Aiden Baker

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 😦

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

FitX II – Nicole Wilkins…the inside scoop!

Can I just start by saying what a privilege it was to meet the IFBB Figure Pro’s yesterday at FitX – I met Erin Stern, Nicole Wilkins, Alicia Harris and Larissa Reis and had photos taken with all of them – of course!

Sarah Taylor Alicia HarrisSarah Taylor Erin SternSarah Taylor Larissa ReisSarah Taylor Nicole Wilkins

Every one of them without fail was humble, kind, a little shy almost in Alicia’s case, they’d all just got off stage, taken off their bikini’s and headed straight over to their sponsors stands to spend some time with the long queues of fans. You wouldn’t know that they’d been kept waiting more than 2 hours late before getting on stage, were probably hungry and thirsty and probably just wanted some down time to relax and focus on the finals later that night, they were all welcoming, engaging and patient – professional.

It looks like an easy job just standing around smiling and having your photo taken, and answering the same questions over and over again – week after week in different towns and cities or timezones but its not really – after 10 hours or so on a stand it gets very boring, tiring and dull and the endless travelling is also not as glamorous as it appears – I know, I’ve done it!  I also caught up with Lindy Olsen on the Oxygen stand, the more I see of Lindy, the more I feel that she epitomises everything a successful ambassador should be. She is an absolute professional, a seemingly tireless promoter for Oxygen Magazine, and the health industry in general, who always puts you first even when she probably really just wants to sit down for 5 minutes in a quiet place by herself. Awesome.

Hats off to all of them – they all deserve their hard earned success!

So this morning, I was excited to be going to a seminar with Nicole Wilkins and her trainer – after having learnt so much from Lindy and Greg at the ANB Workshop, I wanted to know more about what it takes to be a champion. To me, the relationship between trainer and athlete is the key to this success, you already know my opinion of my trainer and during our interview when he said that not only did he think I could take bodybuilding anywhere, but also that he was prepared to go there with me – I’ll admit that I was left speechless. I didn’t truly know that up until that point and to have someone have that level of belief in you is humbling, as well as a huge responsibility…and it motivates me even more.

ok so back to the seminar 🙂

IFBB Pro Nicole Wilkins

It turned out that there wasn’t a fixed format, very relaxed and informal, just a Q and A session – I wish I could remember all the questions but I can’t there were so many, we went waay over the hour allotted!

we went though Nicoles diet – eat clean at all times, schedule in a cheat so that when you have that piece of cake you can not only enjoy it but you don’t beat yourself up with guilt afterwards! Lots of veggies and protein of course. Tweak things here and there during comp prep because if you do something extreme, your body being the super adapting machine that it is will do something extreme to adapt – and that is when you mess up your hormones – and whilst we were on hormones, Kim advised getting a full blood plan done after every comp.

Re-introduce foods gradually after comp, have an off season eating plan – be aware of how sugar, sodium and dairy affect your body – particularly after comp diet – your body becomes super sensitive to foods after the total cleanness of comp diet so go gently on it.

Drink tons of water!

Kim advocates eating real food whenever possible – sounds sensible doesn’t it? he prefers real food over a shake in the post workout window, and it all comes down to preparation. Nicole also said preparation is the key – she only cooks twice a week if she can.

We went through Nicoles training – generally cardio twice a day during comp prep, mix up high intensity and endurance. Nicole trains her upper body according to bodybuilding style but she trains her legs in a more plyometric style – lots of sprints, steps, squat jumps because her legs ‘puff’ just by Kim looking at them. She said how she loves to work hard and doesn’t need to be yelled at because she just wants to work. Nicole said she often works with a training partner, but when she trains by herself, if she’s doing heavy weights she likes to use the machines – so she doesn’t drop a dumbbell on her head or anything stupid like that 🙂

Nicole trains about 4 days a week and tries to keep the sessions shorter less than an hour and she tends to do cardio in the morning, then answer emails from her online clients, then trains her one on one clients, then fits in a weight session before more online client support and maybe another cardio session at night. She’s one busy lady!

Kim was saying how genetically gifted Nicole is for USA Figure and he saw her potential immediately when she came to him to start training. Nicole searched out Kim because she realised she’d got as far as she could go on her own – she was winning at local level, but not at national level.

We went through comp prep, Kim says he does something different every time, every prep is unique because each time Nicoles body is different – they may start further out from a comp and bring her in slowly and before the Olympia Nicole stays at Kims house for the whole week before so he can monitor her every day and tweak things accordingly.

If she flies to a comp then she makes sure she drinks lots of water on the plane to minimise puffiness and makes sure she eats every 3 hours regardless of the timezone.

Nicole is the only person to not only hold IFBB Pro Fitness and IFBB Pro Figure cards at the same time, but she also won them on the same night.

