On this page, I will show you how to navigate your weekly exercise program which is delivered to you via the Train Heroic smartphone app. In order to get the most out of each workout we need to go over some of the structure and terminology associated with the program. Some of these concepts might be confusing at first but my goal is to over-deliver in value and give you every exercise tool to smash your goals. Utilizing these concepts helps us get the most out of the gym experience. We will do everything we can in order to create simplicity but understand there might be a learning curve with some of these tactics at first. However, once you lean into these techniques it will bring your fitness to a whole new level. Before we jump into the nuts and bolts, let's define common terminology that will be used!
In order to provide a smooth exercise experience I want to preface with some of the common terminology that we will be using inside of the Spark program. Below are a listed of common terms and abbreviations that you will need to be familiar with in order to execute the exercise prescription.
R/L = right/left; means reps are for each side of the body
LhWP = Last heaviest weight performed
RIR = Reps in reserve (how many reps left in the tank)
Emom = every minute on the minute (EMOM 10:00 means every minute on the minute for 10 minutes)
AMRAP = As many reps/rounds as possible (AMRAP 10:00 means As many rounds/reps as possible in 10 minutes)
E2mom = every 2 minutes on the minute (E2mom 10:00 means every 2 minutes for 10 minutes)
Rx = Prescribed weight (written as '35/25'. The first number is the weight prescribed for males and the second number is the weight prescribed for females)
After terminology the second most important step is understanding how to scale and customize the workouts to your individual factors. I will provide scaling options inside of your app but use the scaling option page (below) to understand the scaling process and how to maximize your results!
Each Spark program will have its own specific warm up protocol to follow depending on that day's intent. However, if you want to create your own warm ups and/or learn more about the warm up process click the button below.
The next step is understanding percentage based loading inside your app. During some exercises you will see a % number. This means you will be performing the exercise at a percentage of your estimated 1 rep max. The majority of time you will only see this method with the first section as this deals more with multi-joint compound movements and is more applicable. For example '65%'. This means that you would take 65% of your estimated 1 rep max. This will be programmed inside of your app along with the suggested number to use (based on your estimated 1 rep max data). Remember these are just guidelines and I want you to have the freedom and flexibility to adjust slightly depending on individual factors. Do not think that you have to stick to the prescribed amount of weight as this could be a recipe for injury especially if you currently have sleep, stress, hormonal, work, nutrition, or other individual alterations. Depending on how you are feeling adjust the weight 5-10% as this will help you stay consistent and give you the capacity to execute movement quality on reps and tempo. When you first use the app you won't have any estimated 1 rep maxes available in the software because you haven't recorded any stats yet (DO NOT enter in your own stats or the formula will be effected). Don't worry about hitting perfect percentages right off the bat. When you complete the exercise for the first time your data will be uploaded and an estimated 1 rep max will become available for future usage. The more you workout, the more data will be recorded and the more accurate your individual exercises stats will become (and thus the more effective the percentage based loading will be). Have patience while letting consistency and time dial in percentage based loading.
The next step is understanding RIR as we will utilize an RIR system for the majority of programming. This is easily the most challenging part of online programming and can be frustrating for some. However, understanding RIR properly can be an extremely useful tool. RIR stands for reps in reserve. Essentially this is a way to select weight (load) without me being able to physically watch you. The RIR scale is found below.
Remember movement quality is always the number one priority. If you can’t complete the amount of reps with smooth form (without jerking) then you need to lower the weight. As you creep down the RIR scale you might have to “grind” out certain reps. However, 'grinding' refers to the speed at which you complete reps. It should always look smooth but might move slower when the weight gets heavier. For example: RIR 4. This means you will perform the sets prescribed while leaving about 4 reps left in the tank. For the majority of people, RIR is a tough skill to learn. If you’ve never used RIR training before then it will be difficult to gauge. My biggest piece of advice is to start on the lighter side. We adapt/transform not by rapid increases in weight but by progression over time. No matter what RIR you choose you will plateau at some point in time (thus the importance of exercise periodization, I take care of this for you). If you overshoot your RIR and purposely select a heavy weight for the sake of ego, the time at which you can progressively overload decreases dramatically (along with movement quality). If you stay on the lighter side then you will be able to progress longer and thus see more adaptation. It’s a fine line and something that you will have to experiment with but when in doubt, always start on the lighter side. Remember weight is important, but movement quality is more important. If you want to see results then shift the focus to how well you can move the weight instead of how much weight you are move.
