Since my previous article on the programming flow chart generated such interest in simplicity, I thought it timely to discuss another aspect of programming in relation to body composition using a similar simplistic flow chart.

One caveat I would start with is that I am not a nutritionist and probably would be best summed up by one of the fantastic elitefts t-shirt designs: Not Shredded, Not Concerned. But I do believe this is a good approach to follow in determining what a player needs to do and not what they want to do.

body composition action chart

As you can see from the flow chart, there are three components to act upon depending on the magnitude of the change and in what direction, positive or negative, this change occurs. For each of these scenarios there is then a programming action to put into place to achieve a desired goal from the training process. I am not concerned with which method you will conduct body composition testing but ideally it will be one of the major methods such DEXA scanning, Bod Pod or skinfolds.

As a strength and conditioning coach, my main aim of course is performance. After all, I may be process driven but I am definitely outcome judged. Allied with this role is to minimize the risk of an injury taking place or to minimize the severity of an injury should one occur, but for this article I will be discussing aspects of performance rather than injury minimization strategies.

If you have been a reader of this column for a while you will be very familiar with my training strategies and that I am a firm believer in the use of high intensity training methods to elicit a significant Excess Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) to ensure the improvement of body composition whilst maintaining and improving the lean body mass (LBM) of the player.

If the action calls for an increase in weight training volume then the use of the many varying hypertrophy protocols that you have at your disposal will work well for this action. An increase in muscle mass will increase the utilization of calories at all times throughout the day and assist in improving LBM significantly. An example of a three week block I have used is as follows: 

Hypertrophy Week Plan

Screenshot 2016-06-27 15.39.59

Alternatively, here is a selection of splits that I have used over time with different players and teams: 

Hypertrophy Options 

Five-Day Split Program Screenshot 2016-06-27 15.40.13 

Four-Day Split Program Screenshot 2016-06-27 15.46.41 

Three-Day Split Program – Double Day OptionScreenshot 2016-06-27 15.40.40 

If the programming action calls for an increase in training volume in regards to EPOC related activities then I will most often use a selection of gym-based circuits and/or off feet conditioning on the range of ergometers that you would have available to you: Concept II Rowing Ergometers, Versa Climber, The Grappler Continuous Rope Pull Machine, Watt Bike, Concept II Ski Ergometer, Step Mill, etc. Since players do so much running in the actual training environment and post training, I would not use running in this category. To highlight this training I have included the actual plan I put in place with my team for a short block of training.

Fitness and/or Size Weight Training Mini Block

May 12 (Lower Body) Thursday


1. Beastly Circuit:

  • Dead Lift
  • Power Clean from Hang
  • Front Squat
  • Push Press
  • Bent Over Row
  • Romanian Dead Lift

2. 2km watt bike (six times through)

3. Squat 5 x 5


Front Squat/Back Squat combo 6 x 6/6

Bulgarian Sprinter’s Squat superset with Single Leg RDL (foot against wall) 5 x 10/10

Suitcase DL 5 x 10/10

May 13 (Upper Body) Friday

Primary Push superset with Pull Upper Body 2 x (6/5/4) @ (75%, 80%, 85%)

DB or Machine Push superset with Pull Upper Body 5 x 8–12 to failure each set


KB Circuit, 8 x 8:

  • MMA Floor Press
  • Renegade Row
  • See Saw Shoulder Press
  • Alternate Upright Row


Triceps Death superset with Matrix Barbell Curl, 4 sets x 5/5/5/5

May 16 (Lower Body) Monday


Steel Log GPP Circuit, 5 x 8:

  • Overhead Press
  • Front Squat
  • Barbell Row
  • Romanian Deadlift
  • Clean & Push Press

Deadlift 5 x 5


Split Power Snatch + Step Up 4 x 4/4,

Deadlift 5 x 10,

½ Turkish Get ups 6 x 6/6

May 17 (Upper Body) Tuesday

Fitness and Size

Triple Angle Drop DB Bench Press (45/30/15 degrees incline bench)  x 5/5/5

superset with

Mechanical Advantage Chin Up Complex (Pronated wide grip/neutral grip/supinated grip shoulder width) 5 sets x 5/5/5

1.5 Trap Bar Shoulder Press 5 x 10 superset with Pendlay Row with Football Bar 5 x 10

DB Lateral Raise superset with Plate Front Raise superset with Cable Bentover Raise 4 x 12–15