Phew! it was a lot of information – I’m sure I’ve missed a lot out here, but it was a very informative, worthwhile session and however amazing Nicole might look up on stage, she is such a normal down to earth person, who loves doing what she’s doing.

and then she was happy to pose for photos at the end..


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FitX, FitX, FitX!

Personal Trainer Profile – Aiden Baker

Today I thought I’d turn the spotlight onto my trainer – Aiden Baker.

Aiden has been a PT for 10 years and has trained clients at all levels of ability from people getting started, to obese people, people who are working through serious rehab all the way up to elite level athletes and bodybuilders. I am the first female bodyubuilder he has trained

Why did you become a Personal Trainer?

I wanted to spread the knowledge that I had already gained from years of training, I wanted to help people (as cheesy as this sounds!) lose weight and achieve their fitness goals because I saw so many people going about it the wrong way

What is the best part of being a Personal Trainer

Helping people to achieve their goals and seeing people’s bodies change – especially people who have been training for years with no results and going about it the wrong way with regards to diet as well. They come and see you,  get radical changes in as little as 4-6 weeks – that’s definitely very rewarding

What does it take to be a successful Personal Trainer?

Hmm…Big question (laughing)  (are you a successful pt?) :-p  The best, I train the best…Sarah Taylor (tongue in cheek!)

Ok, Knowledge is very important, being a well rounded person, getting along well with different people is very important because you do have to deal with a lot of interesting personalities… being able to push people but at the same time being understanding to everyone’s different goals… also in the same thing as knowledge I think a good nutritional understanding is very important because without if you can’t help your client with their nutrition they will be less likely to achieve their goals. 80% of it…diet.

What is/are your speciality (ies)?

Hypertophy – muscle and strength gain, Plyometric training, definitely nutrition, weight loss, Kids…boxing, elite performance conditioning… 

How do you motivate your clients to achieve their goals?

Everyone’s very different, there’s not one motivation technique that works for one person or the other, some people respond well to the… shouting and yelling..let me rephrase that! Bootcamp style technique


but its more about building rapport. Become their friend and then you can find what pushes their buttons, some people respond better to a little chat, some respond best to that serious bootcamp style being ordered to do something

So how do you motivate Sarah?

Sarah is very in between,  she’s very mentally strong herself and has a very good understanding of herself, but still every now and then she needs a little pep talk because I think she gets a little bit…‘lost’ along the way sometimes (laughing).  

she takes a bit of everything sometimes I need to have a chat others times it’s the kick up the arse… 🙂

What is your life’s philosophy, what values or ideals do you live by?

(pulls face) That’s a pretty heavy one! Lets come back to that one

(take 2)

Do right by others, I like to have fun, I stick up for what I believe in, I also like to say just do it – lifes too short to worry about things – if you want something just go out and do it.

Whats  your favourite training and why?

I do really enjoy plyometric training because its something I’m naturally very good at – explosive stuff, fast twitch fibres – I was always good at that as a kid – I went to state level for Queensland for sprinting. Now, because its getting me such good results I’m enjoying hypertrophy training…and cardio..distance…I’m good at everything! (laughing!)

How do you structure your training?

I’m 100% ectomorph –  naturally very skinny, so I structure my training around hypertrophy based training.

 I do a big split chest/bi, back/tri, legs by themselves, shoulders by themselves, calves by themselves – all the weak points by themselves.

I don’t spend too much time on bi’s or tri’s, I just do primarily big compound movements and my arms respond well to that. I don’t really want them any bigger – they’re already bigger than my calves! 🙂

Ok, enough about you :-p

We’ve heard Sarah’s 1st impressions of you, what were your 1st impressions of Sarah?

My 1st impressions of Sarah were interesting, because I obviously had a preconceived idea of what she would be like. Sarah was referred to me by one of her friends and I’d heard quite a bit about her. But  in the first session, those ideas went completely out of the window – I thought she’d be very…er…young and immature from everything I’d heard…act quite immature…you can re-word this! :-p

Even in the first session she came across as the polar opposite – very mentally strong, a strong woman who had her life… seemed like she had her life in control …(I burst into laughter here!) – no, you really did! as funny as it sounds you really did!

Just a very strong, mentally very strong person who knew what she wanted and knew what she wanted from me…confident.

What do you like and/or dislike about training Sarah?

There honestly isn’t any real dislikes…maybe the fact at the start when we first started training, even though I knew what she was doing, she questioned me a lot – but I knew it was for the right reasons – she was very inquisitive. so I find that interesting…when people ask a lot of really detailed questions (dumb questions?) no, not dumb questions, there’s some people who just come and go through the motions and its easier because you don’t have to think about it as much…you keep me on my toes!

The like? she is willing to do anything I say, she trains her arse off,  she always pushes – if I say do 4 more reps, she always does or tries to do 4 more reps even if I have to pick her off the floor. She’s very motivated, and strong which is a big positive and probably why she’s achieved so much so quickly

Is there a particular type of training that you feels works best for Sarah?

