I got a lot of email today…and it was all good

I thought I’d answer one of the questions here.

The essence of the first email was regarding how I deal with large numbers of athletes from a programming perspective?

I thought I would explain a bit about how I work. This week there are 5 sessions on the board…actually that’s a lie there are actually I think about 12 sessions on the board but we’ll get to that later on.

Now I am going to call these sessions 1 through 5 but the numbers don’t really matter…once again…we’ll get to that later on.

Session 1
Warm Up – 5 to 10 minutes…this varies from athlete to athlete…bike, rower, treadmill, run outside…maybe a little kettlebell circuit just to get the engine warmed up.
Hip Mobility Work – I think I’ve done this to death…they pick 2 or 3 of the multitude that we normally do and they do them. Now…listen carefully…this is actually some of the most important stuff…people tend to skip this stuff…not my people but normal people…doing a set of 12 reps on the bench press is not the only warm up you need to do before you do 5 reps on the bench.
Squat Variation – 2 warm up sets of 8 reps and 5 sets of 3-5 reps…if they get 5 reps they go up…as long as they get 3 reps I’m happy. Actually if they only get 3 I am happier. I hope everyone is following so far…this is 1 of their 2 BIG exercises of the day.
Leg Curls – 4 sets of 10 reps…this is supplementary work.
Bridging – 5 sets of 60 seconds with 60 seconds between sets…now if they struggle to bridge for 60 seconds they just break the bridge then get back up and repeat for 60 seconds…more experienced athletes will weight these bridges with anything up to 20kgs.
Shoulder Mobility Work – Again any 2 of the many drills that we do.
Pull Ups – 2 sets of 8 reps and 5 sets of 3-5 reps…now this is where the bands come in…if you can do 20 reps then you just do the 2 sets of 8 reps then throw on the X-vest and load it up with whatever you need to make your work sets a 5RM…if you are varying degrees of fat or incapable then you use the whatever band you need to also make your work sets 5RM. This is number 2 of there 2 big exercises of the day.
Elevated Push Ups – 4 sets of 10 reps done on the push ups handles…again this is just a supplementary exercise.
Hi-Lo Woodchoppers – 3 sets of 12 reps on each side.
DB Lateral Raises – 4 sets of 10 reps.
Tricep Extensions – 4 sets of 10 reps.

Session 2
Warm Up – 5 to 10 minutes…as above.
Hip Mobility Work – As above in Session 1.
Trap Bar Deadlift – 2 warm up sets of 8 reps and 5 sets of 3-5 reps…once again…as above…can you see the pattern emerging here?
Leg Extensions – 4 sets of 10 reps…this is supplementary work.
Side Bridging – 3 sets of 45 seconds with 15 seconds between sides….we weight these as well as soon as athletes are able.
Shoulder Mobility Work – As above.
Bench Press – 2 sets of 8 reps and 5 sets of 3-5 reps.
Inverted Rows – 4 sets of 10 reps.
Ab Pulldowns – 3 sets of 20 reps.
DB Shoulder Press – 4 sets of 10 reps.
Bicep Curls – 4 sets of 10 reps.

So as you can see the template is the same on these 2 strength days…Session 1 is a front of legs and back day…I hope my language isn’t too technical for anyone? Session 2 is a back of legs and chest day.

I am happy to explain it more thoroughly if needs be but I’m thinking that you get the picture…they are just ‘opposing’ sessions really.

Session 3
Warm Up – 5 to 10 minutes…as usual.
Shoulder Mobility Work – The usual.
Incline DB Press – 2 sets of 12 reps and 5 sets of 10 reps.
Hi-Lo Cable Fly – 4 sets of 15 reps.
Lo-Hi Woodchoppers – 3 sets of 12 reps.
Shoulder Mobility Work – Different from what they did earlier.
Lat Pulldowns – 2 sets of 12 reps and 5 sets of 10 reps.
Chest Supported Rows – 4 sets of 15 reps.
Hanging Leg Raises – 3 sets of 12 reps.
1A Leg Press – 5 sets of 10 reps.
1B Back Extensions – 5 sets of 10 reps.
1C Natural Reverse Hypers – 5 sets of 10 reps.

This is a completely sub maximal day…you can call it whatever you like a hypertrophy day or a body building day…it’s a ‘get your pump on’ day.

Session 4
Warm Up – 5 to 10 minutes.
Mobility Work – 1 shoulder drill and 1 hip drill.
Rower – 5 sets of 500 with 60 second recovery between efforts.
15 minute work set of the following:
1A Step Ups – 5 a side
1B Lat Pulldowns – 10 reps.
1C DB Press – 10 reps.
Rower – 6 sets of 400 with 45 second recovery between efforts.
15 minute work set of the following:
2A Lunges – 5 a side.
2B Pull Ups – 2-5 reps depending on ability.
2C Push Ups – 10 – 15 reps depending on ability.
(Just so you know…if you do 2 pull ups then you do 10 push ups, 3 pull ups then 12 push ups, 5 pull ups then 15 push ups…if you do 4 pull ups…then you’re an idiot)
Rower – 8 sets of 300 with 30 second recovery between efforts.