Tempo refers to the speed of which you perform the movement. Generally speaking there are. 4 parts to each movement. We have the eccentric contraction (the easiest part of the lift), an isometric contraction (the pause after the eccentric contraction), the concentric contraction (the hardest part of the lift), and finally another isometric contraction (the pause after the concentric contraction). In order to make tempo as easy as possible I will tell you how fast to move at certain points of the exercise. If there is no tempo prescribed, assume smooth and controlled movement at normal speed. For example:
Lat Pull Down 3 sets of 8 reps Tempo: Control for 3 seconds on the way up and pause for 1 second on the bottom of each rep
This means that you would use the lat pull down and pull down to your chest at normal speed (concentric contraction), pause for 1 second at the chest (isometric contraction), and control for 3 seconds on the way up (eccentric contraction) before going right back into another rep.
* We will keep this straight forward and simple as possible.
You will notice that steady state cardiovascular activity is not programmed. Instead, these workouts utilize supersets, circuits, and other metabolic combinations that stimulate our cardiovascular systems. Low intensity steady state (LISS) cardio can be performed as much or as little as desired throughout the week in addition to your exercise programming. It is important to know the difference between low intensity cardio and high intensity cardio. You are in a low intensity cardiovascular state when you have the capacity to hold a conversation out loud. When you can no longer hold a conversation with someone during the activity you are beginning to slip into moderate/high intensity cardiovascular levels. You want to be careful how much high intensity cardio you perform throughout the week especially if you have a high demand lifestyle. Some individuals might have coping skills built around high intensity exercise (classes, long distance running, long distance biking etc.) and that's okay. From that standpoint, the coping skill is more important than the energy system. However, too much high intensity cardiovascular paired with resistance training (on top of a high demand lifestyle) can fatigue your nervous system and decrease functionality in all areas of life. For these reasons, I would recommend that you stick with low intensity cardio and build it around your passions (walking, golf, tennis, swimming, biking etc).
If your goal is fat loss and you want a more calculated approach when it comes to additional cardiovascular exercise then keep reading. Tracking the amount of LISS you perform can be super helpful when it comes to breaking through plateaus and losing that last bit of stubborn belly fat. Spend the first months creating a baseline around walking 7,000 steps per day. Put it on autopilot. When you hit a plateau then you have the room to slightly increase the amount of LISS cardio to help drive caloric burn (as we don't want to create too steep of a caloric deficit right off the bat). I would suggest increasing steps to 9,000-10,000 per day. Consistent steps paired with resistance training and a principle based nutrition game plan will create breathe taking results.
Generally speaking the breathing cadence and rhythm should always be the same during each exercise. It is recommended that you breathe in during the easiest part of the lift (eccentric) and breathe out during the hardest part of the life (concentric). Rinse and repeat. Finding a rhythm with your breathing patterns will pay huge dividends throughout your workouts.
other exercise variables
Beyond the prescription, there are certain variables that I want you to be prepared for. I want to shed some insight into these areas for a couple reasons. First and most importantly, I want you to have EVERYTHING you need to build wellness results. Accounting for these areas will help you build consistency, momentum, and ultimately results. Secondly, I genuinely want you to have an effective experience during Spark training. Online programming has a lot of benefits but also contains some areas that need to be addressed. Through these conversations you will be better equipped to navigate throughout your exercise journey.
weight changes and progressive overload
The best way to learn how to choose weight properly is by tracking. When you track your weights you become more self-aware of your strength levels in different areas. You should be able to complete each exercise prescription (sets, reps, tempo) without sacrificing movement quality. If you are unable to complete the set with perfect form (yes PERFECT) then you need to lower the weight. Start light during the first couple weeks or months of the program. The biggest hindrance in your results is ego. Get rid of it when it comes to exercise. The person with the greatest movement quality will always see better results. Record some of your weights (the app will do this for you) and start paying attention to your own individual capabilities. Remember, it doesn’t matter what weight you start out on. It matters how consistently you progress. We will provide a variety of tempos and rep ranges which will help ensure adequate muscle stimuli.
