The team at GMB rung in the changes for week five of Integral Strength. The week represented the beginning of phase 3, which stresses an increase volume. Interested in my accounts of the previous week’s? They can be found here, here, here and also here.
How was the week structured?
To kick things off, session one called for re-assessment. This allowed comparisons to be drawn to the start of the program.
GMB added two ‘Integrated Conditioning’ sessions. In essence, they were short circuit-style sessions aimed to add volume. Ryan stresses the need to back off the skill level of the movements for these circuits. I.e. regress to the movement below what you would normally do, so form doesn’t fall apart.
The final notable change was an added round to the existing strength-endurance and strength-power days, further increasing overall volume.
What did this week teach me?
If quality if King, then volume is Queen
GMB stresses quality with movement, and rightly so. They also recognise that volume is fundamental to progress. Volume, or workload, is the number one driver of progressive overload. It’s what forces the body to adapt.
Without adequate volume, the body simply wont deem a given stimulus adequate to promote meaningful change. Though, if volume is appropriate, the body is forced to make changes, physiological and neurological, to make itself more resolute should it be confronted with a similar ‘threat’ in the future.
Volume must ramp up over time. This is part of the reason why experienced lifters spend longer in the gym, and newbies can benefit from short bursts of training.
Reassessment helps to quantify progress and influences motivation
If a goal exists, how do you know if you’re close to reaching it?
By implementing a reassessment protocol, it helps one to gauge where they are relative to their previous self. Furthermore, it demonstrates how close (or far) they are to reaching a specific landmark.
Seeing progress is a gratifying experience. It shows that targeted effort leads to hard earned rewards. It helps to drive motivation.
A lack of progress, which can also result from the reassessment, can have the opposite effect. This comes down to how one responds to feedback, as brought to attention during my write-up on Self-theories.
Not developing at the rate which you would have hoped can be humbling, though is a great learning experience. It allows one to tinker with what they’ve been doing, make adjustments, optimising their next block of training.
I am in full agreement that volume needed to be bumped up during this phase though believe a better method could have been adopted. The additional set to the existing program is a solid way to achieve a volume increase, but the ‘Integrated Conditioning’ sessions were sub-optimal in my opinion.
The added workouts called for a meagre ten seconds per exercise – I don’t believe anything substantial can be achieved in this time frame, particularly given the emphasis on quality which is the basis of GMB programming. I felt under the pump to complete reps to create enough of a stimulus, while also trying to pay attention to detail. The two goals are incongruous to one another.
An alternative could have been adding an additional session in a similar mould as the strength-endurance and strength-power sessions, i.e longer, more thoughtful sets. In order to strengthen weaknesses, allow the participants to select movements they found most challenging based off their ease and quality ratings. The added frequency would accelerate progress in my opinion.
Next week will likely prove to be in a similar vein to week five, given it’s a part of the same phase.
What’s your experience with GMB? Have you tried any of their programs, and if so what did you make of them?