Table of Contents - Introduction
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INTRO: A Few Points
Preface: I've prepared a more detailed "Training Primer". It's probably 20 minutes of reading and will really get people who are unfamilliar with this stuff up and running ahead of some of the training theory topics (which I honestly don't believe most people read even though they are by far the most valuable information on this site).
First: If you don't have a solid grasp of training theory i.e. for
example you can't explain "Single vs. Dual Factor Theory" and have gotten most
of your knowledge from magazines, you really need to read some of the Training
Theory articles, particularly the ones marked with an "***...***". The bottom line
is that what passes for training information printed in those magazines is in my
mind criminal to publish. Essentially, we have mindless 'routines' with no
thought to planning, the control of standard variables (frequency, volume,
intensity), nor any plan for progression or tailoring a load to an individual.
For anyone but a raw beginner it is going to be very difficult to make
progression on such a program. Believe me, 99.9% of the training in
bodybuilding and fitness magazines is regarded as too sad to be considered a
laughing stock. Much of what one sees in those magazines are individuals
who simply compensate for poor training and knowledge by taking enough anabolics
(often frightening amounts) to get results from bad and poorly planned stimulus.
This is where the "It's 90% diet" came from - which is true for a dedicated
human chemistry set but not the case for a natural athlete (or one who uses
moderate amounts of anabolics) nor anyone with performance criteria other than
hypertrophy/muscle (i.e. think about drugged cows in the field, they grow a lot
of muscle on just food with no exercise - start some random resistance exercise and
managing their diet and you have bodybuilding cattle).
Single vs. Dual Factor: People should realize that the dual factor program is set up for decently experienced lifters. The workload and frequency requires that one has been training for a good period of time and the lifts are second nature. The periodized version here is meant for someone who has been squatting, deadlifting, rowing, and pressing consistently for a good period - generally 1-2 years of solid training (or what I would call solid, meaning a lot of guys with years of experience don't qualify). Novices and people without a very solid foundation will get faster and more consistent results without unnecessary complication there a well organized single factor/linear supercompensation model. To be honest, even most of the guys training 4-5 years or more who wind up on this forum that squat at most 1x per week would be best using the single factor version, you'd be amazed what more frequency and specificity in the core exercises can do for your physique and progress. As an example, don't be one of those guys who rides a bike a mile to school 3 times a week and then wonders why they wind up overtrained or with tendonitis because they jump right into 20 mile rides 5x per week. Anyone can do that mileage, but it is the massive jump in training volume all at one time which can cause trouble.
The Program: This isn't my program and despite some pretty constant effort on my part my name still got attached to it when in reality it's a rehash of what Bill Starr, Mark Rippetoe, and Glenn Pendlay have done. The dual factor version is setup for what I typically might start at with an intermediate trainee who is accustomed to training the core lifts at decent frequency. Essentially, I need a base point to gauge workload tolerances that will still yield results and won't kill a high percentage of the population. The "5x5" is simply one of the best all purpose tools and can be laid out with common exercises and easily arranged for more or less volume (and the clear layout makes it intuitively easy to grasp this progression). As people will see from reading the main 5x5 description (particularly the advanced section of the post), and all the info below on tolerances, loads, etc...a good coach tailors a program for a specific individual. In most cases, people here are their own coaches so this provides a sort of starting point that has proven to be very effective across a broad range of experienced lifters. If people are looking for a description or overriding theme: specificity and focus on a group of core exercises that will drive full body progress; progressive loads; proper management of frequency, volume, intensity (i.e. training load) to force adaptation while accounting for fatigue accrual.
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