Barbell Rollouts 5 x 10

May 19 (Lower Body) Thursday


Progressive Circuit

Squat 5 x 5

Screenshot 2016-06-27 15.40.57


Front Squat/Back Squat Combo 6 x 5/5

Walking Lunge superset with Split Stance RDL 5 x 10/10

Zercher Lift 5x 5

May 20 (Upper Body) Friday

Primary Push superset with Pull Upper Body 2 x (5/4/3) @ (80%, 85%, 90%)

DB or Machine Push superset with Pull Upper Body 5 x 8–12 to failure each set


BW Circuit:

  • Hindu Push Ups  superset with Chin Ups x 50 each
  • Push Ups  superset with  Fat Man’s Chins TRX & Swiss Ball x 100


Triceps Death  superset with Matrix Barbell Curl 4 sets x 5/5/5/5

May 23 (Lower Body) Monday


Strongman Circuit, 5 times:

  • Muscle snatch x 5 + Walk 25m
  • Yoke Walk 25m
  • Steel Log Clean & Press x 5
  • Farmers Walk 25m
  • Large Wrestle Dummy Carry 25m
  • Tyre Flip device x 5
  • 500m Row

Body Weight GPP Circuit, 10 Per Side, Non-Stop:

  • Grasshoppers
  • Hindu Push Ups
  • Knees to Feet Jumps
  • Scorpions
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Alternate Lunges
  • Rock & Rolls
  • Push Ups
  • Prisoner Jump Squats
  • Sprinter’s Sit Ups


Front Squat/Back Squat Combo 6 x 4/4

Bulgarian Sprinter’s Squat superset with Single Leg RDL (foot against wall( 5 x 10/10, Windmill 5 x 10/10

May 24 (Upper Body) Tuesday

Primary Push superset with Pull Upper Body 2 x (4/3/2) @ (85%, 90%, 95%)

DB or Machine Push superset with Pull Upper Body 5 x 8–12 to failure each set

Fitness — Borreginne Super Circuit


Low incline DB Bench Press superset with DB Row 5 x 6-10 (concentric failure in this range)

Cuban press superset with Overhead Shrugs 3 x 12–15

Pause Hammer Curls 4 x 8 superset with DB Tate Presses 4 x 8

If a player requires additional EPOC training via ergometers then we would choose from the selection below:

Watt Bike Options

Sourced from a variety of sites and programs over time, can not give credit to all the people who have generated them initially.

WB 1

15 kilometres: 15 x 1,000 meters as fast as you can, one on, one off recovery

WB 2

5,4,3,2,1: 5,000 - 4,000 – 3,000 – 2,000 – 1,000 with one on, one off recovery

WB 3

One on, one off: Ride as far as possible in one minute then repeat after one minutes rest x 15

WB 4

Speed: 200m with 90 seconds recovery x 5, 100m with 60 seconds recovery x 10, 50m with 30 seconds recovery x 15

WB 5

The Beast: 6 sprints x 6 times through, 10 seconds sprint, 10 seconds active rest, 20 seconds sprint 20 seconds active rest, 30 seconds sprint 30 seconds active rest, 40 seconds sprint 40 seconds active rest, 50 seconds sprint 50 seconds active rest, 60 seconds sprint 60 seconds active rest x 6

WB 6

Lactate Heaven: 45 seconds as fast as you can, goal is 700+ meters, rest 3 minutes 15 seconds, repeat x 8

WB 7

30/30/30: complete 30 seconds on air brake 10 then 30 seconds on air brake 1 x 30

WB 8

1500 to 100: Start at 1500 meters as fast as you can, drop off 100 meters with each successive effort resting only one minute between efforts

WB 9

"OMG has he gone crazier": 45 seconds as fast as you can then into Beastly Circuit on a 4 minute clock x 6 reps. Or instead of Beastly Circuit do 4 sets of DB upper body push/pull super set to failure, use DB’s that you can get between 8–12 reps till concentric failure, adjust the DB’s when you fail to get 8 reps or alternate between the Beast circuit and the DB super sets for 8 total watt bike efforts.

Rowing Sessions 

Row 1

5 minute warm up at 2:00 pace then 45 seconds work, 15 seconds rest at <1:45 pace x 20, 5 minutes at 2:00 pace.

