My Training

Continuous Adaptation: Why you don’t need to change your program every 4 – 6 weeks

As you know, I’m a classic ‘bright shiny object’ person – I start many projects, being all enthusiasm and energy for a while, until the shine starts to wear off i.e its not challenging anymore and I find something else bright and shiny to jump into.


Every now and then though something sticks, and when it does, it sticks good and tight and I end up completing whatever project it is exceptionally well, often exceeding my own very high standards or expectations in the process.

Why am I reminding you of this?

Well, I got involved in a discussion with a well known industry person who was touting the theory that competitors only 4-6 weeks out from their competition should all be feeling miserable, cranky, deprived, hating their training, doing hours of cardio and by this point should be changing their training program from heavy weight low reps to light weight high reps.

After immediately thinking ‘why?’,¬†I suggested that this might be an overly generalized, narrow perspective, as I was loving my training, was not miserable, cranky or deprived, was definitely not doing hours of cardio and had not made any changes to my program in ages.

And there in lies the can of worms.

The repsonse (rather smug in tone) came back suggesting that I might want to look at the fact that my program had not changed as I should be changing it every 4 weeks.



Well, lets just look at my training in detail and you decide. This is the bit that was unfortunately not included in my training vid by the muscle project guys – I explained it all before the cameras were rolling ūüė¶

Firstly I did some googling to see if I could find out some research based scientific reason for changing training programs every 4 weeks. 6 and 8 weeks are also common mantras. But I came up with nothing. No studies proving that changing training program every 4 weeks is optimal. So where did this much mentioned ‘fact’ that you must change your program every 4-6 weeks to make progress come from? If anybody knows of any such study, please point me in that direction.

Now I know that the reason for changing programs regularly is to prevent your body adapting and becoming more efficient meaning less energy expended/growth/plateaus etc. But think about it, your body is a super adapting machine – how long does it take to switch into fat storage mode when you drastically cut calories?

2-3 days.

If you water load, think how quickly you get used to it and start feeling thirsty even when drinking 7+ litres?

2-3 days.

When you cut water the day before a show, how quickly does it take your body to realise that its not drowning and you stop peeing every 5 minutes?

less than 36 hours.

Given this do you think that it would take your body 4 whole weeks to adapt to a training program? May I suggest it could adapt within 2-3 days…?


Which brings me back to the whole bright shiny object discussion.

If my training program was exactly the same for 4 whole weeks, I would be bored out of my brains by now and would probably have quit.

But I haven’t. Bodybuilding has stuck and it has stuck good and tight.


Because although my program rarely changes, Aiden changes the elements within my program every single session which not only keeps me guessing (very important!), but it keeps my body guessing and challenged – it can never adapt to the infinite variety and stimulus provided and hence is constantly growing and growing symmetrically.

This is the principle of Continuous Adaptation.

It’s very smart.

Before I go any further, I think I should just clarify my definition of ‘program’ as I suspect it’s not the same as yours.

By Program I mean the overall goal/purpose of the training. The ‘Why’ and ‘What’.

Elements are the bits that make up the program and get me to my goal. ¬†The ‘How’.

My overall purpose and outcome of my program is to grow as much muscle as possible in as symmetrical way as possible. Pure hypertophy. And its working exceptionally well as last years comps clearly illustrated.

With respect to this aim, my program has not changed for 2 years, and nor is it likely to, until I achieve my ultimate goal of competing at Natural Olympia.

The elements within my program include split, sessions/week, exercises within a session, tempo, emphasis, intensity, volume.

So the bits that I call elements, equates to what most people would call their program.

Now, let me show you why I do not need to worry about changing my ‘program’ every 4 weeks.

Some of the elements within my program change less than others, for example my split (Legs, Back/Tri, Shoulder/Ab, Chest/Bi) has been the same for well over a year.

Sessions/week have also remained much the same (4 or 5) for well over a year. There were 5 weeks during comp prep when I went up to 6 sessions, but that was just to give my prep a quick turbo boost, before going back to normal.

With my split I can keep it to straight 4 days on 3 off, I can break it up 2 on, 1 off, 2 on, 2 off or 3 on 1 off, 1 on 2 off or if I want to ramp up the intensity roll straight into 4 more days with no rest.

