by STEVE KPA
When you want to get better at something, you practice and you make sure that you practice as best and as regularly as possible given your circumstances. This is true in all aspects of your life. With training, however, a lot can get confused when trying to build good habits for your health and fitness goals. Today’s post is aimed at addressing the two variables that are the main players in sound, sustainable improvement when taking on a training regimen: progression and frequency.
From the small picture to the larger picture of training, progression(s) should rule your programming. Whether you’re learning how to master a movement, get stronger, get faster, or training for an event, optimal improvement is a tedious step-by-step proces. An effective program is built on 1) proper progressions for your individual starting level, 2) driving the needed adaptations for your specific goal(s) over time, and 3) mitigating the risk of injury and/or unnecessary burnout. Given that most everyone comes in at a different starting level, every aspect of your training should be based on graded exposure given your rate of learning and adaptation (e.g., strength, endurance, volume, intensity, mobility, nutrition, etc.). A basic example is progressive overload
How many times a week do you squat? How often do you run or sprint? Another often overlooked variable in training is frequency. One of the main reasons it can be overlooked is that it requires you to be constantly vigilant about the bigger picture of your training over the weeks, months, and years. Just like progressions, frequency within a program is dictated by both your rate of adaptation and recovery. The better you adapt and recover over time, the more frequency you can take in a training session, week, and cycle. When you improve and increase your threshold on a given training domain, you have to regularly increase the demand of that domain to continue the upward trend of the desired adaptation. Of course, this is done over time with necessary variation and rest periods.
You can see then why the more things you try to master at a time, the more difficult it becomes to manage effectively and make timely progress. If you want to get better at something, training without some kind of systematic logic is not going to get you there; you need a program. When proper progressions are paired with proper doses of frequency in an intelligent program, improvements come more regularly with lowered risk of injury and burnout. In the end, it is a constant effort between you and your coach to determine your needs and optimal dosage over time.
Quality. Intensity. Frequency.
Originally posted to the Anchored Strength & Conditioning blog on 14 January 2016.
Steve Kpa is the owner and head coach of Anchored Strength & Conditioning in Milpitas, CA.