Program design is much more difficult than meets the eye. Strength and conditioning coaches must take into consideration many elements before building a program. From a needs analysis to proper evaluation based on sport, the strength and conditioning coach must compile all available information to create an effective, appropriate program.

 

No matter what style of training you use, one of the most important things you can do is learn how to sequence the exercises and the different training segments in your program. Sequencing properly is important for many reasons. Let’s look at two significant ones:

 

 

  1. Central Nervous System Use
  2. Energy Production

 

The central nervous system is a key component when programming. It is needed for all lifts, but more importantly lifts or movements that require a high degree of technique, like Olympic lifting and jump training. The central nervous system allows the body to send impulses to the muscles quickly, so the movements occur at a speed that is useful for the mover and safe for the body. If the CNS becomes fatigued, impulses are slower, allowing less force production and possible technique failure. When this happens, injuries can take place.

 

To avoid CNS fatigue, proper rest intervals are needed, along with proper sequencing of movements. If rest and sequencing are correct, the body can restore energy and recharge the CNS to be ready for progressive overload or whatever the program is calling for.

 

Understanding energy production goes hand in hand with sequencing. Energy production shifts as we utilize it in highly technical lifts to higher energy movements like sprinting. Energy production has to be sequenced correctly with how technical the lifts or movements are. As previously mentioned, higher technique movements should be placed early in the workout, both for CNS use and energy availability, which is higher towards the beginning of the session.

 

The Sequence

Sequencing is crucial to any program. The correct sequence accounts for things like percentages, reps and sets. The higher the percentage of the lift, the closer to the beginning of the session it should be. If you sequence properly, you have a better chance to hit PRs, avoid overtraining, stay injury free, and have enough energy to finish a workout.

 

In general, programs should follow the pattern below:

 

1. Power movements

  • Plyometrics
  • Sprinting
  • Olympic lifting

 

2. Strength or core exercises

  • Squat variations
  • Bench variations
  • Overhead pressing variations
  • Posterior chain variations

 

3. Auxiliary work

  • Single joint movements
  • Higher rep movements
  • Smaller muscles

 

Sample Program Sequences

Program 1: Sports Performance With No Lifting

  1. Warm up
  2. Mobility
  3. Flexibility
  4. Correctives
  5. Dynamic warm up
  6. Agility ladder
  7. Plyometrics and Core – linear work
  8. Agility

 

Program Design 2: Sports Performance Program

  1. Warm up
  2. Mobility
  3. Flexibility
  4. Correctives
  5. Dynamic warm up
  6. Agility ladder
  7. Plyometrics and Core – lateral work
  8. Speed – linear work

 

Program Design 3: Linear Program

  1. Warm up
  2. Mobility
  3. Flexibility
  4. Correctives
  5. Dynamic warm up
  6. Agility ladder
  7. Power – Olympic lifting or multi-joint lifts. Reps and percentages based on overall program goals.
  8. Core lifts – Squat, deadlift, bench or any multi-joint lifts.
  9. Auxiliary Lifts – Small muscles or single-joint movements.
  10. Conditioning

 

Program Design 4: Nonlinear

  1. Warm up
  2. Mobility
  3. Flexibility
  4. Correctives
  5. Dynamic warm up
  6. Agility ladder
  7. Power – Olympic or multi-joint lifts. Percentage-based, high-percentage lifts first.
  8. Core lifts – Squat, deadlift, bench, other multi-joint lifts. Percentage based, anywhere from 60-85%.
  9. Auxiliary Lifts – Small muscle, single-joint; low percentages, generally 40-65%.

 

Program Design 5: Complete Sports Performance

  1. Warm up
  2. Mobility
  3. Flexibility
  4. Correctives
  5. Dynamic warm up
  6. Agility ladder
  7. Plyometric – Linear or lateral
  8. Speed or agility
  9. Power – Multi-joint lifts at 75-95%
  10. Strength – Core lifts at 65-90%
  11. Auxiliary lifts – Small muscle, single-joint lifts at 45-70%

 

Proper Sequences for Maximum Training Effects

There is much flexibility in these program design layouts. When incorporating speed and jump training, remember that available power and CNS state is crucial for technique acquisition. Percentages give a great base or expectation of each training day, and an be used to create a program which 6-12 months in length.

 

 

When designing programs that involve all facets of sports performance, sequencing becomes a vital component. Proper sequencing as stated above will allow you to achieve success in all facets, while remaining injury-free. Everyone wants to be faster, stronger, and in shape, but most importantly on the field, ready to compete. Smart sequencing will help make sure you get all of those benefits from your program.

 

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