“What’s Your Training Template?”
One of the emails I always seem to get is from people asking me, “What’s your training template?”.
This is a difficult question for me to answer because I believe it is impossible to have a set template that works for every individual. I realize that having a template helps to make things more automated but in reality, we can train a monkey to put exercises into an excel sheet but we cannot teach that same monkey to understand the needs of the individual and tailor the training program to meet those needs.
Rather than attempting to force the athlete into a set template or system I’d prefer to fit the template or system to the athlete, ensuring that they get what they need. I talked about some concepts of “giving the body what it needs” in an old blog article, Classifications of Massage, and my friend and colleague Mark McLaughlin talked about “giving the body what it needs” in training with his recent blog post article Advanced Training Methods For High School Athletes.
I talked about some of my ideas with regard to how I think about training program design during my practical lecture on the Strength in Motion Seminar DVD set. One of the things I talked about was trying to select exercises last and instead first thinking about and considering what I wanted to get from the individual physiologically. This allows me to choose the appropriate methods, set up the training week, and then, finally, I can select my exercises (based on the athletes needs, limitations, and abilities). Thus, things don’t ever seem to end up as a template where I always do the same thing with every person. Different people may have very different training programs depending on what they are training for and where they are in the training process.
Some rules that I do live by when thinking about training programs:
1. Think about what you want to achieve with the program from a physiological standpoint, choose the training methods that meet those goals, and then select the exercises that make the most sense for the individual.
2. Follow days of higher intensity and higher stress with days of lower intensity and lower stress to allow the body ample time to recover and adapt.
3. Enhance Requisite Competencies and don’t assume that just because an athlete is “elite” or at the highest level that these qualities are already developed (you’d be surprised!).
4. Enhance overall general fitness before developing specific fitness.
By sticking too these simple rules you can then create individualized programs and create training themes for each day and then pencil in the appropriate training methods for each athlete that represent said training theme ensuring that the athletes get what they need rather than trying to fit them to a strict template or system that may be appropriate for one athlete and not so appropriate for another.