PROGRESSIVE PERFORMANCE STRATEGY
Finish your workouts on a high and take your muscle-building efforts to new heights
By Francis Benfatto Photographs by Gary Phillips
Progressive Performance (PP) is a training method which allows you to finish every workout at a peak by progressively improving mental and physical capability and output throughout the workout. Top sports coaches and elite athletes alike realise the importance of finishing on a high in order to achieve and sustain continuous progress and bodybuilding is no different.
The goal of applying a progressive performance strategy to your workouts is to achieve progression throughout your training session in the form of an increase in intensity, i.e. an increase in weight and/or reps with each succeeding set, while simultaneously experiencing an improved mind-muscle connection, a better muscle sensation and a steadily increased muscle pump throughout the workout. The sensation of better connecting with your body throughout the workout provides positive mental reinforcement leading to even greater training intensity as the workout progresses. The PP programme is designed to obtain these positive results and is particularly well suited to novice athletes still trying to develop the mind-muscle connection and neuromuscular coordination required to exert the extreme intensity and effort required to optimise muscle gain.
Successfully implementing a Progressive Performance Strategy (PPS) involves combining four complementary physical qualities in order of difficulty to induce maximum performance. This regular and predictable progression will act as a mental booster, reinforcing self-confidence and mental and physical capacity throughout the workout. These four physical qualities are strength, power, endurance of strength and strength of endurance. These four qualities can be clearly defined with three complementary training components: appropriate resistance, proper number of reps and precise rate of speed. The accuracy of these training components depends on the strict execution of the exercises, with exercise form being the core and the catalyst for effectively implementing all training components. Without executing each exercise in perfect form, optimal results can never be achieved using my progressive performance strategy. The following are key components of perfect form:
- A full range of motion – going from one full extension to one full contraction under strict control.
- Performing at a relatively slow rate of speed.
- Using appropriate resistance and repetitions.
- Contracting along the appropriate line of pull, in proper alignment and using the best possible angle of work to favour perfect muscle sensation and pump.
- Performing all working sets to positive muscular failure where the completion of another full rep in perfect form is impossible despite your greatest efforts.
Implementing a Progressive Performance Workout Strategy
Strength is achieved when appropriate resistance allows 6 to 8 reps to be performed at a relatively slow pace during both the eccentric and concentric movements, using correct form until complete muscle failure. Perform 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps for strength. Power occurs when appropriate resistance allows for 6 to 8 reps to be performed at a relatively fast rate during the concentric portion of the movement only, again using perfect form until complete muscle failure. Only use more speed when needed during the set or, if you prefer, when the weight becomes difficult to move. Perform 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps for power.
Endurance of strength occurs when the appropriate resistance allows 10 to 12 reps, performed at a relatively slow pace during both the eccentric and concentric movements, using correct form until complete muscle failure. The challenge is to perform 2 consecutive sets using the drop-set training technique. Do 5 to 6 reps then drop the weight and perform an additional 5 to 6 reps to complete muscle failure. Do 2 to 3 (dropsets) for endurance of strength.
Strength of endurance occurs when the appropriate resistance allows 8 to 10 reps performed at a relatively fast pace during the concentric phase only, again using perfect form until complete muscle failure. The challenge is to perform 2 or even 3 consecutive sets which can be done using the rest-pause training technique if necessary: do either 4 to 5 reps (rest-pause) plus 4 to 5 reps or alternatively 3 to 4 reps (rest-pause) plus 2 to 3 reps (rest-pause) +plus 2 to 3 reps. Perform 2 to 3 (rest-pause) sets for strength of endurance.