The Differences Between Beginner Training & Intermediates

Posted on December 28, 2016 in Progression, Sustainability, Training

As you may be able to tell by now, I’m very jealous of beginners mainly due to the enormous potential they have.

I think the journey and the process of improving is the most enjoyable part of weight training, and this is significantly reduced the more advanced you become. I HATE IT! 🙁

Intermediates
Beginner vs Intermediates…Beginner Weights 😉 https://www.flickr.com/photos/slgc/5442846299/in/

But anyway, the main difference is the speed of progression. True beginners can progress every workout, and slightly more advanced beginners (after about 6 months of training for most) can progress on a weekly basis.

For Intermediates, their working weights will progress every month or every 2 months. You need to start building work capacity as an Intermediate and incorporate some weakpoint work. This means bringing in some assistance movements.

Whereas as a beginner, it doesn’t matter what the hell you do. Just lift weights, add progressive overload and eat.

Beginners are weak everywhere so there’s no need for specialisation. Just get stronger. Learn the correct technique, eat plenty of food and add weight in the gym. Stick to compound movements mainly.

Intermediates may struggle to progress at a decent rate if they have severe weaknesses in a particular area. Some specialisation may be required. This could be Stiff-Legged Deadlifts to increase hamstring strength without the same level of neural stress from doing normal Deadlifts.

It could be focusing on Close Grip Bench Press instead of normal Bench Press in order to improve shoulder development, whilst still practising the technique for Bench Press (which you wouldn’t get doing Military Press).

Beginners also need frequency of practise on the main movements to build neural efficiency (which is horrible to start with) and confidence. Due to the frequency of practise, and the fact that they are starting from 0 volume, they don’t really need a great deal of volume per session to progress.

Intermediates on the other hand will need greater volume per session in order to stimulate enough of an adaptation to improve. This volume will need to be cycled on a weekly basis in order for it to be sustainable and prevent burnout.

As always with anything in life, including diet and training, the body & mind have an amazing ability to adapt to new stimuli. Therefore, small consistent change is the key to progression. This also ensures injuries are prevented and they’re completely unnecessary unless you’re training to potentially become a world champion.

 

 

 

  • Adam Frost

    For an intermediate looking to gain power to weight ratio, what would you recommend for the volume cycle? What sort of volume and what length cycle would you recommend?

    • Alex

      To be honest there’s loads of ways you could potentially tackle this, so it’s a very difficult question to answer.

      The main thing contributing towards power/weight ratio is a lack of body fat, so that’s going to be diet. If you’re already lean and want to get stronger, then as long as there is progressive overload (within the context of a small calorie surplus) you will achieve this.

      Progressive overload could be in terms of:

      Weight on the bar
      Number of sets
      Number of reps
      Decreased rest times
      (Or a combination)

      In terms of the total volume performed and length of the cycle, that’s going to depend on many, many factors so impossible for me to say – specifically your maximal recoverable volume. This takes time to figure out.

      I personally like to use 4 week cycles with a deload on the 4th week. This way you can add significant progression on a weekly basis, but you’re unlikely to over-train with a deload on the 4th week. But there are many ways to do this! 🙂

  • To be honest there’s loads of ways you could potentially tackle this, so it’s a very difficult question to answer.

    The main thing contributing towards power/weight ratio is a lack of body fat, so that’s going to be diet. If you’re already lean and want to get stronger, then as long as there is progressive overload (within the context of a small calorie surplus) you will achieve this.

    Progressive overload could be in terms of:

    Weight on the bar
    Number of sets
    Number of reps
    Decreased rest times
    (Or a combination)

    In terms of the total volume performed and length of the cycle, that’s going to depend on many, many factors so impossible for me to say – specifically your maximal recoverable volume. This takes time to figure out.

    I personally like to use 4 week cycles with a deload on the 4th week. This way you can add significant progression on a weekly basis, but you’re unlikely to over-train with a deload on the 4th week. But there are many ways to do this! 🙂