Building the Program

Tell me your goal(s), I’ll write you a program.

 

You want to gain 10lbs for next year’s rugby season?  Good, we’ve got to squat, hinge, push, pull, and everything else, with appropriate amounts of time under tension and conditioning to keep you in rugby shape.

Drop unwanted body fat for your 20 year high school reunion?  Hmmm, we’ll probably need to squat, hinge, push, pull, and everything else, with appropriate amounts of time under tension, and inefficient conditioning to drop those unwanted inches.

 

In case you have not already caught on, I’m heavily influenced by Dan John.  I really agree with Dan that it is this simple.

Plug in any crazy system- FMS, PRI, FRC, etc… and I can make them work within Dan’s approach.

 

I’m also heavily influenced by Charlie Weingroff’s contributions to breaking down the FMS.

What does the screen tell you?

What do you do with that information?

 

Today I am going to show how I’ve combined their approaches, along with 11 years (to the month, this month!) of my experience, to design strength and conditioning programs for people looking to get from A to B, C, D, E, F, G…

 

The Movements

So we already said that we can:

  • Squat
  • Hinge
  • Push
  • Pull
  • Everything else

But I am going to expand on this list, and break it down to how I see programming.

  • Lower Push (unilateral and bilateral)
  • Hinge (unilateral and bilateral)
  • Upper Push (unilateral, bilateral, vertical, and horizontal)
  • Upper Pull (unilateral, bilateral, vertical, and horizontal)
  • Core (anti: anterior and lateral)
    • Anti? Extension, flexion, and rotation
  • Everything else
    • Roll
    • Crawl
    • Carry
    • Throw
    • Jump
    • Run/Sprint

Am I missing anything?  That about sums it up for what I’d drop in.  If you’re thinking I missed something, I have a feeling it’s a combination movement (i.e. climbing).

Moving on.

 

Filling in the Movements

I was first introduced to the “stick figure” approach I’m about to share with you by Alwyn Cosgrove back in 2013.  This radically simple idea changed everything for me…

A drawing from one of my staff in-services in October of 2013.

The above drawing was one of the first sketches I did to try and impart this information on to my staff at Beyond Strength Performance NOVA, LLC in Dulles, VA.  My oh my we’ve come a long way since then…  But, the basic idea is there.  Let’s break it down.

When we write programs, we look for balance.  Lower push to lower pull and upper push to upper pull.  These are the two big ones.  Sometimes we dig into balancing unilateral to bilateral and vertical to horizontal, but let’s keep it simple with the first two for now…

Next, we look at fitting all of this stuff into a program as efficiently as possible.  Efficiency of time, effort, and balance.

What’s that mean?

  1. Let’s get a lot done in a little time.
    • Full body workouts
  2. Let’s pair things that don’t really compete with the same muscle groups.
    • Looking at the stick figure, lateral view of guy, this would be pairing diagonals (lower push with upper pull)
  3. Let’s make sure we train the movements evenly across the training week.
    • Hopefully self-explanatory, but reps of pushes should balance out with pulls, etc…
    • Yes, I know we should probably pull more than push- but keeping things SIMPLE.

Movements Guy 2

What might that look like?

 

Day One

[Power Block]

A1. Overhead MB Throw w/ Step (everything else, throw)

A2. Side Plank (core, lateral “anti”)

[Strength Block]

B1. Double Kettlebell Front Squat (lower push, bilateral)

B2. Chin Up (upper pull, bilateral, vertical)

[Assistance Block]

C1. Single Leg RDL w/ Landmine (lower pull, unilateral)

C2. Push-up (upper push, bilateral, horizontal)

.

Day Two

[Power Block]

A1. Seated Vertical Jump (everything else, jump)

A2. Plank (core, anterior “anti”)

[Strength Block]

B1. Deadlift (lower pull, bilateral)

B2. Overhead Press (upper push, bilateral, vertical)

[Assistance Block]

C1. Box Step Up w/ Dumbbells (lower push, unilateral)

C2. Inverted Row (upper pull, bilateral, horizontal)

If you went through with your stick figure and put X’s down as shown on the diagram above, it should look perfectly balanced:

Balance

So there’s a good two or three day per week training template.  If it was to be three days per week, you would simply alternate weeks of One, Two, One, then Two, One, Two.  So, while the individual weeks will be unbalanced, it all works out by the end of month with 6 sessions of each day.  The current Strength Faction program is an example of spreading the intensity across the week by adding more training days.  Two sessions of power, strength, and conditioning, and one session of assistance with appropriate conditioning throughout.  But, the movements are still balanced.

.

Filling in the Sets and Reps

No need to spend a lot of time here.  Go back and re-read the last few lessons (Power, Strength, and Assistance).  Pick your power, strength, and assistance set/rep schemes.  Wave the volume across the month like we laid out in the lesson PR and Go Home.

Have a why.

Program.

Train.

 

What About Conditioning?

Go back and read Managing Weekly Training Intensity.  Start hard, finish easy.  Make choices that are appropriate for the goal(s).

Have a why.

Program.

Train.


Enter the Functional Movement Screen (FMS)

I am not going to teach the screen with this lesson.  If this is all brand new to you, I can not recommend attending a level I and II weekend enough!

