The Guide To Training The RNT Way…

The Guide To Training The RNT Way…

Everything you need to know in order to get the most out of your programme

Ed Pilkington Ed Pilkington · 01 Oct 2021

Training Beginner
16 Mins

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How To Read Your Programme

Order

The order of each exercise is displayed with a number, and possibly a letter. It’s very important you follow the order of each exercise correctly to get the desired training effect. In some parts of the program, the exercises will be paired, e.g.:
In this example, you complete one set of bench presses, rest 60 seconds, then complete one set of leg presses. You then rest another 60 seconds before returning to the bench press again. For this example, you will do 3 total sets, before moving onto the second pairing..

If it’s just numbered 1, 2, 3 etc., then just complete straight sets, with no pairing in between.

Rep Ranges

Repetitions will either be written as a fixed target, e.g. 4 sets of 6, or will be written within a range, e.g. 4 sets of 6 to 8. To learn how to pick the right weight, when to add weight and how to execute your sets, check this article out.

Rest Periods

Stick to the rest periods outlined, no chatting too much in between sets, but at the same time, don’t rush to do the next set before you have rested sufficiently. The key rule is that if you can do your next set with equal or greater intensity than your last set, you’re ready. If your goals are more strength / hypertrophy based, rushing your rest periods, unless specifically stated, will be counterproductive to your goals. 

Tempo

These won’t always be written. As a general rule you should always control the weight in the lowering phase, and lift explosively while maintaining great form.

If it is listed, the tempo outlines the speed of the exercise. Every exercise has four phases to it: the lowering, the time between lowering and lifting, the lifting, and the time between lifting and lowering.

Let’s take the example of a bench press on a 3110 tempo. You will lower the bar in 3 seconds, pause 1 second on your chest, lift up explosively in 1 second, lock it out and lower it immediately.

When training, pay attention to the tempo, but do not let it be the main focus of your training! The last thing we want you to do is to count out loud whilst training, as this will distract you from the actual execution of the repetition itself. We want you to use it as a guideline, and generally speaking, you should be lowering the weight slower than you lift.

Notes Section

On each program, there will be a notes section. This will be any additional notes we want you to consider when executing that specific exercise.

Making the Program Work

The number one key to making this program work is to adhere to the principle of progressive overload.

You must push yourself hard and strive to improve on your performance each time you step into the gym.

How can we do this?

  • Add weight to the bar.
  • Lift same load more reps.
  • Lift same load with better form, more control, less effort, more ROM.
  • Lift same load and reps with less rest time between sets.
  • Lift same load with more speed and acceleration.
  • Do more work in same amount of time, or same work in less amount of time.
  • More sets with same load and reps.
  • Doing the same work at a lighter bodyweight (this is especially applicable for those who are aiming to maintain their poundages during fat loss phases – it is still progress!)

As you can see, progressive overload can be achieved in a number of different ways. Always remember, improvements in form will always come first, and increasing reps and load come second. The top three on the list are the most important, but do not discount the others as valid ways to progress.

Progressive overload will never be linear. The key is to be able to do more over time. So if you are lifting the same weights you were 6 months ago, progress will be very hard to come by!

To track progressive overload, you need to master form and then perform lifts the same way each time. Bouncing reps, a little added body English, cutting depth and rounded backs can all contribute to ‘perceived progress’, but there will be very little actual muscle overload there.

Importance of the Log Book

‘The palest ink is better than the clearest of memories’ – Tommy Kono, Weightlifting legend.

To track your progress, you must keep a log book. This can be in the form of a notebook, filling in the spreadsheet in real time or simply printing out the spreadsheets and filling it in.

A well-kept training journal will allow you to monitor your progress and help us both evaluate your progress. It will also help set both short and long term goals in your lifting, which are essential in keeping motivation high.

In fact, clients who achieve the best results are those who fill their spreadsheets, make detailed notes and consistently aim to apply the rules of progressive overload. This allows me to review their logs prior to writing their next phase, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and help set goals.

Rules of the log book: 

  • Be as honest as possible. Don’t count half reps or reps done with poor form.
  • Make sure your training conditions are the same. If you are feeling ill, or need to rush the workout in less time, these are different circumstances that are not comparable to your normal workout.
  • Review it prior each workout. Check what you did last time, and know what you need to achieve this time. Use it as a written motivator. You must beat your last workout!

Finding the Right Weight

When getting into training, or performing a new exercise, it can be hard to know what weight to use. Using adequate resistance is vital in ensuring we provide the muscle with the required stimulus to grow, but we also need to be wary of using excessive weight to avoid breakdowns in form and/or injury. Rather than worrying too much about the actual weight though, I want you to focus on your form and the rep range as they will determine the weight that you can use.

When you apply good form to your prescribed rep range then you will find what weight is appropriate. For example, if your rep range is 8-12 then you just need to find a weight that you can use to perform anywhere between 8-12 reps with, using good form.

In order to build up to that weight, I would recommend using warm up sets. Warm up sets are submaximal sets that allow you to practice the movement and gauge how heavy the weight feels. When doing this you will increase the weight across your warm up sets, while decreasing the amount of reps that you are performing. This will balance preparing you for exercise, with also minimising the accumulation of fatigue. If you were to use 20kg for Split Squats then this might involve something like..

BW x 10

5kg x 7

10kg x 5

15kg x 3

First working set - 20kg

The number of warm up sets that you do will be specific to the individual and exercise. By using warm up sets you will have increased circulation, practiced the movement and primed your nervous system for what is to come with your working sets, which means that they provide everything you need from a warm up. Therefore, unless you have any specific requirements, I would recommend just using warm up sets to prepare you for your working sets.

