Written by Ollie Matthews
The beauty within the fitness industry now are the advances in programming, and exercise options to incorporate within them.
But with so many choices, how do you know what training routines to implement and which to avoid?
Let’s make ‘taking out the trash’ a little less daunting for you, so you can be sure to have confidence in your decisions.
When designing a program for your chosen goal/sport/competition, ask yourself this question for each exercise you are considering…
“Does performing this exercise improve my final performance more so than another given exercise?”
If the answer is a definitive “YES”, with no pause for consideration, then definitely include it within your program.
The confusion starts when you worry about whether it does or doesn’t benefit, what your friends think, and what the internet suggests.
The program design is, of course, sport dependent. For example, the powerlifter must incorporate the squat, bench and deadlift as these are the competitive lifts that will be required of them, so these exercises are primary in their programs. Equally, for a triathlete, the tempo run or a time trial should be included within their program without question.
In the cases above, it is the accessory work that needs to be considered when designing a program because whilst it will introduce new motor learning patterns which could promote primary exercises, equally there needs to be recovery as a finite also.
Before designing your own program, I would recommend taking a step back and reviewing your chosen sport/goal.
On review, you could design just a small chart to determine what exercises are highly specific for your sport/goal, what are moderately specific, what accessory work could be used and then exercises that could be useful but have minimal carry over.
From here, you can then make informative choices based on sports/goal relevance with a general consensus that the exercises nearer the top of the chart are more useful than those at the bottom.
When reviewing accessory work, especially if you are incorporating a hybrid program design – so combing strength and endurance as an example, you should only use exercises that impact a specific weakness.
For this to be a successful design, you now need to concentrate on yourself as an individual and not look at ‘typical’ program designs on the internet.
As an example, there will be little point in using good mornings as an accessory to a squat program if you’re squat is posteriorly dominant. You would be better to opt for a split squat or lunge to improve quadriceps strength. In reverse, if you’re more quad dominant in your squat, it would be an idea then to work on your posterior chain to improve balance.
An ideal program design will incorporate the primary movement for the sport or competition, 1-2 accessory exercises that absolutely compliment the primary movement, and then a further 1-2 additional movements that will allow for stability in exercises and assist the lifts.
No more needs to be added.
People often feel discouraged when a program design looks ‘boring on paper’, however these programs are often the ones that will have more success over those that are too complicated and ‘fancy on paper’.
If you follow the guidance on an ideal program design, you will be sure to optimize your training towards your given sport.
There is always room to ‘Take out the Trash’!