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9/3/2012 9:04:50 AM -
Power Programming

This is from my training partner Brian Holloway. He's the head athletic trainer at a prestigious private school and The Director of Performance Enhancement for Total Athlete Conditioning. I know I have mentioned him numerous times. He is such an incredible wellspring of training information. So he sends me this email the other day. It is too good not to share. Hopefully we can urge Brian to write some further installments of "Power Programming."

Here’s the first installment of my Power Programming series. Why this topic? Because I felt like it…critiques are welcome! Oh, and it’s about you…well, sort of.


Think about how many decisions, most of which small and seemingly insignificant, are made within a training session. They are not a conscious part of the plan when you wrote the program but they arise during every training session and have an enormous impact on how well or poorly the session goes. In fact, the sum of these decisions may be as or more important in determining the overall training effect than the plan itself.

As an example, let's reflect on a few of the ‘in the moment’ decisions that took place during Vincent's last scheduled training session:

Decision 1: Heading into the gym, the plan called for a deload where he was supposed to take 80% for a double. While warming-up, we casually started talking about working up with singles and calling it whenever it started to 'feel heavy'. We all agreed, f*ck the doubles and the 80%- let's just see how it goes.

Decision 2: While working up, Vincent noted that his body was 'shaking' with weights in his hand. A sure sign of CNS fatigue and an indicator that it was time to shut it down, right? Since it was only 315 at this point, he decided to take one more jump and see how it felt. As he set-up to take 4 plates for what we assumed would be his last set of the night, I cued, "squeeze the bar." Result: no more shaking, the weight jumped out of his hands, and the question of CNS fatigue was put to rest.

Decision 3: As he worked up, the weights continued to move smooth and fast- 410, 460, 500…at 500, it moved so well we figured there'd be no harm in taking 550 before calling it. 550 went as well as expected based on his previous sets- another solid session in the books! Minutes later, however, Vincent was remarking that he'd really like to take 575 so, in the moment, we decided to load it up and ride the lightning. Minutes later, he was driving 575 off of his chest for his last deload rep of the day!

Could Vincent have shut it down early and saved it for another day? Sure. But, things were going well and there was no doubt that his preparedness on this day would allow him to hit these weights so why not be flexible and roll with it? Had it not gone as well, we would have shut it down as planned.

From this example, some might conclude that we're a bunch of meatheads who can't follow a plan or we're a crew of enablers who want nothing more than to see our training partner self-destruct. I believe this example is further proof that the plan is more or less a guide that points us in a direction, but it is our collective experience, intuition, and opportune decision making that determines the effectiveness of the program.

Brian Holloway, ATC, CSCS

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