-“Thinking Outside the Box”: Program Design-
Before I get to writing, I just want to say “THANK YOU” to all those who have checked out the new issue of TRAINER NATION!!!! If you haven’t seen it yet, shame on you! 🙂 Tons of people have already read it, and i’ve gotten some great reviews! You won’t be disappointed!
With that being said, on with today’s post!
I recently responded to a thread on the Super-Trainer Forums, in which a trainer said:
“Ok so i feel i can always design programs which are fun, however it never goes a stray to have a resource to get exercises from… i was just reading the TRAINERNATION e-magazine and found some fun and exciting exercises that i never had thought of. There was a fair few plyometric drills and other activities in the home trainers tool box section…. So now i am wondering if there is any resource out there that you may have come across which has helped you in your program design? Whether it be an online resource or a book from the library, i’m all for new exercise… anyone??”
Since I am the author of the “home trainer’s tool box” article that was mentioned, I wanted to offer my $0.02! So, here’s what I wrote:
I have a TON of books…wow…I like to pick what I feel is the “best” from the “best” out there. I also like to put my own “spin” on things, so my clients’ workouts are fresh and fun Over the past four years or so, i’ve really been able to put together my own “system”, so to speak, which is a fusion of several different approaches. I am a big fan of JC Santana, and he’s got an excellent book on program design that should give you some new ideas (The Essence of Program Design).
A great way to “think outside the box” when it comes to exercises is to do this:
1. Make a list of the “basic” movement patterns (ie – push, pull, squat, bend, etc). You can break down push and pull into horizontal and vertical.
2. For each category, make a list of “basic” exercises (ie – for horizontal push, you could say: push-up, bench press, etc)
3. For each exercise, think of ways you can “tweak” it to create different exercises (ie – change the stance, equipment, angle, limb involvement, etc)
4. Come up with an exercise that fits into each “tweak” category (ie – change of stance for a push-up might be staggered hands, equipment used might be hands on dumbbells, angle change might be placing feet on bench, limb involvement might be a one-arm push-up…yeah, I know, that last one is a little far-reaching, but…)
When you sit down and begin to look at things this way, you will be able to build a “list” of exercises! Also, you can use this type of thinking to come up with exercises specific to your client!
Here are two examples of how i’ve put my “spin” on basic total-body exercises.
The first is what I call as “Unveven Pushup Plank with Rotational Knee Drive.” Here i’ve taken a basic Pushup Plank (what most call a “high plank”) and made it more “fun” by adding the knee drive. In addition, i’ve thrown in rotation with the knee drive, which makes it more challenging. Obviously i’ve made this exercise even more unique by using the bleachers. What I found to be really great about this particular variation is the fact that the non-moving leg must really work to maintain proper stabilization, while the moving leg “drives” the rotation. Also, you’ll notice that the opposite shoulder girdle and hip are the one’s in charge of stabilizing the body. These hurt!
The second exercise i’ve put my “spin” on is a Reverse Bridge. I’ve taken this static position and added a knee drive to it, thus making it an “Unveven Reverse Bridge with Knee Drive.” What’s going on here is dynamic stabilization! The posterior chain is tested, and the non-moving hip is really getting challenged. I must add that these are much easier to do with the feet in a lower position (as in the video)! This is a great progression to work up to doing the same movement on the floor.