Personal Training 101:Program Variables andDesign
Athletic Trainer Emeritus, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, Ohio; and
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.
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. Training age 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
sets; reps; loads; periodization
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