The Sine Wave of Strength

Strength training exists on a Sine wave. I believe this to be the case with drug-free lifters beyond the novice stage of training. This is not a major concern for general exercisers,this is something for those that train with the specific purposes of strength,power and hypertrophic adaptations.


According to Mark Rippetoe “a novice lifter is a trainee who is so unadapted to the stress of lifting weights that he can make progress as rapidly as he can stress himself and recover, a process that actually takes no more than 48-72 hours.”

My current program requires 4 days per week and engages four of the five basic barbell exercises found in Coach Rippetoe’s famous Starting Strength program. Unlike Starting Strength, my program focuses only on one core lift with 3-5 assistance exercises per session. The intent of my program is to increase absolute strength (I.E. the most weight I can lift for a single repetition.) therefore my sets and rep schemes differ greatly.

SIDENOTE: In my opinion Starting Strength is one of the books that should be considered mandatory reading for new personal trainers entering the field…unless they plan on skipping the development of strength and focusing more on general exercise.

After three weeks (12 sessions) CNS fatigue symptoms began to manifest. Broken Sleep,Lack of appetite,Although morale seemed good, I often felt flat.Decreased or stalled performance. Sub-maximum loads felt far heavier than they should have.

I would like to note that overtraining is an INDIVIDUAL THING. For me it was three weeks before my Sine Wave altered. Another person might be able to go 6 weeks without issue, another might not be able to finish a week and some wont even be psychologically able to attempt this type of training. You have to know yourself, or your coach needs to be the attentive type.  A number of people likely don’t overtrain (as it takes a fair bit of hard work to reach a level of overtraining) they under-recover,under-eat or under-sleep.

A one week de-load was taken. I maintained my training schedule and continued training the core lifts but using different variations,lowered loads,greater volume and switching the assistance exercises to ones that work the same segment or muscle group. I continued eating the same amount of food as I do on my high-intensity days and worked to get my sleep schedule back on point.

In many exercises during my de-load I worked well into the Hypertrophy(Bodybuilding) range and 100 to 200 reps in an exercise wasn’t uncommon. To another trainer it might appear as if I was doing some form of a “Bro Lifts” program. Personally I viewed it as restorative, both physically and psychologically.

Within my first week back to the high-intensity training (1-3 rep range) I hit personal records in all core lifts including a lifetime record in the military press. I actually broke two Military Press PR’s, one based on volume and the other on absolute load…I broke my self-imposed rule and chased a second PR on a single exercise.

I have two more weeks remaining in this cycle and will decide at that point where the next logical progression should head. I have already created a rough draft of one or could try running another three block on my current program.


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