Don’t worry if for the first couple of sessions the weights that you select aren’t exactly right. The more sets that you do the better idea you will get of what weights you should be using and you can adapt accordingly.

How Should You Progress?

In order to keep your training as safe and effective as possible, I would recommend making good form a priority. Once this is in place, keep it as a non-negotiable.

From here, look to progress your reps with the weight you are using until you get to the top of your rep range. For example, if your rep range is 8-12 and you are currently lifting 10kg for 8 reps, keep your weight the same until you are able to perform 12 reps with that weight. At this point, increase the load by the smallest increment possible. This will likely result in a drop in the number of reps you are able to complete, but that’s fine. Stick with the new weight and look to push your reps back up to the top of your rep range again and repeat the process.

When looking at progressions, view each set on its own and compare it to the last time that you did it. For example, set 1 this week v set 1 last week. This will ensure that you are looking to progress each set you do and not end up with multiple sets of the same reps, using the same weight.

You won’t be able to progress every set of each session but as long as you’re moving your reps up, increasing the weight when required and repeating the process over time then you will see good changes over a 3-6 month period.

In order to implement the progressions mentioned your effort levels will need to be high. Therefore, I recommend taking each set you do to technical failure. This means that you finish each set you do when you're no longer able to perform another rep with good form.

Executing Key Movement Patterns

To make the most improvements to your physique, you want to execute all exercises with the best form possible. The below will give quick bullet point tips for each movement pattern that can be integrated to immediately improve your training.

I also highly recommend you to check out our exercise library here, which you can also access from our YouTube channel (search ‘RNT Fitness’ followed by the exercise name). We’ve filmed every exercise from two different angles with the three most important cues to execute them with.

Squat Variations

1. Go as low as you can WITHOUT tucking the pelvis. Your back should be flat throughout. If you struggle to reach parallel without this, there may be a few things going on: technical, mobility, bracing, stance width etc. If it’s in your program, and you can’t reach parallel with good form, please send a video for analysis.
2. Take a big breath through your belly at the top of the rep, brace, and hold it as you go down. Exhale on way up once you pass your typical sticking point.
3. Tighten your upper back as hard as possible and keep elbows below the bar.
4. ‘Screw’ your feet into the floor to activate hips and glutes.
5. ‘Feel’ your feet on the floor. The ball of your foot, point under little toe and your heel should all be in firm contact with the floor. You should never be coming up on your toes.
6.On the way up, think chest up and drive your hips to lockout.

Single Leg Variations

1. Think train tracks, not tight rope. When setting yourself up before lifting, assume a train track, parallel stance to ensure maximal balance, strength and stability.
2. Keep spine in neutral position.
3. Push through your front heel.
4. Squeeze the glutes on the trailing leg.
5. Keep your back heel lifted and straight.

Deadlift Variations

1. Keep a neutral spine!
2. Take a big breath through your belly at the start, and brace hard. This will do more to protect your back than anything.
3. Keep your head neutral and chin tucked.
4. To activate your lats, think about ‘protecting your armpits’ from someone tickling you’. This will tuck your elbows in and activate lats, protecting spine and increasing recruitment.
5. At the top of all deadlift variations, think about driving your hips into the bar as hard as possible.

Pressing Variations

1. Get your shoulders blades back AND down. This will lift your sternum up and arch your back, which is what you want.
2. Squeeze the bar as hard as possible at all times.
3. Drive your feet into the floor on the lifting portion of the rep. Your legs should be screwed into the floor, and immoveable.
4. Keep elbows at around 45 degrees to the body. Unless stated, do not flare your elbows right out when pressing.

Pulling Variations

1. Think about pulling with your elbows, not your hands. Think of your hands as just hooks onto the bar.
2. Lift chest up, arch back and drive elbows back behind you.
3. Keep shoulder blades back and down at the end of the rep.
4. If you can’t pause in the contracted position, it’s too heavy.
5. Squeeze your little two fingers as hard as possible on the bar to activate more lats.

Three Keys of Safe, Strong Lifting

When performing your big, compound lifts, think squats, deadlifts, overhead presses for example, there are three things you need to be aware of:

  • Breathing
  • Bracing
  • Grip

Breathing and Bracing

These two come hand in hand together, and are absolutely vital in keeping your spine healthy, and providing a strong midsection to support a heavy squat and deadlift. Every time a client implements correct breathing and bracing, they will almost always improve their strength, stability and confidence in the lift. A strong brace will be your own weightlifting belt!

To breathe correctly, you should be inhaling into your stomach and lower back first, and think about creating 360 degrees of pressure around your midsection. You should NOT be breathing into your chest.

Once you have taken a big belly breath, you should lock it in and brace hard. It’s important to know that bracing all begins with the breath, and in order for the brace to be effective, you need to make sure you start in a neutral spine position.

In the example of a squat, take a big belly breath at the top, brace and then descend. You should keep your brace during the entire lift, and exhale after the sticking point on the ascent.

Grip

In everything you do, it’s imperative you use a strong grip. Whether it’s pressing a bar, rowing a dumbbell or holding onto the squat bar, you should always actively be trying to squeeze the bar as hard as possible.

This will create what’s known as an irradiation effect, and increase stability and strength throughout your body.

In an example of a press, never just let the bar ‘sit’ in your hands. You should squeeze it as hard as you can! By doing so, you will notice increased stability in your shoulders, which in turn will help protect you from injury.
Ed PilkingtonEd Pilkington

Ed Pilkington is RNT’s Head of Performance, where his entire focus is delivering the best possible results for RNT members. Having worked in three different countries over the past decade, Ed brings to the table a unique perspective as one of our leading coaches. He is driven by the desire to leave a legacy through our collective impact and visions, whilst making an industry he nearly quit out of frustration (before joining us) a whole lot more credible.

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