoisting iron.

It all started with a simple question that was asked of me by a newbie who had recently joined the gym. He asked, ” how much training do you have to do to get results?” It’s a simple enough question and one that I, and the guys that work for me, get asked most days. After all what most people who are brand new to exercise want to know is; what sort of training should I be doing? How often should I be coming to the gym? And, regretfully, what is a good exercise to give me a flat stomach? (FYI – I’m still looking for that mythical ab exercise, as soon as I hunt it down I’ll let you know.)

This time that most frequent of asked questions really got me thinking. How much training do you actually have to give a muscle for it to get bigger or stronger? If all a muscle needs is a bit of stimulation and then plenty of recovery to enable it to grow should I be training less? The problem is how much is a bit of stimulation? How many reps? How many sets? How many sessions per week? How many exercises?

Many, many questions.

It’s worth mentioning at this point in the proceedings that all of this musing and pondering is done purely for the purpose of me trying to maintain muscle whilst cutting body fat. If you are training to get fitter or for a specific sport then you do need to train with more frequency. However if you are a busy person with a hectic lifestyle and limited opportunities to hit the gym then, maybe, this way of training will allow you to have your cake and eat it.

Here is what I think –

  • If you stick to the basics of squat, bench and deadlift you can’t go far wrong.
  • The above exercises pretty much hit every muscle in the body which means you don’t need to much more in the way of assistance stuff.
  • Twice a week should do it. Squat and bench on one day. Deadlift and bench on another.
  • If I end up doing 400 sets of deadlifts once a week that will ruin my recovery just as well as training more frequently. Limit the deadlifts to 10 working reps, i.e – 1 x 5, 1 x 3, 1 x 2 reps or 5 x 2 reps. Do 4 sets of 10 on bench press. Squats can be 4 sets of 10 or 1 set of 30.
  • Limit the assistance work to pulldowns, shoulder press, curls and something tricepy for 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
  • For the body to be forced to respond and adapt it has to be challenged. On the bench press and assistance exercises take the last set to total, complete and utter failure. I don’t think that going to failure on squats and deadlifts is a great idea so just try to lift heavier each time.

This is what I’ve been up to so far:

Friday – weights day.

Squat – several warm up sets then 1 set of 30 reps with 100kg. This was quite unpleasant.

Bench press – 10 reps at 60kg. 10 reps at 80kg. 10 reps at 100kg. 10 reps at 115kg. Only the last set was taken to failure.

Lat pulldowns/military press/curls/pushdowns – 3 sets of 10 reps with the 3rd set taken to failure.

Saturday – cardio day.

10 min cycling.

Rowing – 1 x 500m, 1 x 400m, 1 x 300m, 1 x 200m, 1 x 100m. 1 min rest between sets. Horrible
Pad work – 2 x 2min rounds on the pads.

Circuit – medicine ball throws x 10, press ups x 10, elastic band rows x 20, pull ups x 5. Done for 3 circuits.

Monday – weights day.

Deadlift – 5 reps at 140kg. 3 reps at 160kg. 2 reps at 180kg.

Bench press – 10 reps at 60kg. 10 reps at 80kg. 10 reps at 100kg. 10 reps at 120kg. Last set taken to failure.

Pulldowns/military/curls and pushdowns – 3 sets of 10 reps with the last set taken to failure.

Tuesday –cardio day.

3 mins each on crosstrainer, bike, stepper and treadmill.

3 x 2min rounds on the pads.

Rowing – 1 x 300m, 1 x 200m, 1 x 100m.

Cycle grind – 5 mins at 60rpm on a very heavy level. Doing this pumps my legs up to an insane level and, so far, doesn’t stress my aged knees too much.

Walking on an incline – 10 mins.

I’ve only been doing this for just over a week, so it’s a little too soon to tell if this is going to work, or if I’m barking up the wrong tree. However, up to this point I’m feeling pretty good. It feels a little unusual not to be constantly aching from training, which is probably a good thing.
One thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve been getting a great pump when I do hit the weights – I guess that this is because I’ve managed to fully replenish my body’s glycogen reserves instead of running on empty like I usually do.

As much as I piss and moan about doing cardio training I’ve secretly been quite enjoying it. I’m looking forward to getting to the point where doing a cardio session doesn’t fill me with foreboding dread and misery. I can but dream.

Blood and guts,
Dave Carter.

  • Anonymous on September 6, 2011

    Really interesting Dave, I can definately see the reasoning behind it and think your definately on to something!!! 🙂 Tanya M

  • Anonymous on September 7, 2011

    2 days is plenty if programmed properly

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