Lifting – Are you doing it right?

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What I’ve found is that even though there’s tons of information, trainers & gyms out there, the craze to ‘lift’ has been very blurred regarding the specific rep ranges and/or training phases. So I’ve put something together to provide you with more insight, as after all, the strength & power phases, when done correctly, are what get you the ultimate results.

What should be happening when you first start a resistance program whether with a trainer or by yourself…


The first phase is base conditioning, working on stability & flexibility while improving your movement patterns (I’ll put something later in the post) often with corrective training alongside to rid you of imbalances. The rep range is usually slightly higher 12-15 reps. It lasts 4-6weeks.

The program must change otherwise you’ll plateau (so yes at first it was an overload & stimulus but now serves you little purpose).

The second phase you should be going into is hypertrophy, here the reps will be 8-12 and you’ll load up your good movement patterns. 4 weeks, should be sufficient.

Phase 3 is strength as now not only your muscle, but your ligaments & bones have also developed. Doing 1-6 reps here with maximal weights, will challenge your neural systems & demand much higher muscle fibre recruitment. 4 weeks.

Phase 4 is your your power phase, this is when you do more advanced explosive exercise, depending on you goals maximal power or power endurance. Exercises would include snatches & squat cleans, however as this is your first time doing this, you might be working on high pulls, basic clean & push presses as the other movements might be too complex for your system. 4 weeks.

From here, it’s not uncommon to go into a month recovery phase, a bit of cross training & mixing it up, relax the mind and body before entering the next macrocycle (3-5 month program).

As you are more advanced now, your phases will be as follows…

Month 1Stability  ( 8-12 reps )
Month 2Strength  ( Lower end of 1-6 ) 
Month 3Power

*Lifting refers to heavy strength exercises like deadlifts & power exercises as snatches*

Here’s a bit more science for those wanting to learn more…

MAKING IT FUNCTIONAL & EXERCISE PRESCRIPTION.

The primal movement patterns

1. Squat
2. Lunge / Step
3. Bend
4. Push
5. Pull
6. Twist

It’s all in your head!

What do I mean by this?…well all patterns of movement are stored in the Central Nervous System (CNS). Whenever we want to do something, the CNS directs our muscles and joints. However, if there is a barrier, such as pain or limited flexibility, the CNS will choose alternative muscles to use. Unfortunately the pattern chosen may not be necessarily efficient, normal or pain-free!

What is a movement pattern?

A movement pattern is a specific sequence of muscle activation. Any movement can be described as a pattern. Any pattern is developed through habitual use and stored in the CNS. The CNS does not evaluate any movement patterns, it only stores. Unless there is some effort to change a faulty pattern, then it will continue to be used.

Patterns in the fitness setting

A faulty pattern is not a question of isolated muscle weakness that can be corrected by strengthening alone. An understanding of movement patterns and their role in basic body movement enhances fitness assessment and program design.

Concepts of exercise prescription

• Overload – for adaptation, a stress must exceed the present functional capacity of the system
• Progression – to generate ongoing adaptation, the stress always exceeds the functional capacity of the system
• Regression – an unstressed physiological system will return to pre-stress functional levels
• Specificity – adaptations are specific to the particular stress and system stressed
• Periodisation – temporarily concentrating on improving one aspect of fitness whilst maintaining others

Muscular adaptation to exercise

• Neural [strength] – adaptation leading to increase in strength gains and also improved relationship of group muscle action
• Morphological (shape, size) [Hypertrophy] – increase in size of muscle fibres
• Metabolic – increased energy stores and energy production

1. Strength gains = 1-6 reps at 100%-90%
2. Size and shape = 8-12 reps at 90%-75%
3. Metabolic = 12-20 reps at 75% – 60%

*These rep ranges are only a guideline and you have to always remember the individual. Dependent on genetics, training motivation, experience, level of fitness, sport played and type of training technique.

Hope this assists you & Happy Lifting!

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