Programming Components: 101

Programming Components


What is the goal of strength and conditioning and how does it happen?

General Adaptation Syndrome – Hans Selye July 4th, 1936 “A Syndrome Produced by Diverse Nocuous Agents.”

·         The body goes through a specific set of responses (short term) and adaptations (long term) after being exposed to an external stressor.

·         Repeated sub lethal exposures to a stressor lead to a tolerance of subsequent exposures to the same stressor.  This is why specificity is the concept that a training stress needs to be relevant to the performance being trained for to elicit an applicable adaptation.

·         The theory states that the body will go through 3 stages, the first two contributing to survival and the third representing the failure of the body to withstand or adapt to the stressor.

1.       Alarm or shock –  Stage 1 the alarm phase is the immediate response to the onset of stress, in which a multitude of events occur.

·         One of the major results of these latter responses is the general suppression of basic cellular processes in order to stabilize cellular structure and metabolism until the withdrawal of the stressor.  This is a survival process, and one that an also serve as a marker of an effective exercise stimulus.

2.       Adaptation or Resistance – Stage 2, the body response to the training load through the modification of gene activity, increased production of the relevant hormones and the accumulation of structural and metabolic proteins. The body is attempting to ensure survival by equipping itself to withstand a repeated exposure to the stress. 

·         Adaptation stage typically begins at about two days’ post stress and that if the same stress is reapplied periodically, complete adaptation could occur within four weeks or less.

3.       Exhaustion – Stage 3, if the stress on the body is too great, either in magnitude or duration, or frequency, the body will be unable to adequately adapt and exhaustion will occur.

·         This stage is also referred to as Overtraining.

4.       Supercompensation – the condition in which the tissues and functional capability of the physiology have been changed to accommodate the latest types and quantities of stressors.

5.       Overreaching – the cumulative effects of a series of training sessions, characterized by a short term decrease in performance, fatigue, depressed, pain, sleep disturbances, and other effects that require up to two weeks of recovery. Certain hormonal changes such as a short term reduction in testosterone and increase in cortisol occur at this level, in fact these are among the factors that produce the positive systemic effects of barbell training.

6.       Overtraining – the cumulative result of relentless high volume or high intensity training, or both, without adequate recovery, that results in the exhaustion of the body’s ability to compensate for the training stress and adapt to it. Effects are reduction in performance capacity that doesn’t improve with an amount of rest that would normally result in recovery.  Recovery can take weeks or even longer depending on the athlete and severity.

Knowing and Programming for Your Athletes  

1.       Novice Athletes – athlete for whom the stress applied during a single training session and the recovery from the single stress is sufficient to cause an adaptation by the next training session.

2.       Intermediate Athletes – the stress required for a disruption of homeostasis exceeds the capacity for recovery within that period of time.  To allow for both sufficient stress and sufficient recovery, then, the training load must be varied over the week.

3.       Advanced Athletes – athletes in the barbell sports work relatively close to their genetic potentials.  The work tolerance of the advanced athlete is quite high, given the ability of the athlete to recover from training is itself trainable. The training loads that the advanced athlete must handle in order to produce an adaptation are also quite high, wince the adaptation that brought the athlete to the advanced stage has already occurred.

4.       Elite – athlete is in a special subset of the advanced category.  Elite athletes are the genetically gifted few who also happen to be motivated to achieve success despite the enormous physical and social costs.


Programming Basics

1.       Reps - the number of repetitions performed in a set, before resting briefly and attempting another set.

·         This is a critical parameter, the importance of which is often not apparent to some coaches.

2.       Repetition Maximum of Base Strength Movements – Squats, Deadlifts, Presses

·         RM (Rep Max) or Max Effort or PR (Personal Record)

·         1RM – maximum weight that can be lifted one time

·         10RM – maximum weight that can be lifted ten times in a single set

·         Different Numbers of reps produce different types of Adaptations.

·         Strength – 1RM to 3RM (90% to 100% of 1RM)

·         Power – 3RM to 5RM (50% to 80% of 1RM)

·         Muscular Hypertrophy – 8RM to 12RM (65% to 80% of 1RM)

3.       Repetition Maximum of Weightlifting Movements – Snatch, Clean and Jerk

·         RM (Rep Max) or Max Effort or PR (Personal Record)

·         1RM – maximum weight that can be lifted one time

·         3RM – maximum weight that can be lifted 3 times in a single set

·         Different Numbers of reps produce different types of Adaptations.

