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Exercise Order & Selection Part II

As previously discussed, we need to think about what we are going to do with our clients/athletes based off whatever testing criteria you have used.  This will dictate the corrective exercise selection that we will use to make the movement better.  You can find the discussion here.

After we have done a thorough warm-up and have finished our movement and plyometric series, we can get into the lift.  The questions are: What exercises am I going to put into the lift?  What is the overall training effect I am trying to achieve?  How much volume/intensity/load am I going to place on the individual?  These and in addition to how much rest will I need to provide?  How much time do I have with said athlete/client?  These are all great questions which will hopefully be answered below.


When working with a general population or athletic population that is coming to your facility, the restrictions aren’t as great.  There is virtually an open window of time to work with these individuals depending on their schedule.  Generally speaking, you can take your general population through a balanced session in 45-75 minutes depending on the difficulty of the day.  However, working with a high school or college team the demands are quite different.  If the athletes are in-season, the coaching staff may not even want the athletes to be training in the weight room.  To performance/strength and conditioning coaches this is absolutely frustrating, but that is a different conversation.  There is a total coaching contact time that the NCAA places on the athletes on a day to day basis that really makes it necessary to have your sessions planned very well.  Additionally, at the high school level, some kids play multiple sports throughout the year.  If a kid plays all three seasons and all three of the coaches don’t want to lift during the season, that kid will potentially not lift unless they’re hanging out with their buddies at the local commercial gym doing curls.  On top of that, this same athlete is most definitely participating in one or more summer sporting camps or club teams.  This potential athlete will more than likely burn out or get injured really quick.


With the general population and younger athletes, pick the exercises that are most important.  Depending on who you follow, the exercises will almost always include some sort of squatting, hinging, upper body pushing, upper body pulling, and some even say carries and ground work.  Put the more demanding exercises toward the beginning of the workout when the athlete is fresh.  To save time pair the upper and lower body exercises in a series or circuit.  This will minimize how much time the athlete is standing around watching the clock.  Unless of course, you are working with a very specialized population of lifters such as powerlifters or olympic lifters.  Even then you can provide the athlete with some sort of active recovery to perform.  Maybe you have a powerlifter who can’t squat all the way into the hole, hip correctives!  Or an olympic lifter who is lacking full shoulder flexion, shoulder correctives.  This is of course broad and basic, but that is probably the most important lesson: Keep It Simple!!

Training Effect

The training effect should also be simple.  If you’re working with general population who just wants to lose weight then make them move using a variety of exercises mentioned above.  They just want to be healthy? Keep a balanced program with regular testing built-in, in addition to every 8-12 weeks.  For an athlete it is usually be faster, stronger, more powerful, or move better.  In the beginning this is really simple.  If you have a young athlete who has virtually no training age they’re an open book.  Develop the foundation with this population!!!  They do not need the same specialized training that the Division 1 or professional athletes are getting.  Instead, make them really good at squatting, hinging, pushing, and pulling.  The athlete will achieve all of their goals.  It’s when their numbers start to plateau that we need to consider different methods.  As the athlete gets older, keep them consistent with their strength and conditioning work.


This is where semantics get involved.  Having just been to Joel Jamieson’s Certified Conditioning Coach (CCC) course, there are a whole host of things that could contribute to an athlete or client not performing.  As human beings, life has a funny way of getting in the way.  Whether it’s breaking up with a significant other, midterms, poor nutrition, fighting a cold, or bad sleep there are a lot of variables that can influence the outcome.  Having the athlete or client fill out some sort of subjective report when they walk in the door will help you as the coach determine what potential they have.  If you’re rolling in dough, you can invest in a product like the Omega Wave that will give you as the coach huge insight into the state of the athletes nervous system/well-being.


I hope that this has provided some insight to the beginning of program design.  These questions as well as many more are constantly circulating in my head and in conversation between myself and other coaches.  Please provide feedback in the comments section.

1 thought on “Exercise Order & Selection Part II

  1. […] Why do I keep saying: “depending on the time of year”?  In the offseason and preseason phases it makes perfect sense to ramp up the intensity over time.  While in-season, the athletes will be practicing on the field, ice, or court and will not need any further work there.  The coaches will be doing sprint or running drills as they see fit. The coaches will also make the athletes live in game-like situations.  That is the best possible sport-specific activity an athlete can do.  That is not to say that we will not be lifting in-season, because we absolutely will.  More on that to come (Part II). […]

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