The Best Program

Reg Park’s 5 x 5,

Jim Wendler’s 5,3,1,

Charles Poliquin’s 10 x 10,

Mike Mentzers’ High Intensity Training,

or Daniel Vadnal’s Body by Rings

Which of the above is the best training program? 

The truth is, there is no best training program. And as cliché as it may sound, the best training program for the next training phase is likely to be one that you will dislike but will suit you and your lifestyle.

When it comes to training, there are 3 components that we target: the neural, the metabolic and the systemic. Here are some examples to help put into context these components.

One example of a neural program would be Jim Wendler’s 5,3,1; where you are working at 80-90% intensity. A metabolic program would be one like Charles Poliquin’s 10 x 10; where the rest is short with a lot of metabolite accumulation. An example of a systemic program would be circuit training, where the rest is short and you are working multiple body parts at a go.


Most times, we tend to favour programs that we excel in. This usually means that a person could even cycle the same program for months or even years on end! 

And don’t be fooled into thinking that picking a different program means that you are changing things up as well. For example, swapping from the 5,3,1 program to Mike Mentzer’s HIT program actually makes no difference in the training stimulus as you will still be staying in the range of 85%-90% intensity. Just because the reps and sets are different doesn’t mean the stimulus is. 

Instead, you should use a stimulus that you have never done. Often, this turns out to be a program we probably detest. Ultimately, the goal is to allow the stimulus to deload such that it is trainable again. The longer you stay away from a training stimulus, the more trainable it is. 

2-4 weeks is usually a good amount of time to spend away before going back to it. An example would be, shifting to a local metabolic component for 2 weeks after 8 weeks of neural work. 


The bottom line is: It doesn’t matter how great a training program is if your lifestyle cannot support it. In fact, you would be better off without it.

We need to start recognising that stimulus includes both the internal training stress as well as other external stressors. Internal training stress would be what you introduce to the body through physical training. External training stress refers to the stressors outside of what you do in the gym. This could be inflicted from daily life, such as work, family, relationships,etc. 

In certain instances, a great training program with the right amount of internal stress may actually prove to be too much for someone who is dealing with a lot of external stress in their lives. These external factors ultimately prevent adequate recovery as the accumulated stressors from these stimulus supersedes their recovery process.

Therefore, as a rule of thumb, if your external stressors in life are too overwhelming, it is best to stick to a program that has the least amount of volume as well as damage in terms of inflammation. This would usually lean towards a neural program or a systemic stimulus. 

However, if you have little to no external stress, then any program would work.


There are a couple of ways to tell if you suit a particular training stimulus. You can start by asking yourself these questions below. 

  • Are you adding more repetitions or lifting more weight from each training session to the next? 
  • Do you feel stronger after a strength phase is done? 
  • Were you able to achieve more muscle gain after a hypertrophy training phase ? 
  • Did you manage to achieve fat loss after a fat loss program?

These questions can help you work out the suitability of the training stimulus. Ultimately, if you are not improving or even deteriorating, chances are that the current training stimulus is not for you. 

Still have questions if the current training program suits you or how to go about your plateau?

Feel free to hit us up here at Higher Performance on how we may be able to assist you in your goals!

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