After my less-than-glorious attempt to nail some new PRs this past weekend, I took an active rest day and recovered mentally in anticipation of starting my new program - The Candito 6 Week Strength Program, which available online for free at this link. Pretty amazing!
This program is absolutely wonderful, because it's based on the theory of periodization, which is basically the idea that you need to challenge your body in a variety of ways in order to continue to see adaptations (aka: progress). If you lift maximally every time you train for weeks on end you're likely to hit a plateau, or even lose some progress. Just the same, if you are always lifting moderate weight for higher reps you're never going to see strength gains. The key is to practice multiple styles of training in a systematically varied program. The Candito program is just that, and it is geared specifically to gaining strength. See below:
Week 1 - muscular conditioning
Week 2 - muscular hypertrophy
Week 3 - linear intensity over time
Week 4 - heavy weight acclimation and explosiveness
Week 5 - intense strength training
Week 6 - deload
Week 7 (for me) - peak; THE MEET!
The styles, intensity, and frequency of the exercises varies week to week with the goal of making me stronger in the end than when I started. Perfect. And, it's even more perfect, because I will be at the peak phase (my body's strongest point, the "peak", throughout the program) right at the time of my meet. Just in time to smash some new records!
Another amazing feature of this program is that, since it's periodized as you see above, it can be repeated. Often. You could literally cycle this 6 week program for the entire year since it has a built in deload week. It gives you plenty of rest days to do cardio, ab work, or restorative exercises, and there are plenty of supplemental exercises programmed so that you aren't just wearing out the Big 3.
Lastly, this program works with, rather than against, the mentality of the lifter. Some programs like 5x5 (where you do 5 sets of 5 reps of the big lifts and add 5 pounds to the bar) can really drain the lifter as the workouts get harder and harder, and therefore less and less achievable, as they go. Some people work well in this kind of structure. Other people, like me, work better in a more varied and achievable, but still challenging, structure. The Candito program is exactly that; challenging, varied, achievable, and rewarding. It sets a high bar of expectation with the work you're going to be doing (which is personalized based on your own 1RMs on the lifts), but it's a bar that CAN be reached and often times surpassed. It leaves you feeling accomplished and confident after the workout rather than beaten down and worked to the bone.
Mentality is a wickedly huge component of weight lifting and powerlifting.
(See more about the program here. Click on the PDF "overview" of the program.)
My Experience with the Program So Far
I've completed two lifting days of the muscular endurance portion, and I already feel the positive effects of the mentality it's put me in. I've done all three of the Big 3 lifts, and it's going really well. I won't lie; when I first looked at the weights and reps I was going to be doing I was skeptical that I'd be able to complete the sets fully, but I did it. I smashed it, even. I surprised myself, and it felt really great.
I really really REALLLY needed that confidence boost after such a lousy mock meet this past weekend. I hope it continues to go well, and now I have my brand new belt (and deadlift socks) to try out! ^_^