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Part 3: Good Programs Leave a Footprint

August 3, 2016
Mary Kay

Every good program, even one that’s focused on fixing weakness, leaves a footprint. It tells you where you’ve been and where you’re going. But if you’re someone who’s only learned about weightlifting in a gym setting or by following the workout of the day (WOD) from a whiteboard or website, chances are you wouldn’t recognize one. That certainly was my case just 5 years ago. So, what does a good program look like? I’ve experimented with many different programs…some copied from friends, some purchased off the internet from a reputable strength coach and some I had custom developed for me. And while all of them had inherent goodness, the ones that worked the best for me had one thing in common. They looked at my mechanical individuality and figured out which methods my body needed to get stronger and move better.

Here’s a good activity.  Look at the following workout and ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I tell what this person is working on?
  • Can I tell why certain methods were selected?​
  • ​Can I tell how hard the workout is?

Sample Workout
Warm-Up:  Yoga Plex (3 x 10)
Warm-Up:  KB OH Walk (2 x 20 meters)​
A) Banded Knee OH Squat (3 x 8)
B) Snatch Practice (5 x 4) - Use light weight. Practice on skills.
C1) BB Deadlift (5 x 6) - Use a challenging weight, not heavy.  Focus on the perfect rep.
C2) Planks (5 x 1) - Hold each rep ALAP.
D1) Inverse Row (Rings or BB) (3 x10).
D2) Scapular Plane - Inverse Rotation (3 x 15)
E) Cardio Intervals (15/45, 30/30, 45/30, 30/30, 15,45)

So, right off the bat, you should notice a couple of things:

  • (Focus/Methods) The workout is largely upper body focused with some skills (snatch) ad mobility/core work (planks/scapular plane) potentially either to help strengthen muscles used in the snatch or to resolve some shoulder/core imbalances.
  • (Intensity) The program is not hard, but it involves work.

This isn’t rocket science, but good programs are inherently well-constructed and designed specifically for a person's unique mechanical capabilities.  You can see it.  A few more tips about good program design include:  1) a good program is balanced…meaning it has some combination of skills, strength, conditioning, etc., 2) the planned workouts average 1 - 1.5 hours. and 3) the methods work synergistically to accomplish a specific goal:  strength, hypertrophy, fat loss.

So, If you're not sure if your programs are producing the results you desire or not sure if they are right for your body, send me an email.  I'm happy to help out.


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