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MOST POPULAR: How to write a balanced program

Updated: Oct 22, 2022

Okay, so you might have read my posts before that was telling you about how for the majority of general population, you're looking at “bodybuilding'' in order to get them the results that they're looking for. They want to look strong. They don't necessarily want to be excessively strong unless they're doing a specific sport. Okay, let's fast track this a little bit more. I'm going to give you exactly the style of program that if you wanted to create a completely balanced program that you should involve.

NOTE: All of the exercises and the placement of the exercises should be placed around what you do in your movement screen. That's the whole point of the movement screen. Otherwise, why isn't your client just finding something off the internet? A personal trainer is not just there to tell you what to do. A personal training uses experience and is like an artist putting together the things that you need to do to get to the right place.

So that said, when you have looked at the movement screen when you've ruled out that you're not going to do more harm than good by even intervening with this person. Then you need to look at what you can do to get the person best to their goals. If they had the Trendelenburg effect when they were walking then maybe you want to look at glute strength or maybe look at other aspects of their body that are compensating for this Trendelenburg effect that you're getting. So from there, putting in exercises in the volume required of the following to achieve the homeostasis and thriving characteristics of a really good ideal program.

So this is all if someone is not working towards say a marathon. If they're working towards a marathon, then you need to be getting them to the best place that they can be so that the marathon is not just something that they are able to do but second of all that they don't just tolerate that they actually might even enjoy or look forward to.

Alright, so that aside, we're gonna INCLUDE a few things to target (and the volume of each target is dictated by the clients baseline). Once the progressive program has worked through their "weaker links" by more volume of some than others, we re-evaluate the level of each required.

1. The first thing is stability and balance, your ability to be able to balance on one leg or be able to just balance in general this is something that you're going to want to look at because this is going to stop someone from falling over.

2. Proprioception, the ability for the person to know where their body is in space. I had one client that when they came in for a movement screen, there was just something that was just not right. When I was screening the client she was constantly looking at her reflection in windows. There was no mirrors in the part of the gym that I was doing the screening. And I just happened to get a bit of hypothesis that she may be someone that wasn't able to correctly know where her body was in space without the use of reflective surfaces. When I contacted her referring physiotherapist, it actually turned out that that was correct. And that was one of the reasons that this client had always been injuring herself. So always be looking out for subtle cues. And proprioception is something that you can build up over time by implementing things like reaction and being able to move in space and reach for things and that sort of thing. So that is something that can be built into your really good program with some of the other things that you do.

3. Another one to address would be reaction as well. "Reaction" I like to put that in with fast twitch response stuff. So response and reaction and fast twitch muscles. I have a lot of classes I've tried out where the personal trainer has programmed in a lot of time under tension moves where everything is done really slow and that sort of thing. And that's what the entire program is about not just what one day is about. And that to me is a bit of a missed opportunity because over the age of that sort of 35 people are losing fast twitch muscles every year and if you're not using it, you're losing it. So you're going to be losing fast twitch muscles over time. We do not need to be training people to be any slower than they are already. I get that we want to be doing things with the correct form, and to me I want people to move well slow before we make it faster…. and we want to be doing things with control. But there's a level where if we're doing things too slow, we also need to make sure that there is a balance in the program where we're also addressing doing things on our reaction or speed or response or that sort of thing. So incorporating at least one exercise to address in the way required.

4. Core is another one. Remember, core is middle third of your body and not just core in terms of like let's do lots of crunches, a variety of moves that work on your transverse abdominal muscles from a range of different directions, and pelvic floor as well. And also training the body to use the percentage required for the job that is needed to be done. So in the 80s I wasn't alive, but I hear that they were saying about tense the core like someone's about to punch you. Well, if you're just tensing your core like someone's about to punch you and you're not about to punched and simply all you're doing is picking up a pencil from the ground, you're going to fatigue your core very quickly for the times that you do need your core. So I don't feel like that's very productive for getting the sense of what you need for the task. So training percentages and there's certain exercises that you can use to train the percentages off the core.

5. Also, depending on whether you're hyper mobile or hypo mobile, you're going to need some mobility work. And I say mobility not flexibility. Mobility is the ability to get into ranges with strength and control. And not just the you know doing the splits without any control at all. So mobility for the people that are hypo mobile, but people that are hyper mobile training, motor control and training the correct position to begin for certain movements, e.g. the starting endpoint for certain movements, so that you're actually training some crossover skills for day to day life.

