I recently introduced a new style of workouts into my VIGOR Strength Athlete training program. I call it Attention Deficit Training (ADT), for reasons that will be obvious once I explain it.
Attention Deficit Training takes well-proven strength training principles and modifies how those principles play out in a program.
It’s an ideal training format as part of an annual, periodized program. I designed ADT to:
- Maximize muscular work: Accomplished by performing many max-effort exercises, but with single sets, for each body part. When you perform multiple sets of the same movement, it becomes increasingly difficult to put forth a max effort on each subsequent set.
- Minimize mental fatigue: Accomplished by using single sets instead of multiple sets. This helps you avoid the mental fatigue that comes from knowing you still have two or three sets of the same exercise after already giving your first set all you had.
- Avoid boredom: Accomplish by providing various exercises for the same body part, rather than doing multiple sets of the same exercise. Even if you have to do a movement you hate, you only have to give it your all one time.
- Stimulate hypertrophy while minimizing aches and pains: Accomplished by completing high volumes of work for each body part while avoiding repetitive sets on movements that could cause pain to previously injured joints.
Keep reading to learn how it works. VIGOR Training members who currently (at the time of this post) follow VIGOR Strength Athlete are in the midst of a 12-week cycle of ADT.
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How Attention Deficit Training Works
Like all VIGOR Training programs I design, I designed Attention Deficit Training to build lean body mass. At any age, the benefits of building muscle are more far more than aesthetics.
The basic principles of muscle growth are pretty well established. To build or maintain muscle, you must consistently create mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage.
Your workout program should include:
- Max-effort sets leading to momentary muscle fatigue
- Shorter rest periods
- Multiple sets for each muscle group
- Training for each muscle group once every 4-7 days, which allows for enough recovery time, but not enough that you lose what you’ve gained during that recovery period
In addition, your lifestyle should also include:
- A higher-protein diet and adequate total calories
- Sufficient sleep
- Optimal hormone levels, especially hormones such as testosterone, thyroid, cortisol, and growth hormone
- Consumption of, or supplementation with, optimal levels of micronutrients
While I wanted to maintain a higher volume of total sets for each muscle group, I also wanted to avoid the monotony of multiple sets of the same exercise (though I’ll still use a traditional format during other parts of the year).
Instead of using a “multiple sets per exercise” program design, I implemented a “single sets, multiple exercises” format.
The program design makes for a refreshing approach to training while inducing some pretty serious delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and continuing to help you build muscle, move better, and feel better.
I set up ADT as a three-day split routine, performed over a four-day workout week.
- Session 1: Lower Body
- Session 2: Back & Chest
- Session 3: Shoulders & Arms
I scheduled the training days for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday sessions. However, you could adjust the days to work with your schedule.
Also, my primary client base is middle-aged men and women. Younger adults eating well and getting sufficient sleep might benefit from a five-day workout week, which would allow them to cycle through the sessions with a little less recovery time between workouts.
With the “three sessions completed over four days” rotation, you complete each session four times in three weeks, at which time I recommend changing the exercises for another three-week block.
As I always do with VIGOR Training programming, each session starts with 5-10 minutes of prep work, and then we jump in.
The Importance of Progressive Overload
I’ve always stressed the importance of tracking your training sessions.
VIGOR Training members do that in their app to quickly see what they did the previous week and ensure they exceed it “this” week. If you don’t increase the reps or weight from one session to the next, you won’t create progressive overload, which is necessary for building or maintaining muscle mass.
You can’t follow a training program like this and base your effort on how you feel. If you do that, you’ll end up with subpar results, which happens with most gym members.
Many strength training programs work well until they don’t. While I believe ADT will deliver excellent results, it won’t do so forever. You need to modify the style of your training every two to four months.
ADT Exercises & Example Workouts
In a more traditional resistance training program, you’d complete two to six sets per exercise, which means you’d only use two or three movements in a workout. Any more than that, and your training session would probably take more than an hour.
In addition, it’s unlikely you’d give it all you’ve got, each set when performing multiple sets of the same exercise. Some sets wouldn’t be at an intensity high enough to stimulate muscle growth.
The following are example workouts, not including prep work. The first exercise for a major muscle group should include one to three warm-up sets. Rest periods are 60-90 seconds, or the time it takes to set up the next exercise.
|Lower Body – Exercise||Rep Target|
|Barbell Hip Thrust||15|
|Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift||15|
|Machine Leg Extension||20|
|Lying Leg Curl||15|
|Barbell Power Step-Ups – Alternating Legs||12 (total)|
|Leg Press Calf Raise||50|
|Seated Calf Raise||50|
|Chest & Back – Exercise||Rep Target|
|Barbell Bent-Over Row||8|
|Strict Pull-Up (add weight as necessary)||10|
|45 Degree Pulldown||12|
|Incline Dumbbell Chest Press||12|
|Straight Arm Pulldown||15|
|Cable Low Row||20|
|Hammer Strength Chest Press||20|
|Shoulders & Arms – Exercise||Rep Target|
|Seated Dumbbell Press||8|
|Prone Incline Dumbbell Press||12|
|Dumbbell Front Raise (thumbs up)||12|
|Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise||12|
|Dumbbell Lateral Raise||20|
|Alternating Dumbbell Curl||12|
|Dumbbell Skull Crushers||12|
|Incline Dumbbell Curl||20|
|Overhead Rope Tricep Extension||20|
|Tricep Rope Pressdowns||20|
|Straight Bar Tricep Pressdown||30|
The numerous exercises allow you to train a muscle group from more angles or to leverage more of a variety of strength curves.
On a more basic level, the session holds your attention better because once you’re done with an intense set, you’re done with that exercise.
The above workouts create a starting point for your program design as they did for mine. While you can modify the exercises, you might also introduce other advanced training techniques such as eccentric training or rest-pause sets as well.
Getting Started with Attention Deficit Training
If you’re brand-new to strength training, I do not recommend this type of training. Instead, I have a 6-month intro program called Athlete In Training, which I’d recommend starting with. Your membership gives you access to all of my programs and teams, including AIT, when you join VIGOR Training.
A novice would be better off with fewer exercises and multiple sets, which allows you to learn the basic movements better, and ensure you fatigue each muscle group appropriately.
That said, if you have some experience with strength training and need something to keep you focused and avoid mental burnout, ADT could be just for you.
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