PROGRESSIVE PERFORMANCE STRATEGY
Putting theory into practice
The PP method does not require that a bodybuilder be in his best condition (mentally and physically) to reach optimum performance. Any bodybuilder can achieve optimum performance if he follows the progressive performance programme appropriately. In fact the main purpose of the progressive performance programme is to awaken the latent power of energy during the progression of the workout. The warm-up phase is simply to improve initial mental and physical condition in a progressive manner in order to prepare for the increased level of intensity later in the workout.
You must determine the most appropriate resistance to use for the first warm-up set (20 reps), the second (15 reps/set) and finally the last (10 reps/set). Thereafter you will be better prepared, mentally and physically, to accurately select the most appropriate combination of resistance and reps for each future phase where you will work on the different physical qualities of strength, power, endurance of strength and strength of endurance.
"Using power, some concentric movements must be performed at a relatively fast rate, and mainly when difficulty is experienced in moving the resistance through the range of motion. Remember however that all eccentric movements must be performed relatively slowly."
Generally I prefer to start the first phase by working on the physical quality of strength as it requires less resistance than power. However, be aware that the effort demanded in the strength phase is probably more taxing, especially for the mind, because each rep must be performed slowly, in a controlled manner with perfect form. Strength needs more skill than power because it’s difficult to control the weight through the entire range of motion while maintaining a slow, steady pace, all in the perfect position to favour muscle sensation and pump from the start of the set right to the last rep where muscle failure occurs. The physical quality power in the second phase of the workout requires slightly more resistance. In fact power = strength + speed.
Using power, some concentric movements must be performed at a relatively fast rate, and mainly when difficulty is experienced in moving the resistance through the range of motion. Remember however that all eccentric movements must be performed relatively slowly. Progressing onto the third phase of the workout, the focus is on endurance of strength which again requires slightly more resistance than the power phase because it is possible to use the drop-set training technique that allows a heavier weight to be used at the start before dropping down in poundage.
The final phase works on strength of endurance which requires even more resistance than endurance of strength. This is made possible through the use of the rest-pause training technique. How long it takes to get the most out of my progressive performance workout strategy, effectively and efficiently moving through each phase, depends on your ability to stay focused during the entire training session. Therefore patience is vital if you want to succeed with the correct application of each and every training element in each of the four phases of my progressive performance programme. In order to further understand the value of PP, it is useful to consider the strategies employed by world-class track and field athletes (versus the typical bodybuilder).Successfully performing at their peak depends almost exclusively on their warm-up phase. In other words, their warm-up phase prepares them to perform at their highest level of effort in order to reach their peak performance towards the end of their training session. Therefore almost all top athletes spend most of their training time warming up and getting ready for optimal performances. Serious athletes who want to reach optimum performance know that they must be fully prepared and ready for maximum effort, and this can only happen if they spend adequate time warming up and working in a progressive manner towards their best performance. This physical and mental preparation that world-class athletes perform prior to delivering peak performances has been my inspiration in creating the PPS for bodybuilders in order to help them achieve optimal workout performances on a regular basis, irrespective of the mental and physical state they enter the gym in. As already explained, I have organised the PP method in order of difficulty, starting the programme with the least demanding level of physical and mental effort, then moving progressively to a specific point where optimal performance is inevitable towards the end of a workout.
This constant and controlled progression of difficulty throughout the workout is a strategy that can help anyone to adapt to ever more demanding and taxing effort. Whilst the PPS is the training approach that I recommend to everyone, from beginners and intermediates to advanced bodybuilders, it’s especially well suited to weekend warriors and older gym-goers who perhaps don’t have the same fitness and energy levels at the beginning of their training sessions as younger or more experienced athletes do.
The PP method will improve each and every one of your workouts when carefully applied, but to really succeed and have a perfect workout one must consider the importance of the mind, starting with the basic mind, body and muscle connection. By using visualisation and feel, you can achieve the best position for each bodypart and respective exercise thus improving training efficiency. That means finding the perfect angle of work to better isolate a muscle group, and then having a better muscle sensation and pump, which in turn fosters the necessary drive and motivation to push further and further during the set to achieve complete muscle failure When we exercise we really have to focus on connecting our mind with our muscle in order to sense the contraction and feel the movement. By ensuring a perfect mind-muscle connection, we are better able to identify or even anticipate situations and find solutions for them. The mind needs to be in a constant state of alertness, allowing one to appropriately regulate, adjust, modify and change elements of a training session, including form of execution, angle of work, alignment or body position, resistance, number of repetitions, rate of speed etc.
We are often not at our best prior to a workout, either mentally or physically; our desire to train hard can be low and we may even have good reasons not to train, for example being tired from the last workout or even from a draining day at work, or perhaps simply because we didn’t sleep well the night before. Nevertheless, even if you are in bad shape at the very beginning of your workout, don’t despair! Make sure you train anyway because I can guarantee that you will have a fantastic workout and feel better afterwards if you adopt and follow my PP programme.
During the entire application of the PP system, your form must be perfect because, as mentioned previously, it is the core and the catalyst that will help and direct, with a maximum level of accuracy, all your subsequent training efforts. In other words it will allow you to implement all the other training elements such as resistance, the number of sets and reps and the rate of speed, in the best way.
Below is a typical exercise selection for beginners, but these exercises can also be used by intermediates and advanced athletes:
- Leg extension for the quadriceps
- Lying or seated leg-curl for hamstrings
- Standing or seated calf raise for calves
- Low cable row for back
- Pec-deck for chest
- Dumbbell lateral raise for shoulders
- Pushdown for triceps
- Preacher curl for biceps
Both intermediate and advanced bodybuilders can use basic/compound exercises for large muscle groups and isolation exercises for smaller muscle groups, for instance triceps and biceps, calves and hamstrings (note – these last two muscles don’t really have true basic exercise choices). All you really need to succeed with the PP programme is an exercise that really works for you, one you feel at ease with and which gives you a great sensation and pump. It is up to you which exercises to choose but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter as long as you follow the Progressive Performance method to the fullest.