Kenny Rogers Was a Strength and Conditioning Luminary?

As time goes on in my quest for strength, health, and all other facets of the physical culture I’m ensconced in, I have come to realize that Kenny Rogers had it right all along! Say what?

In his famous song “The Gambler”, Kenny croons the verse:

“You gotta know when to hold em’ ,know when to fold em’

know when to walk away, know when to run

you never count your money while you’re sitting at the table, there will be time enough for counting when the dealing’s done”

It’s quite obvious that he’s talking about programming your training and nutrition for specific times in your life, right? Like I’ve said numerous times before in this blog and elsewhere, the single largest determinant for success in body recomposition, strength gain, and overall fitness development is COMPLIANCE, and by extension, motivation. What Senor Rogers alludes to in his musical interpretation is that you can’t always be pushing a particular aspect of your fitness and cranking it up to 11.

There must be periods of “regrouping” or “resetting” where the training and nutrition is less taxing or less demanding from both a physical and mental standpoint so that you (or I) can prepare for another intense push towards our goals. In short, you’ve got to know when to push it (hold em’), know when to cruise (fold em), take time off (walk away), in order to make continued progress over the long term.

So, how would I implement this strategy practically? I think humans’ intrinsic motivation for a particular goal burns strongly for about 3-4 weeks, on average, before feelings of staleness, boredom, and complacency start to creep in. With that in mind, I like to segment training into blocks that are 3-4 weeks long. An example for a lifter who wants to improve their strength while also making a serious push towards body fat loss might look like this:

Block 1- Hypertrophy/ General conditioning 4 weeks

-Reps: 25-30 reps done in 3-4 sets

-Load- moderate 70-80%

-Rest periods- 60-120s

-Conditioning Work- High frequency (4-5x a week ~30-40 minutes each time)

-Nutrition- Calories at maintenance level, carbs higher on training days (fat lower) and lower on off days (fat higher)

Block 2- Strength/ Conditioning Maintenance 4 weeks

-Reps- 15-20 reps done in 5-7 sets

-Load- high- 85-100%

-Rest periods- 3-5 minutes

-Conditioning Work- infrequent but high intensity (2x a week interval work ~20 minutes total)

-Nutrition- above maintenance caloric intake w/ moderate carb intake on off days and higher carbs on training days

Block 3- Strength Maintenance/ Lean Out Phase 4 weeks

-Reps 10-12 reps done in 4-6 sets

-Load- high- 85-95%

-Rest periods- 3-5 minutes

-Conditioning work- frequent – 4-5x a week interval work ~30-40 minutes total

-Nutrition- calories below maintenance, high protein, low carb (high fiber), moderate fat

Block 4Recovery/Rest-2 weeks

-Reps 20-30 reps done in 3-4 sets

-Load- light- 60-70%

-Rest Periods- 60s

-Conditioning work- infrequent long duration recovery efforts– 40-50 minute steady state cardio 2-3x a week

-Nutrition- same from block 3

Block 5- Repeat Block 1

In summary, it’s very difficult to burn the candle at both ends (caloric deficit and heavy weights) for long periods of time. In my opinion, a better option is to systematically program your nutrition to coincide with your training and break it up into blocks that have a specific goal. Obviously, the main goals of each block would be different for those with different overall goals, but the premise is the same. Like I said before, I think Kenny Rogers was probably a strength and conditioning luminary!









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