Session 5
Warm Up – 5 to 10 minutes.
Mobility Work – 1 shoulder drill and 1 hip drill.
Bike – 5mins @ Level 5 then 10 sets of (30/30’s)
15 minute work set of the following:
1A Box Jumps – 10 reps
1B Push Ups – 10 reps.
1C DB Rows – 10 reps.
Treadmill – 2km @ 1% as fast as possible
15 minute work set of the following:
2A KB Squat – 5 reps.
2B KB Rows – 5 reps.
2C KB Press – 5 reps.
Bike – 5mins @ Level 5 then 10 sets of (30/30’s)

So like I said…these are the 5 sessions on the board. These 5 sessions change every week but the template remains pretty much the same….2 strength sessions, 2 conditioning sessions and the 1 body building session.

So…the next bit regards how it works…well that depends…if you’re fat and you are coming 2 times a week then you are doing 2 conditioning sessions…if you come 3 times then you are doing those plus the body building session.

I have athletes that train 5 times a week…Session 1 on Monday, Session 4 on Tuesday, Session 3 on Wednesday, Session 5 on Thursday and Session 2 on Friday…as an example.

Athletes who are trying to get stronger and or bigger…coming 2 times a week do the 2 strength sessions…3 times a week then it’s those 2 plus the body building session.

So there’s a weeks training and at the moment there are probably 70+ athletes doing some combination of these sessions to suit their goals.

So hopefully that’s that question answered?

Kelvin also ‘outed’ himself as a fan
Hi Will,

Long time reader, love the blog. No idea why though.

How do you handle rugby players training who need to add size while maintaining or improving conditioning levels? Is it as simple as pounding down food, or do you manipulate training as well?

Kelvin G
Glad you read the blog, glad you like it and completely understand why you don’t understand why. In short we do ‘a lot’ of one and ‘a little’ of the other. At the moment everyone is focused on either adding mass or adding strength or both…they are doing ‘a little’ conditioning…just tipping away. Once pre season starts next month it will be more like half and half then during the season the goal is to try to hold onto as much mass and strength as possible while prioritising getting fitter and faster.

Does that answer you question? I am not ducking and diving…if you ask general questions I’ll give you general answers but feel free to get as specific as you like. I’m happy to tell you anything and everything you want to know. As I’ve said before…all I’m really giving away is recipes…if you can’t cook it doesn’t help you at all.

So ask away?

More questions
When benching to achieve a high 1rm would you advise longer limbed athletes to keep the elbows under the bar and hence touch below the sternum or would you rather see them touch higher on the chest but let the bar be closer to the head than the elbows (this elbows reference is from a side on view).

Lower rather than higher. I don’t have an ‘absolute’ technique that I drill into athletes…I am a strong tricep and lat bencher…Flaps is a tricep and shoulder bencher…Jonny is about half way between the two of us…limb length matters, flexibility and mobility matters both around the shoulders and through the back and hips…your genetic prediposition matters…I tend to watch people do exercises the way they ‘normally’ do it…because they will do it in a way that is as biomechanically effective for them as they can…then I tweak it…there is no ‘best’ way….no perfect squat form or bench form or snatch form…that is not to say that anything will work just that you have to take into account that everyone is different and adjust or allow for that.

2nd with johnnys deadlift what causes him to lift like that. Is it his natural form or a muscle weakness or both or neither (just trying to cover my bases here)

He’s fat, lazy and just plain Mongo strong…he was having his knee assessed today with the physio…it basically is not strong enough for him to run on it yet…imagine what he’ll do when we finish his rehab and he really gets stuck in.

Also could you give some general pointers that you will look at applying to johnny over the next few weeks to help bring this dead up?

Yes, I could. Snatch Grip Deadlifts and a shit load of mobility work and stretching.

Informed Performance
As you can imagine there is a lot going on that I am not ‘blogging’ about…I am really looking forward to the next few months…I think it is going to be brilliant for everyone involved both as staff and members or as athletes visiting the facility.

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13 thoughts on “I got a lot of email today…and it was all good

  1. Once again, your post has managed to get me aroused πŸ˜‰

    Love the structure … I suppose that’s just standard practice, but I hadn’t seen it before … I love how you can deal with so many peeps (with different priorities) at the same time! Genius πŸ™‚

    Thanks!

  2. Yeah. All of them. If I had more time I would do it now. We’re working on a few things at the moment that will enable all the programs to be ‘published’ and viewed by whoever is interested.

  3. Thanks for answering the question will, I appreciate it was general. Do you make any specific changes to gym work once the conditioning begins to ramp up, to allow trainees to continue to gain?

    • Yes, I do and how specific they are depends on the athlete. They aren’t general changes…some guys need to try harder than others hang onto mass some just need to improve their power and or strength and others are right where I want them and we’re just looking to maintain the status quo.