Row 2

5 minute warm up at 2:00 pace then, 5 x 15 seconds work, 45 seconds rest at < 1:30 pace, 5 x 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest at < 1:35 pace, 5 x 45 seconds work, 15 seconds rest at < 1:40 pace and finally 5 x 60 seconds work, 30 secs rest at <1:45 pace, 5 minutes at 2:00 pace.

Row 3    

5 minute warm up at 2:00 pace then, 5 x 30/15 at <1:35 pace, 5 x 60/30 at <1:45 pace, 5 x 30/15 at < 1:35 pace, 5 x 60/30 at < 1:45 pace, 5 minutes at 2:00 pace.

Row 4    

5 minute warm up at 2:00 pace then, 5 x 15/15 at <1:25 pace, 5 x 30/15 at <1:30 pace, 5 x 45/15 at 1:40 pace, 5 x 60/30 at <1:45 pace, 5 minutes at 2:00 pace.

Row 5

Rowing Golf Game: Row as far as possible for 1 minute, then rest for 1 minute. Complete 18 reps (18 x holes), record your score as you go using the table below (sourced from internet, website unsure)

Screenshot 2016-06-27 15.50.11

Row 6

10 x 200m rowing sprints, with 2 minutes between sprints.

Row 7

3 x 8 of 10 second sprint/10 seconds easy/10 second sprint at maximum pace. 1 minute recovery between reps, 3 minute recovery between sets. Target pace: 1:25–28/500m for sprint; sub 1:50s/500m for cruise.

Row 8

500m intervals, 2 minute recovery between reps, do as many reps as possible and record them. Target pace: Sub 1:40/500m.

Row 9

6 x 500m intervals, 2 minute rest between reps followed by 3 x 250m intervals, 1 minute rest between reps. Target pace: Sub 1:35/500m for all six 500m intervals; sub 0:55/250m for all three 250m intervals; maintain a drop off of less than 10 seconds for both 500m and 250m.

Row 10

Interval sessions of 50m up to 500m, increasing 50m per interval, and back down. Max pace for all reps, 1:1 work to rest ratio.

Circuit Options

C 1

Beastly Circuit (6)

  • Dead Lift
  • Power Clean from Hang
  • Front Squat
  • Push Press
  • Bent Over Row
  • Romanian Dead Lift

3 minutes Cardio

C  2

Otago Circuit (5) (Credit to Tony Brown)

  • Row 300m in <1 minute
  • 10 Full Burpees
  • 10 x 36kg 2-Arm Swing with KB
  • 4 x 15 meters shuttle run
  • 10kg Med Ball slam to ground 10 each side

C 3

BW/KB Circuit (3)

  • 10 Mountain Climbers
  • 10 KB Floor Press
  • 10 No Momentum Sit Ups
  • 10 KB Renegade Row
  • 10 Grasshoppers
  • 10 KB See Saw Shoulder Press
  • 10 Jumping Squat Lunges
  • 10 KB Alternate Upright Row
  • 10 Rock & Rolls
  • 10 KB Alternating Snatches

C 4

Super Circuit

  • Pull
  • Push
  • Squat
  • Core,
  • 4–6 times through, 10 reps on all exercises
  • (Credit to Luke Borreginne)

Group 1

Upright Row(40)/Close Grip Bench Press(50)/Squat Jump(40)/MB Russian Twist

1 x Springbok Shuttle is shuttle run with lines at five meters intervals from 0 to 25 meters, players start at 0 and run out to 5 meters and return to 0 continuing in this format for 30 seconds and calculating how far they have run. The full shuttle is 150 meters (30 seconds).

Group 2

Hang Cleans(50)/Shoulder Press(40)/Step Ups(50)/Hanging Knees to Chest

1 x Malcolm Drill — Chest to ground on the half way line, at a signal get up and back pedal 10 meters drop to the ground get up and sprint 20 meters forward and drop to the ground then get up and back pedal to the start position. The best players will get slightly over two complete reps of this drill (30 seconds).

Group 3

Bent Row(60)/Incline Bench(60)/Over Head Squat(20)/Sprinter’s Sit Ups

Half Gasser — Start lying on the ground on the sideline, chest on ground. At a signal get up and sprint to the far side touchline, turn and drop down on the line, get up and sprint back to the start position without dropping to the ground at the finish. Best players will do this in around 23 seconds, distance is 140 meters (30 seconds).