Let Me Count The Ways…
How many different ways are there to draw up a training program? How many different things influence a program? Some programs are written up based on powerlifting concepts, some are more Olympic lifting based, some are written based on other concepts, and some are combinations of all of the above. So which one is the right one? Well that’s easy to answer: the one that works best for the individual athlete.
Is there one perfect program? No. If there was, everyone would be using it. That’s one of the neat things when training athletes: based on what the athlete needs, we are all allowed to use our background and beliefs to design a program. Regardless of what influences you in your program design, you need to keep one key thing in mind when designing the program. What’s that? You must keep the program balanced. What has to be balanced? Everything does. What does everything include? Check the list below to find out:
- Push Exercises & Pull Exercises – This should be common sense but some programs are loaded too much in one direction. Remember, the object of training is to make the athletes better, not create imbalances.
- Power & Strength Exercises – While there are different types of programs, there does have to be some sort of balance. I don’t believe that a program can be based entirely on strength or on power. While I don’t necessarily think that it has to be a set amount of either type of work, both areas need to be addressed.
- Prehab/Corrective Exercises & Training Exercises – Is there a place for prehab and corrective exercises? YES!! Do I like to see an entire workout based on them? No. I believe in trying to find ways to incorporate prehab and corrective exercises into the training plan. At the same time, as long as it isn’t going to injure the person, I want them to be able to get in some “traditional” training during the same workout. There is a place for both and they should coexist in the plan.
- Flexibility & Strength/Power Exercises – We’ve all seen the stereotypical “muscle bound” guy walking down the beach. They’re strong as an ox. Unfortunately, they are so inflexible that they can’t even move. This is the last thing that we want in our athletes. It is just setting them up for an injury. Therefore, we need to make sure that there is an adequate amount of flexibility work included in our programs. By in our programs, I don’t mean as a “homework” assignment for the athlete. As we all know, in reality, they probably won’t do it (or will do it halfway). Therefore, it needs to be included in the daily plan.
- Speed/Agility/Conditioning Work – Do athletes need to work on speed? Yes. Agility? Yes. Conditioning? Yes. No matter what level they are, there needs to be some work in each of these areas. Of course, it doesn’t have to be an equal split between the three. The program should be based on the individual athletes needs. But no matter how much they need conditioning work, speed and agility can still be integrated in to the program. No matter how much they need to get faster and more agile, they cannot forget about conditioning.
Where does this leave us when we plan programs for out clients? It generally leaves us with a multitude of things that we can choose to work on. Unfortunately, none of us have the time needed to do all of those things. That is what creates the balancing act when planning a program. We have to find time and ways to incorporate strength, power, speed, agility, conditioning, and flexibility exercises into our programs. We also have to create a program that is based on individual needs, strengths, and weaknesses. That is the challenge that we are all faced with. Of course, putting together a good program and coaching the athlete through it makes all of the challenges worthwhile when you see a great end result. That is the reward for the challenge.