Using Block Reviews
By Mike Tuchscherer, 12 September 2017

In my estimation, there is only one good reason to keep a training log – to help you make better training decisions.  That’s it.  Lots of people keep a log just to write down what they did, but never make use of the information.  What’s the point?

Our training log is a free application that ANYONE can use.  And we’re building new tools all the time to help you make better training choices.  One feature that I really love is called the Block Review.

Purpose of the Block Review

We all know that people respond differently to training.  It’s training law – the law of individual differences.  It’s trivially obvious to observe.  So once you’re past the beginning stages the question becomes how can you optimize your training so that it’s producing the best progress it can – FOR YOU.  Unfortunately no one can tell you what it is.  There is no test you can take.  There’s no system that will find it for you.  You need to find it for yourself.  And figuring this out is where the block review proves highly valuable.

How to use it

After you’ve logged your workouts for an entire block, you’ll want to go to the reporting section.  Click the button to queue up a new report.  Obviously, you’ll select Block Review and follow the on-screen instructions.  Hint:  I always use a naming convention for my block reviews.  Date, then my ending e1RMs with the gain/loss in parenthesis, then a one or two word description of the strategy that was used.

BR 1

Once the report is complete, you’ll be able to open it to view a summary of that training block.  The report will be broken into three sections.

The top section is all about your performance.  It will graph each of your three competition lifts (which you can designate anytime on the Competition Progress page in the dashboard submenu).  This provides an easy way to visualize your strength progress throughout the training block.  The stats section below the graph will show you the gain/loss in a variety of different areas.  At a glance, you can evaluate how you did during this training cycle.

The next section is your Lift Density chart.  This chart lets you understand the general character of the training that was done.

BR 2

You can easily see which exercises were performed in the block and the rep range that was trained.  The warmer the color, the more sets were done in that rep range.  Clicking each dot will open the details page so you can see how many sets, the loading and the RPE.

The final section is the Stress Index.  Stress Index is a calculation of how stressful the workout is.  You can read more about it (or any of the sections) by clicking the question mark in the blue header of each section.

BR 3

This gives you an idea of the workload performed for each movement pattern in each given training week.  You can also see the sequence of heavy, medium, and light training as needed.

Understanding the Block Review

Once you have collected a number of block reviews, you can begin to understand what kinds of training your lifts respond best to.  To start, open the block reviews for a couple of your best training blocks.  Take note of any commonalities.  Are there certain exercises that are consistently present?  Intensities?  Rep ranges?  RPE’s?  Stress levels?

Understanding what you respond best to provides valuable inputs for which direction to take your future experimentation.  And then when you come upon a major competition, you can play your greatest hits, peak well and on time, and hopefully come away with a personal best.

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About the Author
Mike Tuchscherer is the owner and head coach at RTS. He has been powerlifting since 2001 and since has traveled all over the world for competitions. In 2009, he was the first man from USA powerlifting to win a gold medal at the World Games – the highest possible achievement in powerlifting. He has coached over a dozen competitors at the world championships, a score of national champions, and multiple world record holders.