This is Nathan writing. Through this document you can download my current 13-week training cycle. As of writing this I am 4 weeks into the program.
A switch up in my program
Commonly, I follow the same base program for 6-9 months. In 2018, I followed a plan that was heavily focused on running. At the same time, it had a single, high intensity day of lifting, a resistance based conditioning day, and two days of light to moderate effort gymnastics/calisthenics work.
Over the course of 2018, I ran 1000+ miles, or 19+ miles per week. My high weeks were in the mid-30s, while my low weeks were in the 10-15 range. The program was the most aggressive running program in which I ever engaged, and the most comprehensive program I ran in some years. The mileage is considerable, though far from the most ever run by a person in a single year.
At the same time, I improved my lifting, calisthenics, and mobility. My Olympic lifts reached the highest one-rep maxes ever, I improved calisthenics moves such as max handstand hold as well as max handstand push-ups, and pushed my mobility to the best ever. The programming for the year was a success.
The entire year of training was very similar and the last six months virtually identical to each other in basic layout, though specifics changed to some degree. For example, heavy lifting occurred on Monday, conditioning resistance occurred on Tuesday, running happened Wednesday- Friday (with an occasional run on Tuesday), and calisthenics occurred Saturday-Sunday.
In my experience with clients as well as my personal programming, I found that someone can complete the same program for 6-9 months before maxing out the adaptations if they are training hard. If not training hard, a person will be able to follow the same program for a longer period. However, from a mental standpoint, 6-9 months seems to be the upper end of what someone can handle, meaning even if the adaptations are still occurring, a change may be necessary.
Running the same program does not mean doing exactly the same thing each week. Some variation in exercises, volume, load, speed, and other variables will occur, but the overall base design of the program will remain the same. Changes occur based on progress or situation factors such as schedule, but should not significantly change the program; if significant change needs to occur, a new program should be designed, but I am getting off topic.
As far as my adaptations are concerned, progress had slowed by the end of 2018 but was still occurring. However, I was mentally ready for a change.
Ready to return to something with greater level of variation
Besides having run the upper end of adaptation in this program, I was ready for a program with greater variation. A constantly varied program is the best way to work on overall fitness. The more varied a program is, the more a person can test and push his or her fitness. For example, someone who runs may become a very good runner, but lack in strength or in ability to perform circuit training that is not cardio based.
A constantly varied program is not the best way to specialize in an area. To become a better runner, to maximize strength gains, or to reach another similar goal, a program specific to these areas is ideal. That is why I ran the running program which also had a strong focus on Olympic lifting on day per week and calisthenics two day per week. That said, I am at a place where I am comfortable with my running, lifting, and calisthenics. I am no longer focused on hitting goals such as a new 1RM or faster mile. However, I will continue to push myself in my training, meaning these areas will inevitably improve.
With all that in mind, I wanted to return to a constantly varied program, but also to something permanent. By permanent, I mean a forever program. That might seem odd, or even impossible, but it is not. I have a forever program for nutrition—intuitive eating. I do not focus on macros, calories, or other specifics, such as food timing. That said, I did focus on those areas for many years and now understand how to listen to my body. That statement means, that while I do not program these areas in my nutrition, these areas are accounted for by my natural intuitive eating patterns, which are engrained from years of experience and education. My training now follows a similar approach.
My program has a basic outline. For example, on Monday and Friday I generally work on singular areas, such as a heavy lift like the back squat, a gymnastics area such as handstands, or a specific run distance, such as a 10K. Tuesday-Thursday I generally focus on a single heavy lift and conditioning workouts, generally with couplets and triplets, which are pairing together two or three exercises respectively. The approach used is usually “rounds for time” or “as many rounds for time.” With this basic approach in mind I create my program and punch in areas on which to focus, being sure to keep the program varied, but to have enough repetition of movements to make progress. For example, I do not complete heavy cleans each week, but do work in cleans at least a couple times per month, either as heavy workout or part of a couplet/triplet.
The intuitive part means I may change the programming on a daily basis based on how I feel or if an area is lagging. For example, if I have heavy cleans paired with single unders and pistols, but my upper back is excessively fatigued, I may use light weight or omit the cleans. This is just an example, and many other changes could and do occur.
Some of you reading this may think “so you just randomly workout.” That is not true. Everything I do is with purpose. I do not go lighter or remove something just because I do not want to do it. I do not focus on areas more than others because I am good at these areas and do not want to focus on tough areas. Everything I do has purpose and I make sure to challenge myself in a safe manner that allows me to maintain or improve my abilities.
By having a basic outline and modifying intuitively over time, I have found my forever program, something I can follow for years yet still see progress and enjoy the program. The program is constantly varied to prevent boredom as well as build different aspects of fitness, repeats activities enough to provide sufficient stimuli to see progress, and I keep the intensity (difficulty such as speed or weight used) high enough to see progress.
My current program
At this link https://drive.google.com/file/d/1fsv-4x8NQ9n2ySb4-slHY4OGlHLhgKRK/view?usp=sharing is an Excel spreadsheet download of the program. Warm-up, cool downs, and the exact loading or speed I use is not included, but the basic outline of my program is.
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science. Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.