The goal of this lesson is to teach you WHAT the FMS tells you and how to take that information to your EXISTING program.

Again, this information is heavily influenced by Charlie Weingroff.

The 7 Screens

  1. Deep Squat - The deep squat tell us a lot about, ummmm, squat patterns.  Yeah, yeah, upper body extension, ankle mobility, blah, blah, blah.  If it’s a two or three, I’m comfortable training the squat (appropriately).
  2. Hurdle Step – The hurdle step tells us about single leg balance (unsupported), acceleration (raising your foot, separating your hips until your foot can reach your tibial tuberosity height is pivotal for sprint mechanics), and steps/hills.
  3. In-Line Lunge – The in-line lunge tells us about single leg balance (supported), deceleration, and lunging.
  4. Shoulder Mobility – Shoulder mobility tells us about pushing, and sometimes pulling.
  5. Active Straight Leg Raise – Active straight leg raise tells us about hinging.
  6. Trunk Stability Push-up – Trunk stability push-up tells us about anti-extension (“anti” core) and horizontal pushing.
  7. Rotary Stability – Rotary stability tells us about locomotion and rotation.  Ipsilateral is rolling, contralateral is crawling.

Now, what do these things impact in terms of selecting movements?  This is where I have combined the stick figure approach and Charlie’s “what.”  Here’s a slide from my program design seminar:

FMS meaning stick figure

Hopefully your head didn’t just explode.  This is simply an auditing tool, that is it.

“What do I need to add, remove, or modify?”

 

Using the program example above, let’s say that shoulder mobility is a no-go (1 left, 2 right).

Do I throw away the program and start over?

Hell no!

I simply scan the program for where those blue X’s would be.

Day One

[Power Block]

A1. Overhead MB Throw w/ Step (everything else, throw)

A2. Side Plank (core, lateral “anti”)

[Strength Block]

B1. Double Kettlebell Front Squat (lower push, bilateral)

B2. Chin Up (upper pull, bilateral, vertical)

[Assistance Block]

C1. Single Leg RDL w/ Landmine (lower pull, unilateral)

C2. Push-up (upper push, bilateral, horizontal)

.

Day Two

[Power Block]

A1. Seated Vertical Jump (everything else, jump)

A2. Plank (core, anterior “anti”)

[Strength Block]

B1. Deadlift (lower pull, bilateral)

B2. Overhead Press (upper push, bilateral, vertical)

[Assistance Block]

C1. Box Step Up w/ Dumbbells (lower push, unilateral)

C2. Inverted Row (upper pull, bilateral, horizontal)

 

Now, what do I know?

Trunk stability push-up was cleared, so I’m not too concerned with horizontal pushing/pulling.  We can right away (probably) leave inverted row and push-up alone.  I’ll just need to watch the reps (ummmm, yeah, coach!) for anything that looks off.

But, we do know that shoulder mobility is asymmetrical, so right away, at least if I’m doing the program, I’m removing overhead work.  Goodbye chin up and overhead press, and maaaaybe overhead medicine ball throw.  There’s all kinds of options I could replace them with.  Landmine presses, single arm rows, horizontal press variations, and on and on and on and on…  Unilateral work is awesome.  Train for symmetry!  Have a why.  Program.  Train.

Here’s another slide from my program design seminar that may help:

FMS stick figure

So there’s remove/modify.  Anything I want to add?

Hopefully you said SHOULDER MOBILITY work!

This is where the FMS correctives, FRC, PRI, and all those other systems can work with the FMS and our program design.

Don’t overthink this stuff!  Something like this:

Day Two

[Power Block]

A1. Seated Vertical Jump (everything else, jump)

A2. Plank (core, anterior “anti”)

A3. Rib Grab T-Spine Rotation- mobility

[Strength Block]

B1. Deadlift (lower pull, bilateral)

B2. Standing Landmine Press (upper push, bilateral, horizontal)

B3. Suitcase Shoulder CARs – motor control

[Assistance Block]

C1. Box Step Up w/ Dumbbells (lower push, unilateral)

C2. Inverted Row (upper pull, bilateral, horizontal)


 

Hip and Shoulder Mobility

Now I know what you’re thinking…

“They’re saying all of this, and yet we are only looking at hip and shoulder mobility in Strength Faction.  Blasphemy!!!”

Here’s the thing.

Cleaning up hip and shoulder mobility almost always clears the rest of the test, with time.

In our experience, the rest of the FMS is taken care of through a well-balanced, intelligently designed program, carried out with from proper form and intensity.

And I know, I know- we didn’t use the shoulder mobility test from the FMS.  We swapped it out for the SFMA.

Why?

Well, we can’t crawl through our screens and measure your shoulder mobility in person!

But, at your gym, with your people, we highly recommend doing the whole screen every time for a few reasons.

  1. It tells the whole story.
  2. You can typically clear it pretty quickly, and people love quantifiable improvement.
  3. You may find things that can’t be explained/taken care of with a strength and conditioning approach.
    • In this case, build a good network and refer out often!

What now?

Audit your client’s programs!  Can you improve upon what you’re already doing?


 

What’s next?

Next week we will really tie this all up and present the whole system in one smooth presentation…