The Reactive Training Manual has been available for over a year now. In that time, Reactive Training Systems (RTS) as a business has grown and changed a lot. A positive aspect of that growth is that more and more people are discovering RTS and seeking knowledge on the system. It is in this regard that I realized that there are many people who would like to know the basics of what this training system is all about, but in the midst of website updates, much of this information isn’t readily available. So I’d like to reintroduce RTS for everyone, especially those who don’t know what it’s all about.

Learning to listen

If you read much about training, you’ll find that there is a ton of information available on how to train if you’re a beginner powerlifter. And the highly advanced lifters know how to train for their body type and individual differences. But what if you’re an intermediate powerlifter? You grasp the basics and you’re trying to learn how to be a better, stronger, and more intelligent powerlifter. If you listen to guys talk, you’ll probably hear it suggested that you “listen to your body” in some capacity or another. As an intermediate lifter, how do you do that? If you train in conjunction with a good coach, you might learn it, but how many of us have that luxury?

Answering this question is where the Reactive Training System (RTS) started, but as I continue my education, I’ve learned that it’s even more important than I originally thought. The law of individual differences states that each person will respond somewhat differently to a training stimulus (or any stimulus for that matter). So what works for one person may not work for another person. Also, there are physiological differences from person to person, and it’s important that these be accounted for as well.

But how does any of that help the intermediate lifter? RTS is a system of tools designed specifically to help you learn how to listen to your body and make the best training choices as a result. Although the manual itself contains the tools to make a complete program, the tools aren’t limited to that. RTS tools are designed to be like the scope on a rifle. You can put the “scope” of RTS on any program you choose and it will help. At the same time, if you pair RTS with crappy training, you will still get crappy results. RTS was originally designed to enhance training, although there are plenty of programming tools covered in the manual. Some of those tools are described below.

Rate of perceived exertion

Rate of perceived exertion (RPE) is a nice term for “how hard did it feel?” It is a numerical scale ranging from 1–10 with a key part of the reading being the lifter’s assessment of how many reps he had left in the tank. For example, if I did a set of three, and when I rack the weight, I can honestly say, “Yeah, I could’ve done one more rep,” that is a nine RPE.

Custom template design

Building your own template is an important process. Let’s be honest, none of us are professional lifters who can lift weights for eight hours a day, seven days a week. So time management is an issue. There are a huge number of stock size templates that are available, but for many of us, those just don’t work all the time or they fail to take something into account. The answer to this would be to build your own template that is custom designed to fit your lifestyle and time management restrictions.

Some things to keep in mind when building your own template are as follows: When will I have access to certain equipment? How much time will this workout take? How do these exercises fit together with each other? How does this workout fit with the workouts around it? Answering these questions will keep your template design on track, and as long as you cover all your required work, it should be effective because it fits best with your life. I’m not saying it’s optimal, but maybe it’s optimal for you at this moment of your life due to other circumstances.

If you would like to learn more on template design, this is touched on in the book and covered in much more detail in the seminar DVD.

Fatigue percents

These really help customize a program by allowing the volume to fluctuate depending on your current state of readiness. If you are resistant to fatigue, you would use more volume to stimulate your system. If you were susceptible to fatigue, you will fatigue easily and thus require less volume.

Fatigue percents allow your volume to automatically adjust to what you need that day. The way this is measured is via a drop in your ability to display strength due to fatigue. It requires you to arrive at an “initial” or a set that displays your strength potential that day. This could be a set of either a nine or 10 RPE. The subsequent fatigue is measured via percentage. So if you work up to three reps with 300 lbs at a nine RPE and then continue working until 285 lbs for three reps is a nine RPE, you have acquired five percent fatigue. Low stress workouts are ones that generally leave you with three percent or less fatigue. Medium stress usually results in fatigue of five percent. High stress is associated with fatigue of seven percent or higher.

These are just a few of the basic tools of the reactive training system. As always, there is much more to learn including stress management, cycle planning, execution methods, and so on. However, hopefully this article provides you with an outline of what RTS is all about and at least allows you to start training according to your body’s needs.

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