·         Strength and Competition – 1RM (95% to 105% of 1RM)

·         Strength and Lift Work – 1RM to 2RM (85% to 95% of 1RM)

·         Strength, Power and Hypertrophy – 2RM to 4RM (70% to 85% of 1RM)

·         Technical, Speed and Hypertrophy – 3RM to 5RM (60% to % of 1RM)

4.       Sets – Groups of repetitions.

·         Warm up Sets – the lighter preparatory work that readies the trainee for heavier work, and working sets. Warm up sets prepare the tissue and motor pathway for the coming work.

·         Working Sets – are the heavy sets that produce the training effect of the training session, they create the stress that causes adaptation.

5.       Frequency – the number of training sessions per Week.

6.       Intensity – the number of kilos or pounds lifted per repetition, or the percentage of maximum lifted per repetition.

·         Intensity = Volume / Repetitions = Average Weight Used / 1RM x 100%

7.       Average Absolute Intensity – the average weight lifted per repetition express in kilos or pounds.

·         Average Absolute Intensity or Average Weight Used = Volume / Repetitions

8.       Average Relative Intensity -  the average weight lifted per repetition express as a percentage of the maximum.

·         Average Relative Intensity or % Intensity = Average Weight used / 1RM

9.       Volume – the number of repetitions performed with weights in the intensity range from 60% to 105% assigned or attempted for an exercise, a training session, microcycle, mesocyle, macrocycle.

  • Volume = Repetitions x Weight

10.   Load – the total amount of weight lifted per session, day, microcycle, mesocycle, macrocycle or year. 

·         Load = Weight Lifted in Each Set x Number of Repetitions = Add Sum

11.   K-Value – figure to determine the appropriate intensity of the training program.

·         Average Absolute Intensity / Total) x 100

Programming Cycles

1.       Basic Training Cycle

·         Cycle One –

o   Preparing the body for the work that lie ahead

o   Hypertrophy and Conditioning

·         Cycle Two –

o   Power the Muscles

o   Power, Strength, and Skill

·         Cycle Three –

o   Recruit the Nerves

o   Skill, Neural Adaptation, Competition Preparation

2.       Microcycle – a week’s training

3.       Mesocycle – a training month, this may be in durations from 3 weeks (microcycles) to 5 weeks depending upon the class of athlete.

4.       Macro Cycle – a long term training program composed of 2 to 4 mesocycles organized in a periodized manner to achieve an optimal result in the concluding competition.

5.       Deload – a period of 1 to 2 microcycles that follows the end of a mesocycle.  This period is for recovery where the volume and intensity is greatly reduced.  This is also a period that is great for technical work and muscular imbalance work.

6.       Preparation Phase – a period of 1 to 3 mesocycles characterized by larger training loads, medium to heavy average intensities and higher repetitions per set. Restoration is of extreme importance during this phase.

7.       Pre Competition Phase – a period of 1 to 2 mesocycles during which the load is reduced and the aver intensity is increased. The body is restored to a supercompensation state as the endocrines are restored and the nervous system is more highly stimulated.

8.       Transitional Phase – a period of 1 to 3 microcycles that follow a pre competition phase. They allow for restoration of the body before beginning on the next major macrocycle.

Programming Design

1.       Programming Goals – Set up programming very specific to the athlete’s goals and capabilities. Take athlete’s past injuries into consideration to ensure no further issues. 

·         Improve Performance

·         Reduce Injury (rate and intensity)

·         Refine Technique

·         Increase Work Capacity

2.       General Physical Preparedness – the practice of general movement skill which may not be specific to the sport but which enhances its performance nonetheless. Sprints, plyometrics, gymnastics, sled push and pulls, rope climbing, and intense recreational sports unrelated to the primary sport are examples of GPP.

3.       Periodization – the organization of a long term training in such a manner that the body is subjected to an overreaching phase (preparation phase) followed by a restoration phase (pre competition phase) that will result in supercompensation of the athlete.

