Ten Pointers for Program Design

1.  Every time you bench press, perform a set of rows.  Dumbbells, barbells, cables, whatever.  Your shoulders will thank me for it.

2.  Every time you press weights over your head, perform a set of  pull ups (or pull downs, which make you a little bit of a coward).  Why you ask?  See #1.

3.  When it comes to core training (specifically the abdominals), perform a little less spinal flexion and a little more spinal stabilization.  Think a little less crunches and a little more exercises where the torso remains rigid and resists motion.  Notice I did not say perform all of one or the other.  Remember, there are no bad exercises, there are poor applications.  If you sit at a computer or a desk all day or if you have the posture of a caveman, perhaps movements that bring your spine into a position that its been in for 8-10 hours may not be the best idea. 

4.  Include single leg variations such as lunges in your training.  They are great for building single leg strength and are also great as a dynamic flexibility exercise to open up the quads and hip flexors on the trailing leg.

5.  If your knees are bothering you, work on your ankle and hip mobility.  It could help.

6.  In none training related news, just as a follow up to number 5, if you have general joint pain, eat fish oil.  Eat more than it says on the bottle.  A lot more. 

7.  I like to think of strength training and cardiovascular conditioning as separate entities.  The goal of strength training should be to get stronger…not tired.  The goal of cardiovascular conditioning should be to increase work capacity and overall endurance.  This will probably make you tired.  Thats ok. 

8.  In training, perform the most demanding exercises first.  Work on power before strength and strength before endurance. 

9.  Warming up is important.  Really important.  It has become much more important to me as I have gotten a little bit older.  The following template for warming up works well for me:

  • Joint Mobility (whatever is appropriate for that day)
  • General Movement (arc trainer, jumping rope, skipping, shuffling, calisthenics)
  • Day Specific Warm Up (bodyweight exercises and warm up sets)

I sometimes incoporate core circuits as part of the warm up.  Not always.  Just sometimes.

10.  Easy weeks of training (deload weeks) can be a good idea every four or five weeks for certain trainees.  These weeks are a good time to take it easy and spend extra time on recovery.  Think extra joint mobility work, some massage therapy, lots of sleep, etc.

There you have it folks.  Ten program design pointers, free of charge.  Have a great weekend

Work hard and work smart.

Dave Coffin

About dcoffin280

I am a Boston based strength and conditioning coach.

Posted on February 19, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Dave,

    Thanks for another great article.

    Can you give some examples of spinal stabilization movements for core training. I am familiar with ab roller type movements. Which other spinal stabilization movements do you use regularly?

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