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Debate: Fully Structured Program or Training by Feel

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  • Debate: Fully Structured Program or Training by Feel

    Let's keep this respectful and on topic.

    How do you train?

    Fully structured - all of your days are set up including rep ranges etc.
    e.g. DC or 5-3-1?


    Semi Structured with more training by feel
    e.g. set up days of the week (mon-chest, tues back, etc) and just go in and train by feel - no set exercises or reps.

    What do you guys think are the benefits of both?

    I tend to cycle my training through both. I will go through a training cycle with every detail laid out, then i'll deload and come back without a plan and just train by feel and kill it that way.

    Your thoughts?

  • #2
    IMO, going by feel is really for advanced lifters....
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    • #3
      I use a structured plan that also incorporates some "instinctive" training. This can be misleading though and I think some pro's like the mystique that it creates. For example in my training I have four training levels. I ramp up the intensity on each level. The techniques I use can be changed on the go, but this is not done haphazardly; there has to be a reason behind it. After reaching the fourth level I have two workouts where we do a completely different king of training involving lighter weights. During these two training sessions the training could be considered more "instinctive", but again here there is always a goal in mind. I'll be posting an article on this training around the beginning of November.

      With all that being said I do like the mental break that a completely "instinctive" workout can provide, but I think if you are going to do this for a training phase and you want the best results then you need to have some way to be progressive and show that you are improving (ie. more weight, more reps, less rest between sets, more volume).
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      • #4
        only thing in my training that goes by feel is chins/dips.
        everything else is a big lift and has a method that is followed as best as possible.


        • #5
          Definetely structured for me, everything is laid out ahead of time. Now every once in a while if I feel really beat on a particular day, I may cut the volume down after my first movement.

          IMO the benefits :
          - holds you accountable for every single session
          - easily allows you to gauge your progress
          - allows you to get mentally prepared for each session ahead of time since you know exactly what you will be doing.
          - very conductive to goal setting ( short and long term )
          - makes it easier to tell what is working for you and what isn't
          - keeps you out of random " gym competitions " ( usually for the bench press )

          IMO benefits of training by feel: ( don't have a whole lot of expirience with this so it's a short list )
          - In a busy gym not waiting for equipment that you need to use because you can always make a game time decision of using a different excercise.
          - movement variety in general


          • #6
            Fully structured. With only 2.5 years of consistent lifting under my belt i really cant go in and know what would be best for me at that specific time.
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            • #7
              It totally depend on the training cycle I'm in. If it's meet prep then generally it's laid out or at least the main movement is and accessory work is done by feel. I think having a plan and going in to try and kill it is a great but you should always go by feel. There are days I go in and feel like donkey shit after the main exercise so I may cut sets and/or reps back, get some work in and get out or go in feeling like superman and do more than I plan. I guess all that comes with time and experience. Right now I'm giving my body a break and going in only with bodyparts in mind and everything else by how I feel and having great workouts. Just my$0.02
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              • #8
                I use a fully structured program unless returning from a long layoff and/or rehabing from an injury. In those cases I will go in with just an outline of bodyparts to be trained but choosing exercises that are "comfortable" just basically to jet the blood moving.
                IMO, if you are working toward a goal, you want to get bigger, stronger, whatever, you need structure and tracking. It's not impossible, but is very difficult to keep a reliable training log if you don't know what exercises you plan to do at any given workout. There is no way to be consistent.
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                • #9
                  I structure the first part of my workout and try to beat the logbook. At the end of the workout I do some Mountaindog principles and change it every workout. It seems to be going pretty good.


                  • #10
                    I do DC training only, (I don't do anything for cruises, besides lay around), so if I did anything extra, it would probably mean overtraining for me.
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by KidRok View Post
                      IMO, if you are working toward a goal, you want to get bigger, stronger, whatever, you need structure and tracking. It's not impossible, but is very difficult to keep a reliable training log if you don't know what exercises you plan to do at any given workout. There is no way to be consistent.
                      I am on board with KidRock with this. I am pretty anal about tracking everything, maybe a little OCD, but that is my nature, when it comes to work, education, training...taking a dump lol. I like to know what needs to be improved on and how I can better myself overall. I think keeping track of of such metrics makes it much easier to diagnose a problem and ensure you are meeting your objectives.

                      As for my training, the only time it is unstructured is on a cruise. Yes, I still note the exercises, weights and reps, but I experiement with a variety of exercises to see what I can use should I stall in the next blast.
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                      • #12
                        Definitely structured. I can't imagine really working towards a certain goal without some sort of structure. I like going into the gym and knowing exactly what I'm gonna do. I might switch up the order of exercises but I always know what I'm gonna do.
                        Disclaimer: I am not a DC trainee/expert/guru/coach, anything I say is purely my opinion based on experience and research I've read


                        • #13
                          Structured for the basics. Somethings at the end can be played with. For the most part if you train by "instincts" I believe you will fall short. The proof is in all sports were certain records and numbers are deemed impossible. Once someone else hits it others reach for that. Goals and standards push you to go further.
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                          • #14
                            I did fully structured plans for years and eventually stalled out pretty bad

                            now I have a general template I follow but add and subtract as I see fit, based on energy, injuries, etc. and I'm making good progress again

                            the one caveat though is that I ALWAYS make 1-2 basic, heavy movements the foundation of each workout and strive for basic progression over time, THEN fuck around with intensity techniques, volume, isolation, etc.
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                            • #15
                              Don't most people end up making use of both methodologies? I mean most of us do walk in with an idea or plan of what to do but some of us have down-days since we're only human. some might stick to the book while the rest may adapt accordingly (physiologically perhaps?). Going by feel and instincts 'might' reduce the likelihood of injuring yourself i think