6. On top of that, include some compound exercises. Compound exercises can help to fire up the core also increase the amount of hormones that are released in the body that helps us with longevity, feeling more youthful, feeling more energetic, all of those really great things and help with muscle building as well. So compound exercises, where appropriate, are really good for that. And you can also have some really good bang for buck exercises that are not axial loading. So think about incorporating those if there's any kind of contraindication in the movement screen that you don't want to be loading up through the midsection as much.

7. I would use some accessory movements being isolation movements only because it's going to give your client the feeling that they are starting to look different. They actually feel like they're working more so than other exercises. So that's also a success move as well. It can actually help you get more improvement from your functional movements as well. Because getting your client more knowledge of where the muscle is that you're wanting to work in some sort of functional movement that's got a combination of a few movements and that kinetically training, all built into each other. If a client has that really sharp feeling of this is what working my hamstrings feels like. And you ask them where they feel it and they know what that feeling is and that's going to really help them. It is also to that's going to help them if there's someone that suffers from a chronic injury or a chronic illness where they get soreness all the time. Learning about that kind of feeling that you get after you've worked a muscle in isolation can also teach them to know the difference between muscle soreness and when it's something to do with their injury or their illness. So it can help them get more from those exercises. It can also bring up exercises in an activation sense as well. So it's useful for those things.

8. And then I add some functional movements and not for the reason that you might think. Functional movements I think are great because they actually are helping the client to almost learn how to move in a more agile way during the day. So it's kind of like a slower way of doing the movements. Do I think that functional movements should make up the majority of someone's training? Not really, because if we want to get great results for a client, we want to be looking at how we can load up movement patterns in a really safe but effective way and we can't really do that if the limiting factor is say, twisting with a dumbbell to an overhead reach and squatting with it. Like these movements require different weights. And therefore if you're combining those, then you've got a weigh limiter there that's going to cause the movement to be impaired as a result of how heavy you can lift for the weakest variable there.

To get someone to look like they work out, you're gonna need some isolation movements, you're also going to need all of the things that we just said for a balanced program.

I do hear a lot of the diehard functional experts that have seen a lot of great things happen for their clients when they've added functional movements and I do not want to disregard that. Getting any client moving really well is a really good idea. The reason I propose it in the sessions is more so in a firing up the cerebellum sort of sense, and helping the person feel better when they're taking up activities. They're not used to going snowboarding or if they want to go dancing or learn a wedding dance, but knowing how to move helps. So that sort of thing. Having the sort of mental patterns and that proprioception involved with like how to move the body in different directions is going to help with that. But having that as the main foundation is not going to make them look chiseled. Anyone that you see looking chiseled from Functional Patterns did not use functional patterns to get chiseled. They were using bodybuilding or other movements which got them the muscle to begin with. And then they're maintaining by doing their functional patterns.

Although I have a lot of friends that are in that functional space that are diehard people, I would suggest that the most functional exercises are things like being able to get up off a chair or be able to lower yourself down to a chair without dropping, being able to reach down to the bottom cupboard without making too many sighs being able to lift your kids without making those funny groaning noises, being able to get on the pitch on the parent's soccer team without injuring your ACL. These are all things that I see to be functional and you can achieve that through other means besides wasting someone's time in the gym.

Now, that said if the person you're training has longer than your 45 minutes, 60 minutes, six days a week longer than that to be able to dedicate to what you're trying to achieve with doing these functional movements full time and then doing maybe some skills training where you're trying to teach, like Olympic lifting and you've just got them with a broomstick for hours on end. Well then yeah, I could see a definite benefit to incorporating those kind of cool little funky moves into it. But if they don't have a lot of time as it is, the payoff of the exercises with a broomstick are not really going to get them that far and they're going to get very frustrated, and they're very unlikely to be continuing to go and go and go with you. They're more likely to give up. Also, they're less likely to see results that matter to them. Unless like I said, they're going for some sort of special competition where they want to be able to do an Olympic lifter, that sort of thing.

So team, I'm bringing out a book that's going to help you with programming and considerations for general population clients. If this is something that you're interested in, please reach out. Give me any feedback or any things that you'd like to see in the book which specifically will include things like macro cycles, meso cycles and things to consider for training the general population.

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