Jan 24, 2002

What is a Productive and Efficient Program?

January 24 "A person needs at intervals to separate from family and companions and go to new places. One must go without familiars in order to be open to influences, to change." - Katharine Butler Hathaway

StrongerAthletes.com would like for coaches to think about their program and ask the question, “Why”? Why do you do the program you do? Why does your program have certain exercises and not others? We would like all athletes to be on a program that is safe, efficient, and productive. This article will address how
productive and efficient your program is.

We provide a very productive and efficient program that takes each individual athlete into account. All coaches have a goal to help athletes get stronger, bigger, and more powerful and explosive. To make a program productive and efficient, the coach must require the athlete to train just enough to meet his or her goal to get stronger.

Compare 2 athletes on 2 different programs:

  • Program #1- The athlete trains 4 days per week for 60-90 minutes.

  • Program #2 –The athlete trains 2 times per week for 30-40 minutes.

Both athletes make the same gains. That makes program # 2 more efficient.

Coaches should not be leery about having their athletes train 2 times per week. Strength training is not a contest to see how long an athlete can train or how many days per week they train. The important outcome is that the athlete makes gains. It must be understood that an important job for the coach is to adjust the program to fit a particular athlete’s level. This may require an athlete to train 3 days per week, 2 days per week, or 3 days every two weeks.

For example, high school freshman should not be on the same program as a Senior that has been lifting for 2-3 years. One of them will suffer in gains.

There are 3 phases to an athletes’ strength development:

  • Phase # 1- This is the stimulation phase. It is necessary for the athlete to perform exercises to muscular failure in order to trigger the strength and growth mechanism. Once strength and growth are triggered through proper stimulation, it cannot be triggered anymore for that training session.

  • Phase # 2- This is the Recovery phase. Recovery is necessary after stimulation has occurred. Recovery should be as short as possible. In order to keep the recovery short, the athlete must train with the least amount of sets possible preferably one set per exercise after the athlete learns to train intensely and is at the appropriate level. This will make the program more efficient.

  • Phase # 3- This is the growth phase. This phase will begin after the recovery phase is complete. Growth and strength will occur at the same time. On a proper set/rep scheme, a larger muscle is a stronger muscle. It is important to keep the growth phase as long as possible. In order to do this an athlete should train each body part less often. Strength and growth will follow recovery if during the training session you progressed in strength, either by performing more reps in an exercise than the previous workout or by lifting more weight in an exercise than the previous time you performed a set of that particular exercise. See Progression.

StrongerAthletes.com maintains that an athlete should have more days off than training days. This will ensure a longer growth phase. If an athlete trains again before the recovery phase ends, it will put them back into recovery again and if this repeats many times, the strength and growth phase will never occur and the athlete will be in an overtrained state that could take time to get out of.

Productive training means doing enough to get all 3 phases working properly. Efficient training will occur by spending less time training. Coaches need to take all these phases into account for each athlete. Each athlete will eventually be on his or her own individual program. This takes work but is well worth it.
Richardson, Burton “Heavy Duty Changes”.

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