When a basketball team misses a lot of foul shots in a game, the coach will often have the players perform a tedious number of free throws during the next practice. In effect, this method uses boredom to achieve the desired result. Such is the inspiration for the Patient Lifter method.
With this training method, trainees start off with weights they can handle comfortably for 6 sets of 2 reps. They are not allowed to increase the weight until their strength increases to the level where they can perform 6 sets of 4 reps. That’s it!
The rationale for this type of training is that using the same weight over and over becomes so boring that the desire for change motivates trainees to get stronger so they can move on to a new workout. From a more scientific perspective, the Patient Lifter method works by the law of repeated efforts.
One definition of that law is that adaptation will occur if an activity is repeated enough, which suggests that if you continue to use the same load workout after workout, the nervous system will eventually be forced to accept that weight as normal. This process is not a visualization (such as saying to yourself, “Next workout I know I can hit 6 sets of 4 reps!); rather, it is a physiological adaptation supported by science.
Regarding the starting weight, it will be 80 to 87 percent of your 1-repetition maximum, depending upon your current neurological efficiency. Neurological efficiency refers to how effectively an individual recruits their higher-threshold muscle fibers.
Athletes who are neurologically inefficient, as in the case of beginners, will respond better to the 80 percent load because they cannot effectively recruit the higher-threshold muscle fibers to help them lift the weight. Neurological efficiency is one reason that the Advanced German Volume Training Program (designed for trainees who have at least five years of training experience) uses sets of 6 reps instead of the 10 reps prescribed in the German Volume Training program.
When using the Patient Lifter method, you need to take 4-5 minutes rest between sets to allow your nervous system to recover completely. However, if you pair exercises for agonist and antagonist muscles, you can cut that rest time just about in half. If you pair the biceps with the triceps, for example, you could rest 120 seconds after each exercise so that by the time you return to the biceps, you will have nearly 5 minutes rest (it adds up to more than 4 minutes because you have to include the time it takes to perform the triceps exercise).
Here is a sample arm workout using the Patient Lifter method:
A1. Close-Grip Barbell Scott Curl, 6 x 2-4, 4010, rest 120 seconds
A2. Close-Grip Bench Press, 6 x 2-4, 4010, rest 120 seconds
B1. Standing EZ Bar Curl, 6 x 2-4, 4010, rest 120 seconds
B2. Close-Grip Bench Press Rack Lock-Out, 6 x 2-4, 2210, rest 120 seconds
If you’re fouling out with poor gains in your lifting, it’s time to turn things around. Let boredom work for you by trying the Patient Lifter method.