  4. Your posting faster than i can keep up but thanks for answering my questions and ill throw a few more at you

    1) so with the main heavy exercises is there any form of progression to it or do the athletes just look at going as hard as possible all the time? I think you could just work it by changing the starting weight so 1st session start 100kg and jump for 5 sets of 5 up to 120kg and last session start 125 kg and go 5 5 4 3 2 up to 135kg, or maybe you just set a limit on the number of jumps. Maybe i am just wanking too much

    2) do you look at modifying these sessions or is it that the athletes either do these or you will just start from sctratch and make a new program

    3)if so could we see how you go about a small modification and a larger modification

    4) easy one here if an athlete is looking at more power muscle strength and trains 4 times a week do you double up a session or just not use that 4 th day
    Now on to my question to your answers to my questions

    5) The answer to the bench question makes total sense. Where it came from was my need to change technique to meet the standards of the powerlifting comp i will be entering. The ipf requires a touch on the sternum but my natural style is way lower than this and hence illegal. I am wondering if any of your footballers will have to deal with this and how you would/will go about this.

    6)more just a bonus question then anything but will this mobility be anything different from what has been posted earlier or do you have something special in mind

    thanks as always for your answers although they seem to lead to just more questions

    • Adrienl said
      Your posting faster than i can keep up but thanks for answering my questions and ill throw a few more at you

      1) so with the main heavy exercises is there any form of progression to it or do the athletes just look at going as hard as possible all the time? I think you could just work it by changing the starting weight so 1st session start 100kg and jump for 5 sets of 5 up to 120kg and last session start 125 kg and go 5 5 4 3 2 up to 135kg, or maybe you just set a limit on the number of jumps. Maybe i am just wanking too much.
      I will make a post about this during the week…if I don’t…remind me.

      2) do you look at modifying these sessions or is it that the athletes either do these or you will just start from sctratch and make a new program.
      Not sure I understand the question?

      3)if so could we see how you go about a small modification and a larger modification.
      I don’t get this one either.

      4) easy one here if an athlete is looking at more power muscle strength and trains 4 times a week do you double up a session or just not use that 4 th day
      You’re on a fucking roll here…I’ll take a stab at what you are talking about…I think you are assuming that I would have an athlete do the two strength sessions then the bodybuilding session…which would leave a day free…well if they were training 4 times a week they would do the 2 strength sessions twice.

      Now on to my question to your answers to my questions

      5) The answer to the bench question makes total sense. Where it came from was my need to change technique to meet the standards of the powerlifting comp i will be entering. The ipf requires a touch on the sternum but my natural style is way lower than this and hence illegal. I am wondering if any of your footballers will have to deal with this and how you would/will go about this.
      We’ll find out soon enough…I will actually get a judge into the new gym to go through this with everyone.

      6)more just a bonus question then anything but will this mobility be anything different from what has been posted earlier or do you have something special in mind.
      The mobility stuff is all the stuff you have seen here and more. One of the many things I have been working on is ‘collecting’ all of the drills we use to put into an index that we’ll chuck up on the new Informed Performance website shortly.

      thanks as always for your answers although they seem to lead to just more questions
      No problem…try to make them understandable and you’ll get better answers.

      • yeah sorry about that middle bit brain hadn’t woken up form a late night

        What i was trying to get at with question 2 was that if you have seventy athletes performing these 5 sessions in a variety of combos do you also look at modifications within the sessions for the individual athlete. Eg someone is very imbalanced and hence you drop or add a new exercise.

        question 3 was then asking for an example of these modifications (if they occur)
        question 4 you hit on the head

        and question 1 is starting to be answered as i see more of these weekly setups, so they are a big help.

        beyond that the other answeres were nice and concise so thank for your time.

  5. Hey Will,

    Quite interesting, do you stay regimented with the exercise choices as your supplemental exercises or do you incorporate step ups/ lunges and other single leg work in to the plan. Is there a specific reason for using machine based exercises compared to multi-joint movements?

    • Ian Mellis said
      Quite interesting, do you stay regimented with the exercise choices as your supplemental exercises or do you incorporate step ups/ lunges and other single leg work in to the plan.
      I don’t stay regimented. I will put up this weeks program and you’ll see the changes. As per usual I have absolutely no idea what it is that people find interesting reading the blog.

      Is there a specific reason for using machine based exercises compared to multi-joint movements?
      No.

  6. I’m still working through this …

    I got a few questions. Re the strength workouts …

    You’ve got 2 Big lifts per session followed by supplementary exercises … then at the end of the session you’ve got two other exercises … what are they there for (from a ‘structuring a workout’ perspective)?

    And is a supplementary exercise, an ‘isolation’ exercise that opposes the movement of the Big lift? If not, what is it for? (once again, from a ‘structuring a workout’ perspective)?

    Thanks πŸ™‚

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