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Personal Training 101

Personal Training 101

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Published by Wes Geary
Personal Training 101
Personal Training 101

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Published by: Wes Geary on Jan 10, 2013
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Personal Training 101:Program Variables andDesign
DanWathen,MA,ATC,CSCS*D,NSCA-CPT*D,FNSCA
1
andPatrickHagerman, EdD,CSCS,NSCA-CPT,FNSCA
21
Athletic Trainer Emeritus, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, Ohio; and
2
Sport Skill Development, QuestPersonal Training Inc, Nowata, Oklahoma
S U M M A R Y
BUILDING SUCCESSFUL TRAININGPROGRAMS FOR NOVICE ANDINTERMEDIATE CLIENTS DEPENDSON A TRAINING PROGRAM THATPRODUCES AN APPROPRIATEOVERLOAD WITHOUT INDUCINGOVERTRAINING. THE APPLICATIONOF A SPECIFIC NUMBER OF SETSAND REPETITIONS PER EXERCISE,AN APPROPRIATE LOAD, ANDCHOICE OF EXERCISES IN ATRAINING PROGRAM IS CRITICALTO ITS SUCCESS. BASIC CON-CEPTS OF PROGRAM DESIGN ANDA SAMPLE BASIC PERIODIZATIONPROGRAM ARE PROVIDED.
INTRODUCTION
O
ne of the biggest challengesa strength and conditioning professional faces is designing programs that will provide the greatestbenefit to their client. Given that sucha program must induce an overload tostress the muscles and require the bodyto change, each component of theprogram must be considered in relationto the final goal. Program componentsthat can be manipulated include thenumber of sets and repetitions, percentof one repetition maximum (%1RM),amount of rest between sets, and theexercises used.
SINGLE VERSUS MULTIPLE SETS
Few topics in resistance training havebeen debated more than the questionof the proper number of sets to achieveoptimal strength gains. The center of this debate is whether a single set ormultiple sets of an exercise provide thegreatest strength gains. In the early1960s, Berger (2,3) performed a seriesof experiments with college-aged nov-ice trainees, concluding that 3 sets of 3–9 repetitions (reps) was best forstrength gains when performed 3 timesper week. Berger further concludedthat it was only necessary to work atthe repetition maximum (RM) onceper week. Berger’s work, along withmany studies and meta-analyses dem-onstrating the superiority of multiplesets over a single set, has beencriticized (4,5,7). This criticism stemsfrom the fact that a single set of exercise has been shown to producestrength gains in some studies (4,5,7).The reason that a single set may pro-duce strength gains is based on the idea that if a client moves from doing nostrength training to completing oneset of several exercises, an overload isproduced that will result in somestrength gain. However, the currentscientific literature demonstrates thatmultiple sets will produce strengthgains that are superior to single sets(1–3,6,8–14). So although a single setmay produce an increase in strength, itwill be limited to the overload induced,and multiple sets will provide a greateroverload and therefore greater strengthgains over time.
TRAINING AGE AND VOLUME
The training age of a client is theamount of time the person has beentraining, measured in months or years;the clients are categorized as novice,intermediate, or advanced. Traininage is more critical to the exerciseprescription than chronological age orgender because it partially determinesthe technical ability of the client andhow quickly their body adapts andrecovers from exercise (1,8,13). Gen-erally speaking, as a client progressesin training age, so does their abilityto handle a greater overall volume of training. Novices are generally clientswith less than 6 months of strengthtraining experience. Intermediate train-ees have 6–12 months of strengthtraining experience, and advancedclients will have at least a year of strength training experience.There are unlimited ways the compo-nents of an exercise program can bedesigned, and there is no single pro-gram that works for everyone. How-ever, when working with noviceclients, a trainer may choose to followthe guidelines set forth by the NationalStrength and Conditioning Association(1) and American College of SportsMedicine (8) of performing 1–3 sets of 6–15 reps per exercise. Novices with noprevious strength training (training age = 0) may begin with a single set of each exercise, which will provide somestrength gains; however, those gainswill be limited because of the smallvolume of exercise, so when strength
KEY WORDS:
sets; reps; loads; periodization
Copyright
Ó
National Strength and Conditioning Association Strength and Conditioning Journal | www.nsca-lift.org
47
 
