When it comes to getting stronger people are more familiar with slogans like “No Pain, No Gain” or “Go Hard or Go Home”and less familiar with the concept of “Minimum Effective Dose” and adequate recovery.
Just last week a private student who typically trains 3 days per week returned after one week, did a negligible warm-up then proceeded to absolutely smash personal bests in multiple lifts. She didn’t train during her time off, she relaxed and enjoyed herself. The new personal bests were the result of reduced stress and sufficient recovery. She got stronger by doing enough work, then recovering from it.
To some degree getting stronger is a matter of knowing the numbers and doing the math… If you knew for an absolute fact that the correct dosage for increasing your bench press by X lbs is to perform exactly 300 reps with 75% of your 1 rep max over the course of 4-weeks, then getting stronger becomes much simpler, doesn’t it?
In this regard Strength training is similar to following a recipe, if the recipe sucks or you have the wrong ingredients, trying harder won’t the meal taste any better.
The problem with programming, is that one-size does not fit all.
Every person is unique in terms of strength, experience, technique, stress levels, recovery, time available to train and so forth. When you know your student it becomes possible to write a program that actually works with less reps and total time training than one would think.
The following program was designed for the one arm kettlebell military press, but it has been used successfully with the double kettlebell press as well. It was intentional designed to be low volume, low stress.
Typically it used to turn a 3-rep max into 7-rep max in 12 workouts over 4-Weeks while using as few as 10 to 35 reps a day.
Over the course of one-month it only uses 250 total reps over the course of one month which keeps the stress very low and the training easy. Additionally, the program only assigns a total number of reps to accomplish each day and leaves the number of reps per set or ladder up to you, so depending on how you feel you can do or more less reps per set that day. Like I said… it’s easy. In fact, it so easy that both participants reported on more than one occasion that they didn’t believe it would work. ;]
The following low-volume pressing program was originally designed for an individual with the following considerations
- A three-rep max of 24kg in the one arm military press (OAMP).
- Low volume, and low stress.
- A set of kettlebells that included 24kg, 26kg and 28kg bells.
The original program took his 3-rep max and turned it into a 7 rep max.
Since then, I’ve created modified versions of the same program for other individuals based on their 3-rep max with equal or better success.