If I go up to 5 days/week I tend to roll the split and do 5 days straight with one body part getting hit twice in 5 days, then 2 days off, then the next set of 5 days starts with a different body part which gets hit twice – so I roll the split within the roll.

for example:

week 1: Chest/Bi, Legs, Shoulders/Abs, Back/Tri, Chest/Bi

Week 2: Legs, Shoulders/Abs, Back/Tri, Chest/Bi, Legs

Week 3: Shoulders/Abs, Back/Tri, Chest/Bi, Legs, Shoulders/Abs


And then I could split the 5 sessions: ¬†3 on, 1 off, 2 on, 1 off or 4 on, 1 off, 1 on, 1 off or…

Even if I didn’t change any other elements (exercises, tempo, emphasis, intensity, volume) within a session, already you can see I have months of sessions before I get back to the same split/week combination.

Now lets really get down into the nitty gritty…the actual exercises, tempo, emphasis, intensity and volume within a session. To keep it simple I’m just going to illustrate how Aiden might stack 2 exercises from my shoulder workout:

The theory behind my shoulder workout (indeed all of my workouts) is to hit each of the delt heads at least twice in a session from different angles, I usually start with a shoulder press supersetted with a front raise.

so I often do DB Shoulder Press w BB front Raise

or DB Shoulder Press w Plate Front Raise

or DB Shoulder Press w DB Front Raise

or DB Shoulder Press w Single Arm Cable Front Raise

or DB Shoulder Press w Cable Bar Front Raise

We might dropset the last set of the DB Shoulder Press or dropset the last set of the Front raises or dropset both last sets or we might wave load/dropset the DB Shoulder press and not do a last set of front raises.

We might just do the DB Shoulder Press and go really heavy, low reps – to add strength as well as mass.

We might do 3 sets of 12 reps or 4 sets of 8 -10. We might do a 2 up 2 down tempo, or 1 up 4 down tempo, we might go explosive on the last set to make sure both fast twitch and slow twitch fibres are hit.

We might switch the DB Shoulder press to machine, cable, behind the neck BB shoulder press or smith machine shoulder press with all combinations of front raises…

And then if we giantset the press and front raise with rear delts or another medial delt exercise…

So just with these 2 exercises alone and the combinations that I’ve mentioned there is at least unique 85-90 training sessions even if every single other factor remained the same.

Multiply all of that by another 3 or 4 superset combos for rear/anterior and more medial delts over the course of the session…

The levels of combinations grow exponentially…

So just with my shoulder session alone, I have YEARS worth of completely unique training sessions before I get back to the exact same session that I started with.

And I haven’t even mentioned abs…

And then there’s the other 3 body part splits….

Another issue I see with the ‘4 weeks’ is, as ¬†I mentioned before, boredom, which reminds me of another conversation I had relatively recently about being stuck in a training rut…I don’t think that’s something I’ll have to worry about as that would only happen if the same thing is done over and over again. ¬†

As you can see, Continuous Adaptation provides endless variety, constant stimulation/challenge/growth for my body because we hit every muscle from every angle with a variety of tempo’s, intensities and volume. No equipment is overlooked, there are no favourite types of equipment and because of this my body also does not get used to moving and activating in the same way each time. The benefit of this is that muscle fibre recruitment is maximised, whilst dominance and imbalances are minimised, leading to improved symmetry.

Admittedly when I write it down it may does sound complex (and Aiden has it all logged away in his head!), but once you understand the purpose behind the the structure it becomes very easy. I don’t have to think about it anymore and can create any workout on the fly knowing that it will still achieve the aims of my program.

Which of course its perfect for someone with the attention span of a goldfish with A.D.D!

If 4 week programs work for you then do what works for you, but if you’re stuck in a rut, or don’t know how to change your program, or you just want to try something a little bit different – maybe you could borrow Aiden’s bright shiny object for a while


BAKER Personal Training & Fitness

I think therefore I am…I write therefore it will be

I’ve been tucked up in bed all day Friday, yesterday and today – resting.¬†Probably¬†not how I’d usually spend Easter, but nevertheless I’m probably doing the right thing. A bit of quality down time with me, myself and I.