Table 1
Sample 6-month periodization program for the novice client
Wk D Sets Reps %1RM
Mesocycle 1: 6 wk 1 1 13 6 60 Heavy d1 2 13 6 50 Light d1 3 13 6 55 Moderate d2 1 13 8 602 2 13 8 502 3 13 8 553 1 13 10 603 2 13 10 503 3 13 10 554 1 13 12 604 2 13 12 504 3 13 12 555 1 13 14 605 2 13 14 505 3 13 14 556 1 13 6 60 Unloading w6 2 13 6 506 3 13 6 55Mesocycle 2: 6 wk 1 1 13 14 601 2 13 14 501 3 13 14 552 1 13 12 652 2 13 12 502 3 13 12 603 1 13 10 703 2 13 10 603 3 13 10 654 1 13 8 754 2 13 8 604 3 13 8 705 1 13 6 805 2 13 6 65(continued)
VOLUME 32 | NUMBER 3 | JUNE 2010
48
Program Variables and Design
 
gains are of great importance, 2–3 setsper exercise should be used to providemore volume (6,8,9–14). These initialvolumes of exercise will be sufficientto produce strength gains, mainlythrough the mechanisms of betterneuromuscular coordination and in-tramuscular recruitment. As the clientprogresses to intermediate and ad-vanced status, volume may be adjustedby adding sets and exercises, whereasreps can be lowered to allow for theuse of a greater %1RM. Clients withmore than 1 year of experience mayneed even more volume of training tocontinue to progress (1,8,13).
TRAINING INTENSITY
Training intensity is the amount of weight lifted relative to a client’s max-imumcapabilitiesforaprescribednum-ber of reps, usually denoted as %1RM.Training intensity along with variationin the number of sets, reps, length of rest periods between sets, and numberof exercises are the most critical ele-ments to sustain progress in resistancetraining (1,8,13). Most research indi-cates that working with loads of 50–60% of 1RM is sufficient for novicetrainees to make strength gains (8,11).However, as training progresses andstrength increases, a greater %1RMmust be used to continue progress. Toinsure proper training intensity andvariation for the client, a periodizedprogram should be developed (1,8,13).Novice trainees often have issues withtime commitment and compliancewith training programs (12). A personaltrainer generally needs to increase thevolume of exercise gradually to avoidhaving the client quit the programbecause of excessive soreness, fatigue,or time-related issues. It is critical thatnovice clients develop proper exer-cise technique before increasing resis-tance such that they should neversacrifice form for additional reps orresistance (1,13). 1RM may be testedafter a couple of weeks of introductorytraining or a RM can be used instead.A RM is the greatest amount of weightthat can be lifted for a specified numberof reps. For instance, if a client com-pletes 10 reps with 45 pounds, his orher 10RM for that exercise is45 pounds. The trainer can then adjustthe load by using a percentage of theRM for each exercise based on thenumber of reps to be performed.
PERIODIZATION FOR THENOVICE CLIENT
The novice client should begin strengthtraining 2–3 days per week. Classicperiodization varies loads on a dailybasis and moves from high volumewith low loads to low volume withhigh loads over time (12). The sampleperiodizationprogramshowninTable1is a reverse periodization model wherethe client moves from low/moderatevolume and load to high volume andmoderate load. In the authors’ experi-ence, the reverse periodization modelserves to prevent extreme soreness thatcan result from overtraining a noviceclient by using a lower initial volumethan classic periodization.There is quite a bit of trial and error inthe beginning of most novice programswhen finding loads that challenge butdo not overly stress the client. Typi-cally, a client can complete 6 reps witha load that is greater than 50–60% of 1RM, but for the sake of increasincompliance and learning correct tech-nique, the load will begin in this lowerrange and progress throughout theprogram. In this example, one of thedays will be considered the heavy day(at the high end of the prescribed%1RM), whereas the other day(s) willuse 5–10% less load than the heavy dayfor the same number of sets and reps.This allowsthe trainerto pick the heavyday when the client is best prepared. If the client is having a bad day (stressedout, not feeling well, and the like), theload can be adjusted to the moderateor light day load. An unloading week is used every 4–6 weeks with loads10–30% less than the preceding week.
PERIODIZATION FORINTERMEDIATE CLIENTS
As a client transitions from a novice toan intermediate, periodization can takeon additional specific goals for eachmesocycle. In the example shown inTable 2, a client begins with an endu-rance mesocycle, followed by a strengthmesocycle, and ending with a strengthand power mesocycle. The changes tosets, reps, and load are similar to thenovice periodization scheme, but thenumber of sets has increased, as hasthe %1RM used. Repetitions for mostexercises will remain within the 6–15range, but there are some exceptions tothe rule. Depending on the client’sgoals and their ability to perform frontsquats and dead lifts properly, someballistic/explosive lifting may be intro-duced during the intermediate phase;however, the reps should remain at 5or less for lifts, including power cleans,power snatches, one-arm snatches,
Table 1
(continued)
Wk D Sets Reps %1RM
5 3 13 6 706 13 13 6 60 Unloading w
Mesocycles 3 and 4: Repeat the same sets, reps, and %1RM assignments as in mesocycles 1 and 2 but change the exercises performed. A 2-week transitional phase of active rest will be inserted after the fourth mesocycle. Goals should continue to be perfecting technique and developinga base of strength and muscular endurance.Reps = repetitions; RM = repetition maximum.
Strength and Conditioning Journal | www.nsca-lift.org
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