Why Wednesdays

Program Design

Chris Ackland, Head Coach, Melbourne

22 August 2016

There are three key variables we can manipulate when designing a program: Frequency, Volume and Intensity. For the majority of the year you’ll only want to have two of the three as your focus. This will allow for a solid progression, with minimal risk of injuries. You can also play with short bouts of focusing on all three for quick results, but like anything, doing this too quickly carries a greater risk.

Frequency = How often you are training a movement or body part.
Frequency is a variable which I generally measure from week to week. During a block of training I may have four week blocks where the focus is on the squat, so my athletes will squat twice as frequent as they pull. An example of a high frequency program is “Squat everyday”. An example of a low frequency program is squatting once per week.

Group Shot.

Photograph by @acklland Unsplash

Volume = How many sets and reps, or total reps.
Volume can be measured in number of lifts for a particular movement or weight lifted for the week. Tracking these two variables can tell you if your volume is increasing or decreasing from week to week. An example of a high volume program is “German Volume training”, while an example of a low volume program would be peaking for strength sport competitions.

“You can also play with short bouts of focusing on all three for quick results, but like anything, doing this too quickly carries a greater risk.”

Volume = How many sets and reps, or total reps.
Volume can be measured in number of lifts for a particular movement or weight lifted for the week. Tracking these two variables can tell you if your volume is increasing or decreasing from week to week. An example of a high volume program is “German Volume training”, while an example of a low volume program would be peaking for strength sport competitions.

Intensity = How heavy your weights are.
Intensity can be measured by percentage of one rep max, if you’re lifting in the 85%+ range it would be considered high intensity.

Now lets look at a couple of phase options –

Hypertrophy Phase (gaining muscle) –

Low intensity : 60-75%
High volume: Rep range of 8-12 reps
High Frequency: 2-3x per week per movement or body part

Strength Phase (increase strength) –

High intensity: 75-85%
Medium volume: Rep Range 4-6 reps
Medium frequency: 1-2x per week per movement or body part

These are just some examples of the ways in which a program can be manipulated. Depending on what the goal is, as well as what the time in which to reach that goal is.

I hope you’ve enjoyed another week of why Wednesday

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