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Fitness Programming Concepts At A Glance

It briefly touches on the concept of progressive overload, what it is, why it’s important for programming, and how to keep it in mind as you go about programming. It also introduces performance levels and how those largely determine periodization. Finally, it applies these concepts at a high level with respect to strength, hypertrophy, endurance, fat loss, and general work capacity.


Progressive overload is the idea of progressively increasing a stimulus, to cause a reaction that can be recovered from, that leads to an adaptation that is cumulative. All training must utilize progressive overload in some fashion in order to continue to drive gains.


The first step in programming is beginning with the end in mind. After you define your purpose and goals, you start by looking at your present performance level and deciding how you will use periodization in your program for a high level organization.


Current performance levels are novice, intermediate, and advanced levels of athletes. Novices can recover workout to workout, intermediate athletes can recover week to week and month to month, and advanced athletes take a long time to see incremental levels of improvement.


Advanced athletes always use a coach though a coach can be useful for all levels. Our focus is on the intermediate level of athletes.


Novices require training that focuses on increasing one training variable workout to workout. The increase in the training variable must be gradual, and they should start their programming with a very light training variable. As it is progressively increased they are able to recover and adapt to that stimulus. Novices can see incredible gains, but eventually they will stall.


Stalling can occur from being fatigued, using poor technique, or generally reaching intermediate levels.


Intermediate athletes require stimulus that takes too long to recover from such that need to use periodization to train often without fatigue. The degree to which the period lasts and the degree to which different training variables are introduced and varied depends on the specific athlete. This is why individualized programming becomes important.


Periodization in where the intensity and volume of work are adjusted over time, or a period. It is used for fatigue management, adjusting training variables, and causing stimulus. Undulating periodization is largely what we’ll focus on in subsequent modules.


Strength focused athletes will use linear programming in the beginning to milk novice gains. They will increase the weight of the load workout to workout. Eventually they will stall and they will vary volume and intensity to increase muscle size and realize further strength gains.


Hypertrophy athletes will focus on volume and frequency and large muscle groups in the beginning. As they reach high levels they’ll need different workout splits, varied exercises, varied exercise protocols, and sometimes more isolation to continue muscle growth.


Endurance athletes train in a vary similar manner to strength athletes. In later modules we will introduce the idea that strength and endurance are the same, so like and subscribe.


Fat loss and overall general work capacity are a combination of all three disciplines. Fat loss is centred around a caloric deficit, but workouts can be designed to facilitate and increased deficit and maintenance of the deficit due to recovery. They should train with a combination of hypertrophy and endurance. General work capacity should train with a combination of strength and endurance, but should vary the volume and intensity and exercise selection in a manner that yields results. A lot of general work capacity style programming is too random and doesn’t lead to results so good programming will adjust all of these.

In later modules we’ll talk about tried and tested programs you should consider running through before doing your own programming and we’ll start to cover more programming concepts in further depth