FORTITUDE - September 2005 - Issue #6

Welcome to the sixth issue of FORTITUDE!

Just note there was no August Fortitude newsletter, a very busy month as I made my transfer to Wall Street Equinox. I am so excited to be here with some of the best people!

Message of the month: Training for Optimal Results - Progression

I have seen many gym members training on a consistent basis, following a routine that they feel comfortable with. For example you may come in three days per week to do chest and triceps on Monday, back, shoulders, and biceps on Wednesday, and legs on Friday with cardiovascular training on Tuesday and Thursday. Or perhaps you're in 5 days a week and spend 45 minutes on the elliptical.

After three weeks you start seeing results, which means you're doing the right thing - so obviously you should follow this same routine, but maybe push a little harder to attain continued results - right? Wrong! But why?

Your body is designed to adapt to new stressors placed on it, so when you follow an exercise program that does not have enough variation, you will accommodate to the program. Accommodation occurs when the body stops making changes, and is also known as a plateau - in effect, you no longer get results. Which can lead to frustration, overtraining, injury and/or a cancelled membership - which is historically what happens to 33% of gym members after a mere 12 weeks! Insanity has been defined as trying to get different results by doing the same thing. Don't let this happen to you.

Instead of falling into the trap of accommodation, you must stay slightly out of your comfort zone in order to stimulate adaptation. If you are in a constant state of adaptation, it means your body is making changes from the exercise program you are following, and you are obtaining results.

How long does it take to go from adaptation to accommodation? According to the research it takes an average of six weeks to accommodate. So what does this all mean? Your exercise program must change at least every six weeks in order for you to continually obtain results. You need to change the variables so you are constantly challenging yourself. Some variables that you can change are: number of sessions, number of exercises, number of sets, rest intervals, number of reps, range of movement, support during movement, joints working, velocity of movement, intended velocity of movement, load, stability, position of the load, grip, stance, direction of your movement, type of load (for example, in order of increasing difficulty: barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, sandbag, water-filled barrel), plus many others.

Designing a program utilizing fluctuations in these variables is key for optimal results and a full training effect. Program design is limited to your creativity and expertise in exercise science. Great personal trainers spend their careers developing exacting progression routines for our clients so that they may obtain speedy, permanent results - which keeps them coming back to us for more.

The change you create at regular time intervals in your program to promote constant results is called periodization. A good training program is structured around training phases lasting from one to three months. Let's now look at a sample program and progress it. For the first three weeks this person does 15 reps, which we will call the conditioning phase... after which they're ready for the strength phase. To make the strength phase progressive we will change the focus for each day. We'll set up a ten-day cycle as follows:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10










































After completing day ten we will start over with day one the following Thursday. In this strength phase the focus is compound exercises, which are exercises involving two or more joints. Here some exercises to choose for the strength phase:







Total Body

Leg Press


Flat Bench Press

Military Press

Sit Up

Clean & Press


Cable Row

Incline DB Press

KB Press

Reverse Crunch

Overhead Squat


Bent Over Row

Stand Cable Press

Scott Press

Straight Leg Raise

Push Press


Incline Pulldown

Elevated Pushup

DB Shrugs

Decline Sit Up

MB Pass Sit Up

Split Squat

1 Arm DB Row

1 Arm DB Press

DB Upright Row

Ab Wheel

DB Snatch


For this strength phase repetitions will be kept between six and 12. It is best to start with the higher repetition ranges and low load, before working towards lower repetitions and higher loads. Subsequent phases of training may include fat loss, hypertrophy (muscle mass), sports performance, endurance, etc. - depending on your particular goals.

As Confucius once said "Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change."
Until next time continuing training intelligently towards your goals and have a blast doing so!



"My heart and soul is vibrating like a volcano, and I am breathing like a dragon, The Fire of Life."