It might sound like a selfish or strange thing to do, but most of us get so wrapped up in being hectic and busy that we don’t know how to have down time, let alone down time by ourselves…all on your own… it can be a scary thing for some people – nothing to do except be with yourself….when was the last time you did that? you know turned off the phone, turned off the computer, didn’t speak to a single person all day…have you ever done that? have you ever taken yourself off on a mini holiday by yourself? have your ever gone and sat in a cafe and had breakfast by yourself? have you ever been to the cinema by yourself?

2 years ago I took myself off on a mini break over Christmas to Hamilton Island – just me. I didn’t want to spend time with the rellies who I hardly know and who generally hate Christmas so they just about tolerate the day and spend the time being polite – its all so false that I just couldn’t be bothered with it, so I thought I’d spend time doing something I enjoyed. I had christmas day in a restaurant and just got chatting to random people at a bar – it was lovely and so relaxing.

The last time I went and had lunch by myself at World Restuarant on Southbank in November last year just after my comps, I was sat there minding my own business, reading a book and smiling to myself about how good life was (that was pre surgery and injuries!) and the waitress came over to inform me that my bill had been totally paid! how random! ¬†Apparently a man on another table thought I had a nice smile…but he’d gone and to this day I have no idea who it was or been able to thank him…its kind of cool…it made my day!

its an interesting concept…at least I think it is, but it would fill some people with horror because they don’t actually know who they are if they didn’t have all this other stuff defining them.

And thats what got me¬†thinking¬†– I do a lot of that when I have my down time. And writing. When I am stuck or in a space that I¬†don’t¬†want to be in, when my head is in a spin and I’m all over the place, emotionally – like I am now, I write. I write about who I¬†think¬†I am right now, I write about whats going on with me, I write about what I want to be doing or¬†experiencing, I write about whats bugging me, I write rubbish and gobbledegook, I write until I cry, I write my anger or fear and my insecurities.¬†I write until I’m exhausted…

and then I write some more.

I write where I am going and how I am going to get there.¬†I write what I have, what I don’t have and what I want to have. I write who I am and who I want to be.

How strange that someone who failed English language at school…creative writing in particular…now uses writing as their channel through which the answers are found.

and then I put the writing away and sleep. I almost never look at the writing again. It is done. It is written. It will be

During my writing it came to me why I’m struggling so much with rehab, not training and my body not being right. It came to me why I’m fighting against acceptance of the situation, why I’m¬†causing¬†myself so much anxiety and stress in my refusal to acknowledge any indication of weakness, the fact that I view injuries as a sign of weakness…why I’m making a mountain out of a molehill….well its not a molehill really, yet by the same token, in the grand scheme of things it is.

My writing revealed that I’ve allowed myself to become defined by my training.

Training for a goal is part of who I am.

Training lost me 1/3 of my bodyweight, training got me up Mt Kilimanjaro, training got me through depression and a host of other issues last year, training got me to a photoshoot, training got me on stage in good enough shape to become Miss Figure Victoria (Novice!).

And now I can’t train. Having disassociated myself from my former life and dived totally into the health and fitness world, almost everybody in my life is¬†involved¬†in the industry in some way, particularly when it comes to training and it upsets me to hear to other people talk about their training because its want I want to be doing above all else. I miss it, desperately.

To an extent, I am lost – if I can’t train, then who am I? I was formerly a fit chick who could climb mountains. I was formerly a bodybuilder who came within 1 point of taking out an overall title the first time she stepped on stage. Now what am I ? A chick who writes about the ‘good old days when she could train’? To me, its gut wrenching.

But as with anything, identification of the problem allows the identification of the solution. A wise friend of mine, a several times Hawiian Iron man, advised me to become a student of the industry. ¬† I may not be able to physically train, but I can ‘mentally’ train and learn this industry that has come to mean so much to me. I have my writing – blogging that I thoroughly enjoy and it appears to be opening doors to¬†other¬†opportunities. For example I wrote up the ANB Get The Edge Workshop and have been very fortunate to¬†receive¬†some kind feedback and comments, I love taking¬†photographs¬†and have now had one published in Australian Iron Man magazine, which I’m¬†thrilled¬†at. On the back of that I have been offered the opportunity to be the backstage photographer at the ANB Natural Mania in May – thats huge!

