Our programs are always based on a client’s goals and needs, but there are other variables we consider once we get into the more detailed specifics of their program. When designing progressive programs for our members, the loading scheme (sets/reps) will largely determine what exercise is chosen.
Some exercises lend themselves to being loaded more significantly than others, so those would do best in the phases where the rep ranges are lower. It is important to remember that the client adapts to the rep range the fastest and the exercise the slowest. The key programming variables that matter the most in order are:
- Repetitions (Volume).
- Sets (Volume)
- Loading (Volume / Intensity)
- Rest Periods
- Exercise Selection (most individualized)
We can see that Volume is the biggest driver of strength, hypertrophy, and fat loss training (the top 3 variables) so these would be manipulated the most when designing a program. It’s clear that in our periodized programs we do not have to change every exercise with every new phase or stage.
We can keep a common thread throughout an entire stage by keeping some of the most important lifts (the lifts a client needs to work on, or are limited to due to injury, mobility, training ability, etc.) in the program for multiple phases or stages. The set, rep and load variations will provide enough of a stimulus to get a continued training effect.
The movements that might have to be progressed or changed more frequently would be core/motor control exercises and bodyweight only movements. These would simply be progressed or changed to another exercise in the same movement category in order to fit the set/rep scheme better and put the client at the edge of their ability level, which is the best way to cause adaptation.
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