4.       Movement Selection – select exercises that have functional application to the training objective.  The exercises should adequately prepare the neuromuscular system for range of motion, power requirements, strength requirements, and endurance requirements of the athlete’s sport.

5.       Movement Order – the order depends on desired stimulus and the athlete’s capabilities and goals.  General rule is the compound movements are first such as squats, deadlifts, presses.  Followed by accessory work and injury prevention.  For athletes who’s training goal is within the sport of weightlifting such as snatch, clean and jerk then they should perform them before squats, pulls, presses, etc.  The faster the movement, the more precise, it is more important to them first so fatigue does not interfere.  There are of course exceptions to these general rules depending upon goals of the training and the athlete’s goals and weaknesses.

6.       Parameters

·         Realistic Expectations

·         Attention to Technique

·         Ongoing analysis

·         Results

7.       Keys to Proper Programming

·         Adhering to the parameters can prevent the most frustration result Possible, that of good training followed by a poor performance

·         Another critical aspect of program design is the wiliness to be flexible

·         All Training is merely a template and nothing is etched in stone

·         Each and every training session is subject to adjustments

·         The quality of movement drives the training

·         Aspects of training

·         Putting the training into practice

·         Managing the training

·         Control the training

·         Constant assessment

Strength and Conditioning Coach’s Tasks

1.       Planning – shape and organize the training to ensure adequate progress.

2.       Programming – effective ordering of exercises and the training plan.

3.       Application – adjusting the training to meet the demands of individual athletes.

4.       Observe – authentic observation and adaptation of the training.

5.       Analyze – dealing with the factors that interrupt the progress of training.

6.       Asses – controlling variables that impede the connection between goals and results.

7.       Conclusions – objective summary and evaluation of the program and the results.

8.       New Training – edit, add, delete, modify, and adjust for the next training cycle.

Training Terminology

8.       Strength – is a measurement of the ability of a muscle to exert force against external resistance.

9.       Absolute Strength - The maximum force an athlete can exert with their whole body, or part of the body, irrespective of body size or muscle size.

10.   Relative Strength -  The maximum force exerted in relation to body weight or muscle size.

11.   Explosive Strength  -  refers to an individual's ability to exert a maximal amount of force in the shortest possible time interval. (Fast Velocity)

12.   Speed Strength- is the ability to exert maximal force during high speed movement, it is developed with low resistance as these movements must be very fast. (Intermediate Velocity)

13.   Strength Speed – is the ability to exert maximal force during a low speed movement, it is developed with high resistance. (Low Velocity)

14.   Concentric Strength – raising weight concentrically without an eccentric phase first builds a powerful start.  This develops starting strength where maximal force can be generated.

15.   Eccentric Strength – is the ability to lower a weight.

16.   Isometric Strength – or static strength is used when the exertion of a muscle increases but its length remains the same. (Zero Velocity)

17.   Reactive Strength – is the training ability used for jumping up an going from eccentric to concentric actions.

18.   Starting Strength – is measured by the maximal force an individual exerts at the beginning of a contraction.

19.   Over Speed Eccentrics Plus Optimal Eccentrics – implementing large amounts of band tension on the barbell increases the eccentric speed for added reversal strength.

20.   Max Effort Method – the goal is maximum intensity and or personal record. The most superior method for improving both intramuscular and intermuscular coordination.  The athlete has now adapted to the stress on the central nervous system and muscles. This method of training brings out the greatest strength gains.

21.   Dynamic Effort Method – the goal is maximum speed and explosiveness in the movement, used to improve and increase a fast rate of force development and explosive strength. When training for explosive strength that requires light weight at high velocity.

22.   Speed -  the amount of time it takes an objects, or one’s own body, to move a given distance is an important component of the vast majority of sports.

23.   Power – the production of power is the key to most sports. It is the amount of work performed per unit of time. The ability to exert force rapidly, or as strength applied quickly.

·         Power = Work / Time

·         Relative Power = Power / Bodyweight

24.   Work – is the force applied to an object and the consequent distance it is moved by that force.  Unit of work is the foot pound, the energy needed to move 1 pound.

·         Work = Force x Gravitational constant x Distance

25.   Endurance -  the ability of the muscle or muscle group to exert force against an external stress many times or for a certain duration.

26.   Competition -  the goal for the athlete during competition is to be at their peak of performance.

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