She’s definitely a mesomorph/endomorph – she puts on muscle easily but also fat, so hypertrophy works well, heavy weights, 8-12 rep range.

Although when our goals were different at the start and we were doing more HIIT training her body responded well to that too and she lost a lot of weight, so I suppose it depends on what her goal is. If her goal is to be lean and muscular then definitely hypertrophy, 8-12 rep range, heavy weights supersets, drops sets – any way to build up lots of lean muscle will work.

How has Sarah changed over the course of the year?

Physically? she was soft and now shes hard! (laughing)

(hey!!! I was not soft, I’d just got back from Kilimanjaro!)

you’ve put on a lot of lean muscle…this is a hard one too, your body has changed so much in so may different ways as we’ve had such different goals

Where do you see this journey going?

Number 1 baby!  Number 1 in the world!

(miss Olympia?), yep Miss Olympia!  (hahaha.. genuinely how far do you think I could go with the bodybuilding?)

Seriously if Sarah can get her troublesome shoulders sorted and the rest of her body that is not working at the moment, there’s no stopping her. As we all know,  one of the biggest things in this industry is mental strength and Sarah’s got that in spades. She’s genetically got the potential to put on a lot of muscle, so I suppose she can take this wherever she wants…it depends where she wants to go – I’m prepared to go there with her, alter the training and push you as far..we can go anywhere as long as we can get your shoulders sorted and build up your upper body…

 big big potential ..big time…cos that’s the only thing that you were lacking last year…you had the pins.. you had everything, you had the shape in your upper body, the symmetry but you were lacking a bit of upper body size and that was down to the fact that we didn’t have enough time to build up much muscle in your upper body for one and the fact your shoulders were restricting the movements we could do


ok back to you

If you weren’t a Personal Trainer what would you be?

I would be a superhero  (hahaha -which one?) Batman – because he helps the innocent

List 3 of your best personality traits

Understanding…when I need to be! I like to think I’m funny – have a good sense of humour, well rounded…is well rounded a personality trait? (I guess so) ok extremely well rounded :-p

List 5 goals on your lifes to do list.

Another big one! Its good I never usually think about these things. I’ve done the 2nd biggest bungee in the world in Interlaken, Switzerland so I want to do the biggest naturally, which is in South Africa.


and taking a leaf out of Sarah’s book I’d like to climb some kind of mountain …maybe one that’s not too hard!  (what about the inca trail?), yeah Inca Trail would be amazing, but I would like to do something that’s a little bit more intense…Kilimanjaro…something that’s not too crazy though! :-p

Race motor bikes.

 I also want to do the Hawaiian iron man but that’s a bit unrealistic at the moment  (why?)  well, at this stage of my life I’m not training anything to do with that so I’d die  before I even did the swim leg!  but say maybe mid 30’s I might start training towards something like that.

Who motivates or inspires you?

I don’t know anyone…(?) seriously – I really don’t. I guess one person who motivates me is my brother – we’re very close and we’re always in stiff competition with each other, but as far as inspiring there isn’t anyone I aspire to be like.

What makes you laugh?

Funny animal videos on youtube (saddo!), I don’t know

What makes you angry?

Cruelty. Meanness,  cruelty to anything innocent whether it be a child or an animal – that Kony thing upsets me right now

What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had and what made it so?

Hmmm…I don’t know, I really don’t know (bungee jump maybe?) yeah…that’s not really rewarding, oh I suppose because it was one of my fears… I was afraid of heights. I don’t know really – maybe I’ve got really high standards?  I don’t really think about these sort of things – I just go and do it.

What would I find in your refrigerator right now?

Ice cream..chocolate… :-p

I’m a creature of habit, very boring, I stock up on lean meats during the week, so I eat a lot ocean trout for dinner, chicken for lunch, salads.. I don’t have anything in the house that tempts me.

How do I elaborate on this? its very boring!

I eat clean, a healthy diet minimal carbs, no rice or pasta – I like to practice what I preach, be the example my clients can aspire to

If you could trade places with any other person for a week who would that be?

Casey stoner – because its something I’d never ever get a chance to do – ride one of those GP bikes…that’s full on adrenalin and fun and the reason I would enjoy it, is that it gets me away from the gym too – everything else in my life soo revolves around the gym and this would feel like the ultimate freedom, going out there and having fun on a bike is something completely different

If you knew today was your last day on earth how would you spend it and why?

I’d probably go to Ducati and buy a Ducati 1198…no, actually I’d steal one…why not? And then I’d go ride it in the mountains and wait for the asteroid to hit

and to finish up, do you have a favourite quote?

You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore  (Christopher Columbus)

Aiden Baker – this is your life :-p

Thanks for your time and insights… :-p