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Posts tagged “Resistance training

A simple approach to programming and progression (template attached)

This text corresponds with the attached excel sheet. The purpose of this is to make programming a resistance training routine easy for trainers and for people looking to put a program together for themselves.

Whenever considering how to create and progress a program the main variables that need to be considered are exercise selection, training volume, and exercise intensity. There are of course more (bar speed, rest periods,…) but these are the main variables that are of concern.

On the first page these three variables have been covered. There are different rep and set loading protocols with examples of progressions for each. This increases the training volume.

For example, if you or a client were squatting 135 pounds for 3 sets of 12 a progression would be 3 sets of 15 with the same weight.

Listed also are movement categories. Exercise variety is important so if you do a traditional back squat for 4 weeks, on the 5th training week swap it out for a box squat. This example has been given on sheet two.

Sheet three is an example of an intermediate program where intensity is modified on the second training phase (+5-10 pounds) and then the reps increase on the third training phase. Hopefully this provides an easy to follow outline for people looking to put together training programs.

It is useful to block out training phases (3-6 weeks) and then pick a variable to change (exercise selection, intensity, or volume) with each training cycle.

programming made simple



Seven upper body finishing exercises


A ‘finisher’ is a nice way to conclude a training session. You can organize a finisher to accumulate a little bit more training volume which will help increase muscle size or you could use a finisher as a conditioning tool which will aid in fat loss. Finishers should be grueling, they’re mentally tough just as much as they are physically tough. Here are seven upper body finishers that you can incorporate into your training programs today.

TRX row complex

For the TRX row complex you need a chin up bar to set the TRX up on. You will do 15 rows, on the 15th row begin a 30 second static hold. Repeat this three times with one minute rest in between sets. Static hold time will decrease from 30 seconds on the first round to 20 seconds on the second round to 15 seconds on the last round.

  • Set 1: 15 rows, 30 second hold, 60 seconds rest
  • Set 2: 15 rows, 20 second hold, 60 seconds rest
  • Set 3: 15 rows, 15 second hold


TRX curl complex

Treat this complex is a similar way to the previous one. You will be following the same plan of 15 reps with 30, 20, and 15 second static holds. However, for this exercise you will be doing a curl rather than a row.

  • Set 1: 15 curls, 30 second hold, 60 seconds rest
  • Set 2: 15 curls, 20 second hold, 60 seconds rest
  • Set 3: 15 curls, 15 second hold


TRX bear hug complex

This is the last of the TRX exercises. For this exercise you will start in a row position then rapidly cross your hands like you’re grabbing someone to tackle them. Do 15 reps then proceed with the same static hold routine.

  • Set 1: 15 hugs, 30 second hold, 60 seconds rest
  • Set 2: 15 hugs, 20 second hold, 60 seconds rest
  • Set 3: 15 hugs, 15 second hold

bear hug

Spider man pushup with medicine ball toss

For this exercise you need two medicine balls separated by about twenty feet. Start with 10 rapid medicine ball tosses to the wall followed by spiderman walking pushups to the next medicine ball. Complete 10 more tosses. This is one round. Rest 30-60 seconds and repeat two more times.

Three point pushups

Three point pushups are a great upper body finisher that I borrowed from strength coach Nick Tumminello. Put your feet up on a bench and do pushups until failure. Next, go into a regular pushup position and do pushups to failure. Finally put your hands on a bench and do pushups until failure. This can be a stand alone finisher or you can do it for 2-3 sets.

3pt 3 3pt 2 3pt1


20’s are a great way to accumulate some extra volume. Pick a difficult exercise like the overhead press, squat, or bench press and couple it with an exercise that is less demanding but still works the same muscles. For example. Lateral raises, lunges, or pushups. In this example we will use a kettlebell overhead press. Pick a weight you can do around 12-15 times and rep it out (maximum number of possible reps). Subtract the number you get from 20 and do that number for the less challenging exercise, in this case lateral raises. An example of three sets would look like this

  • Set 1: 16 overhead presses 4 lateral raises, rest two minutes
  • Set 2: 12 overhead presses 8 lateral raises, rest two minutes
  • Set 3: 9 overhead presses, 11 lateral raises

overhead press lateral raise

Back complex

Strength coach James Smith introduced this to me this summer. You’ll need two pairs of weights, a heavy pair for rows and a lighter pair for reverse flys. For the first set do 30 rows and 15 reverse flys. You may not be able to do 30 or 15 repetitions in a row and that’s okay. You’re allowed to rest on intervals of 5 for 5 seconds. So if you get to rep 20 and are fatigued put the weight down and rest for 5 seconds. The first round is actually the easiest round. For the second round you do 40 rows and 20 reverse flys and for the third round do 50 rows and 25 reverse flys. Rest for 2-4 minutes in between sets.

row reverse fly


Try incorporating one or two of these finishers every week at the end of an upper body training day to add some variety and extra training volume.

An Evidence Based Approach to Programming

Here is the introduction to a chapter on personal training that I have been working on. This chapter covers programming.

When putting together a resistance training program it is particularly useful to identify and group different types of movement patterns. Once fundamental movement patterns have been identified the trainer can prescribe the appropriate exercises that fit the client’s capabilities for the pattern. Multi-joint movements in strength training programs have been grouped in a variety of different ways. For example Kritz et. al. states that there are seven fundamental patterns; squat pattern, lunge pattern, upper body push pattern, upper-body pull patterns, bend patterns, twist pattern and single leg pattern (Kritz 2010). Strength coaches Nick Tumminello and Juan Carlos Santana talk about the five pillars of movement which include locomotion, rotation, pushing, pulling, and raising and lowering the center of gravity.

Patterns have been broken up into several different ways. Irrespective of the name of the pattern, being able to differentiate between certain movements is an important part of putting an effective and balanced program together. For the sake of the text we will identify eleven and then describe exercises that fit into each category.

(1)   Hip hinge patterns

(2)   Squat pattern

(3)   Single leg hip dominant

(4)   Single leg knee dominant

(5)   Lunge pattern

(6)   Upper body vertical push pattern

(7)   Upper body vertical pull pattern

(8)   Upper body horizontal push pattern

(9)   Upper body horizontal pull pattern

(10)  Locomotion

(11)   Rotation

This chapter will focus specifically on identification of exercises that fall into each category and will very briefly touch on coaching and what basic muscle actions are used for each movement. Subsequent chapters will focus on coaching the actual movements. Particular attention is spent on the squat and hinge patterns.

Continue reading by clicking the link here CLIENT PROGRAMMING

After reading this chapter I recommend reading this ACSM resistance training for healthy adults

The Four Types Of Resistance Technology

AFI_Stack_01What is resistance technology?

This is an essay I wrote about the four types of resistance technology that are out there.  It is an academic study of exercise science and fitness gadgets and gizmos, that fitness nerds like myself may find interesting.  I hope you enjoy. (more…)