The weight will be different depending on what the prescription is. If you are doing 8 reps at a 3 second eccentric you will have to use a much lighter weight than 8 reps at normal tempo. I am a big believer in adjusting your weights dependent on bio-feedback (how you feel, sleep quality, stress level, water intake, salt intake, food intake, bloating etc). That is to say, the most important indicator in picking your weight is how you feel during that specific day. If I prescribed you a certain weight but you had bad biofeedback that specific day then it would be a recipe for injury. The most important thing with any wellness program is consistency. When we push progress over longevity it disrupts consistency and brings us further away from our goal. SparkThrive is designed to enhance your capacity, not disrupt it. If you have a busy day and a lot on your plate then it’s okay to go lighter on some of the exercises (take a 5% decrease). We place feeling good and looking good on the same pedestal. Both are extremely important in order to create consistency.
I will implement a deload week in your program on a regular basis in order to progress safer and more effectively during the next weeks of training. Deloads are designed to create active rest. Essentially, we will lower the weights, reps, and tempo in order to give our bodies an “active rest’ for that specific week. When deloads occur, you will notice that the exercise prescription has lower reps, volume, and tempo (usually a lot shorter). Deloads will be strategically programmed after high volume and/or intensity weeks. This can be mentally challenging for some people who are go-go-go all the time. However, the research is clear that deloads work and are extremely beneficial over the long-term (especially for fast paced/high demand lifestyles).
adjusting time, intensity, and volume
Spark is also unique in the fact that it creates an individual approach to an online membership program. I also want to give you some practical advice on how to individualize the program even more. If you are running low on time that week or day then you can adjust the structure to fit your lifestyle. Just perform at least one set of each of the sections and skip the finisher. This allows you to get some variation and volume in without compromising exercise programming. These workouts are systemically put together for a reason. Each week builds off of the previous week’s variables. Instead of skipping a whole section just do less of each section. In the same manner, we can use that logic to adjust the intensity and volume for your specific lifestyle. If you have an especially stressful week or a lot on your plate for that day bypass a set or two of each section. I want you to have the capability to fit wellness into your lifestyle and not your lifestyle into wellness.
Adjusting to individual biofeedback
Spark also utilizes bio-feedback to drive individual progress. Biofeedback is our body's way of communicating with us. Before each workout, we will measure biofeedback which will give us an idea of how to attack each workout. If you are consistently scoring less than 3.0 on the readiness score (the pre workout bio-feedback questions) then consider dropping 1-2 sets from the A and or B section and sticking to the modified option for the circuit finishers. It's really important to auto-regulate your wellness. Listen to your body. It's not about doing MORE. It's about identifying your current capacity and making the most out of it.
This topic is probably the most underrated factor in terms of creating results. Movement quality is defined as high stability and control when you perform a range of motion (a repetition). Creating high movement quality places the tension on the muscle (where it belongs) instead of creating excessive force in less favorable anatomical positions. This exponentially increases results and drastically decreases the risk of injury. One of my favorite analogies for creating high movement quality is the comparison to music. When we move, we want to emulate music that flows together such as jazz, classical, R&B, rap etc (depending on your vibe). This paints the right picture (at least in my head) of how to move throughout a range of motion. We don’t want jerky movements that clash. We want a smooth flow of mind and muscle connection. Intentionally focus on moving in a manner that creates tension on the muscle throughout the entire set. This is where ego ruins results. Ego places importance on weight lifted or the amount of repetitions and not on the quality of those repetitions. If you are looking for a "hack" or "unlock" this would be it. Have you ever wondered why some people go to the gym for hours on end and never see results whereas others can go to the gym for half the time and see phenomenal progress. In the exercise space, movement quality is the answer!