Weekly averages: the key to sustainable progress

Strength Training -

Weekly averages: the key to sustainable progress

One of the simplest lessons – but hardest to implement – is that your body works in weeks, not days.

You might be getting caught up in the daily parts of your training and diet when the proper focus is on the long-term. Today we’re going to briefly hit up why your training can benefit from weekly averages rather than getting tied up in the day to day.

We’re going to take you on a quick tour of the benefits of weekly perspectives for better training – or you can skip to the end for our quick checklist of how to implement it in your own training.

Training

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily ups and downs of training. Weekly averages are a great way of keeping the ego in check and ensuring consistent progress over time.

Is Daily Improvement a Myth?

As you get strong, daily improvement doesn’t exist at a physiological level. It’s a technique and focus change, but linear progression is for newbies.

As you progress, you’re going to need to get your head out of the daily progress mindset. The better you get, the longer the time between significant overload events. This is how you know you’re getting better over time.

Daily improvement is only going to be a thing for first-year beginners. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on improving technique every day, but it does mean that strength isn’t a day-to-day phenomenon.

For most of your time training, you’re going to want to focus on overloading weekly. Your PRs are likely going to be on the heavy day of the week each week for most of your training career. It’s a good mid-ground even when you’re really advanced and need to spend several weeks to improve significantly.

The week is the perfect amount of time for organising your training, your overload blocks, and it even adds perspective to your training…

How Weekly Focus Improves Results

As with your weight or your mood, these are going to fluctuate. Your out-of-training lifestyle is a huge deal but sometimes work is stressful, or you sleep like crap, or maybe you’re up all hours with the kids. You can’t predict every session in advance.

Bad sessions are going to happen and they’re pretty demotivating. As with diet, your training is about consistently weekly progression in volume, as well as technical practice. While your confidence might need to hit PR weights, the best way to build strength is usually just patient and consistent work.

Daily performance is going to fluctuate, so it’s best to take a look at the weekly total volume, the % of your overall max you’re using, and how the two progress over time. If you keep your eyes on the weekly averages, you can make consistent and sustainable progress far more easily.

This takes a huge amount of patience and discipline – holding yourself back isn’t always easy. However, it’s a hallmark of the best strength and power athletes that training is diligent and patient. This simple shift in perspective can ensure you’re getting the best long-term results.

Diet

The way you eat is key to your recovery and thus results. However, it’s also not like your body resets at midnight – so don’t worry so much about cramming in your macros at 11:45.

Weekly Averages, Daily Habits

We look at your daily habits because they’re important for your weekly averages. A week of dieting can achieve a lot, and that’s made up of days, but consistency is key. For example; a cheat day is fine if you’re smashing it the other 6 days of the week.

Taking this bigger-picture approach is important so you can keep the luxuries in your life. The best approach to a bad choice is to forget it and focus on the rest of your choices. If you’re too caught up in the single day, it’s easy to get into bad habits.

At a behavioural level, it’s easy to get on this slippery slope. Eating 500 calories over might seem like a problem now, but it’s not a huge deal in the context of the 10,000+ calories you’re going to eat in a week. Immediately getting back to good habits is the best choice and a weekly focus makes it easy.

Your brain might work in days, but your body doesn’t. Good habits come when you can focus on making good individual choices, but never forgetting the importance of the (slightly) bigger picture.

Tracking and Fluctuations

In the same way, changes in bodyweight are going to be more useful to check in on week by week. If you’ve ever weighed yourself on a daily basis, you should already know that fluctuations by several pounds are really common.

How can you get a good idea of how you’re gaining/losing weight if you’re looking at these daily changes? You can’t. The weekly averages of these numbers will tell you far more about your weight change.

Even tiny changes like stress and water intake can adjust your weight, so it’s important not to get too caught up in the daily changes. Again, weekly averages put everything in perspective.

Final Thoughts

There’s no way of getting around it: your daily and weekly perspectives need to work together. Remember that your weekly averages – whether it’s training volume or calorie intake – need to reflect your goals.

Days can change easily, but the perspective of one week at a time is a great way to organise yourself. You need to focus on one good rep at a time, or one good habit at a time, but as long as you’re trending upward on your weekly performances, you’re going to see great results.

Build good weekly performances with good daily choices and habits. Everything else will be Minutiae.

A Quick Guide to Weekly Monitoring/Planning

Diet

  1. Count your weekly calories, not just your daily ones. Many food-tracking apps can do this for you quite easily. Use this weekly average as your guide to how you’re doing.
  2. Measure your bodyweight under the same conditions when possible, and track the weekly average, not the daily change. Keep an eye on fluctuations just to see what causes you to gain/lose weight.
  3. Focus on small weekly targets for yourself that improve one aspect of your diet. E.g. improving breakfasts this week, or protein intake.

Training

  1. Keep track of your weekly volume above a certain weight (usually 60% and up only) – this is the main focus you’re progressing.
  2. Track weight and reps independently, so you can adjust accordingly and put your attention on the one that is most effective for you.
  3. Treat bad days as a single day in a week, rather than the end of the world. Use them to work on weaknesses, shift focus, and then recover and come back stronger.
  4. Set weekly targets for yourself that can be worked on daily – whether it’s technical or focusing on your accessories more diligently.
  5. Control your week: is it for Deloading and recovery, for pushing weight, for accumulating a ton of reps? What’s the point? A clear idea helps you build out a really good training plan!

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