I am inspired to start another blog totally unrelated to fitness that will be centred around my photography and Melbourne (2 things I love that came out of a different writing session!)

I have just successfully completed a course – Anthropometry Level 1 – this involves learning how to measure a persons body fat % and body composition which I will need to be able to do when I set up my Competition Preparation business. I have research to do for this business, I need to get my IAPC certification, I have started studying sports nutrition and performance to formalise the knowledge that I already have. I will learn.

I am attending Filex and will write that up and submit it to magazines and maybe – I want a tag around my neck at FitX next year that says ‘Media’ on it

I have volunteered as backstage helper for the upcoming INBA shows.

All of this is leading towards an ultimate solution that does not depend upon my training. I am redefining who I am.

And when I can train again…I will welcome it back like the long lost¬†friend¬†that it is…I will enjoy it and appreciate it for what it is and where it potentially could take me, but I will not allow it to define me.

and then I will be able to sit at World restaurant on Southbank, with a secret smile on my face, knowing how good life is…and just maybe….


It is written, therefore it will be.

Wow. That was heavy. So now for something completely different


After the last 4 weeks of hypertrophy (got the terms down pat now!) today we switched my training to strength mode.

So what does that mean?

it means HEAVY!!

I really had to put some effort into it! ūüôā

not that I dont usually, I mean apart from back, I always get some level of soreness the next day or even a few days afterwards doing the 4 sets, 10-12 reps to failure type thing.

not today…

any more than 4 reps in a set then more weight got stacked on for the next set…just to make sure that it WAS really heavy..

for example I think I have been doing single leg stationary lunges with a 35kg barbell across my shoulders..probably a bit too easily I admit, but today Aiden loaded it up to 60 and then up to 65kg and after 4 reps I failed legs just sort of stopped and instead of being able to push back up I just sunk down slowly until one knee was resting on the floor…and there was no way that single leg was getting me back up. no way. not happening. and even when Aiden took the barbell off me I think I just sat there…

complete muscle failure.

we doubled the deadlift – I could hardly hold the bar and am really feeling it in my lower back now

and the leg press…


see, I’ve said it before… PT’s ARE evil – they come across all friendly and helpful and concerned…but I’m sure its the pain they see their clients go through that is what really gets them going…


only kidding! I mean where would I be without my number 1 celebrity trainer?

probably still a skinny chick training for a mountain climb instead of ‘Miss Figure Victoria Novice (Short) aiming to be Miss Hulkmania 2013 (Short!)’

So now I’m curious to see what will happen, for the last few weeks I haven’t been progressing training wise… I think I’ve bulked up – there are definitely a few clothes that are not a baggy on me anymore…! Hopefully¬†thats just rebound from comp diet – I have put on 5kg but not all of it is fat (I hope!) and with added carbs I’m popping out of my skin on rest days wanting to train, but I haven’t progressed with the weights.

There could be a number of factors at play here – stress over my work situation, stress over my shoulder situation and the uncertainty of it all has probably led to a loss of focus. I know I’ve been battling with myself on a daily basis as to whether its worth continuing – I’ve definitely had more than a few ‘whats the point’ moments when giving it all away seems to be the most sensible thing to do. It doesn’t help that I know whatever minute gains I may have made in the last few weeks will all be lost once I go under the knife, I was behind the 8 ball when I started competing and after surgery I’ll be even further behind

It doesn’t help to have that knowledge reinforced…

thats when the part of me that wants to quit gets the better of me and I couldn’t fight my way out of a wet paper bag let alone leg press 160kg.

but then there’s the part of me that will not quit, the mongrel, the terrier….have you ever seen a terrier when they latch on to something? they will not let go…

just today Aiden reminded me of something that I’d forgotten…I was the underdog when I started competing…and I’ll be even more of an underdog when I come back after surgery…


like a raw bone to the mad dog…

perspective. Focus. Its a curious thing.

Let the shirt tearing begin…