The Once & Future Novice - #402

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Lots of people execute novice programming repeatedly, and even in advanced programming a lift is being increased through novice programming. So, how do we think about novice programming, returning to it, and how it really differs from true advanced programming? Following MED programming principles, we follow a simple yet hard program because it is effective. The simplest program is the manipulation of one training variable. For a strength novice, typically, this means increasing intensity in a linear fashion while keeping other variables constant (volume, exercise selection, frequency). At the point at which you can no longer increase only one variable - when more than one variables have to be manipulated to progress - you are not a novice. Even on advanced programs, however, the simplicity of increasing the stress for a lift or lifts linearly through univariable manipulation typically makes sense. So, for example, you may have a supplemental squat lift on your deadlift intensity day on a 4-day split, even as part of block programming. You often increase the stress of this lift by simply adding weight to the same volume. Similarly, on a daily undulating periodization program, which is a type of concurrent programming where you train multiple physical attributes at once (hypertrophy, strength, power), you still add weight to the lifts in their respective slots. Lastly, a truly advanced lifter may have some advanced lifts but others that need to be progressed with novice programming. This may be because a lifter has focused on one lift while not training other lifts (e.g. someone benched all the time but only ever really did one leg day with machines, so their squats and deadlifts need novice programming). Another situation is post-injury where some lifts were affected but others could continue as normal. For many people, novice programming is simply a somewhat regular thing they accomplish because of life factors (vacations, business travel, sickness). The thing that brings people to advanced program is consistent training over a long enough period. If a lifter repeatedly has disruptions to training, linear progression will be something he returns to frequently. We may adjust what LP looks like, we may take bigger jumps and not grind it out as much, but some type of linear progression is the quickest way to return to previous strength levels - and surpass them.

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