Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Perfect Program

The "Perfect Program" is something that has been sought after by strength coaches and athletes since the dawn of physical culture. People want to know the quickest and most efficient way to get bigger, faster, stronger and leaner. Everyone wants to believe that there's one perfect way to achieve these things, so what is it?

The big secret is that there is no perfect program. There's no secret to achieving all those things besides consistency and hard work. Damn near any program (well written or not) that you give to someone will result in some sort of progression when performed with the appropriate intensity and consistency. One of the industry quotes that coaches love to throw around is that "everything works...for about 6 weeks".

Here's where it gets interesting though; the most perfectly-written, over-analyzed, constructed and reconstructed program that follows all the parameters set forth by your favorite coach/idol is going to be dogshit if you don't apply it to the right athlete at the right time.

The best program you've ever written is still very capable of being crap if you don't use it when the time is right. If you take your amazing program and give it to an athlete who's not ready for it, in the wrong part of their annual plan, or it just doesn't fit their overall training then you're going to get poor results.

All of the best ingredients for apple pie are going to taste like dogshit if you put it into your beef stew. (analogy game = strong)

Take, for example, the program that I wrote for Cleveland Elite Development. It is, all in all, one of the simpler programs that I've ever written. It's a low-volume, low-intensity program that is intended to minimize training stress and have little (if any) recovery period where the athlete is experiencing muscle soreness or fatigue. Basically, I wanted to introduce strength training to a group of athletes who have an extremely high training load as it is and provide juuuust enough stress to induce the minimal amount of positive training adaptation. I also wanted to utilize specific exercises that would help reduce/minimize injuries. For this particular group of athletes, any positive adaptation is going to be a step in the right direction.

Would I have induced a much more significant training adaptation by giving them banded deadlift singles contrasted with hurdle hops, Anderson front squats and power snatches from knee height blocks with heavy-ass-sled-drags? Totally. Their strength increases would've gone through the roof! But at what cost?

Each of the girls would've seen a monster increase in the perceived exertion of their running program, would've missed their weekly mileage and would've spent more time flirting with soft tissue injuries caused by fatigue and soreness from their training. The goal of the program should always be to get the athlete a positive training adaptation while allowing them to get better technical/sport specific skills for their sport. These girls are runners and need to be out there running.

When writing your perfect programs please make sure that you are writing a program that is perfect for those athletes at that point in time. It's easy to become over-excited about all the awesome shit that you can apply to an athlete, but sometimes that's going to be counter-productive. Sometimes athletes are going to be primed to come in and dominate weights every day and there will be other times that they need to just get a training effect and go home. Make sure you know which is which.

Have a great day and go lift some heavy shit!

1 comment:

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