If it is worth anything to you or anyone, it is worth signing your name to it.

In a previous article I discussed preferential biases. As you mature as a trainer, you keep the best of what you know and it forms the basis for your philosophy of training. But a good coach does not allow his or her individual training preferences to adversely influence the training programs for those in performance sports.

The best example of a programming preferential bias that I have ever seen was when I attended a conference and listened to a speaker from a prestigious university where the basketball program was first class. The speaker outlined the program and I was amazed to see that it covered every angle of the chest as if it were for a world class bodybuilder. Even then, as a very young strength and conditioning coach, I was taken aback as to how this would translate into basketball performance. Then I saw the speaker by the pool a day or two later, and realized that the basketball players were simply doing what he was doing himself — massive defined pecs. So the players were playing good basketball in spite of what the program was focussing on in the weight room.

RECENT: Big Is a Byproduct of Strong

Programming signatures mature with training age, as your personal signature changes over time so does make up of your programs, but they are always recognizable by the content and style that you put into each program you write. For example, I would think you could sum my programming signature up as:

  • No two exercises for the same movement category would use the same type of implement to train that movement.
  • Each exercise in a movement category will be programmed using a different loading pattern, which is based on the priority of the exercise in the training sequence.
  • Loaded core work will dominate over unloaded core movements.

Whilst my assistant at Edinburgh Rugby, Marc Keys, when asked the question of defining his programming signature gave this:

  • Traditional exercises dominate over all others.
  • Three-week loading patterns.
  • Cyclical programming progression.
  • Assistance work is always in hypertrophy loading zones.

Call it a philosophy or a programming signature but as the old saying goes, “If you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything”

As a rugby strength coach I employ a conjugate method of strength training specifically because the game of rugby is a hybrid sport where, speed/strength, strength/speed, maximal strength, position specific hypertrophy, isometric and yielding strength as well as strength endurance are all essential in the development of the player for the modern game. My previous programming signature was built around the Rule of 24, which was originally as set out in the table below. This was my go-to set-up for most programming I did, but I feel with time a more rounded approach that I now employ has been far more positive in regards performance improvement outcomes.

Screenshot 2016-02-09 14.44.16

I would now still utilise the Rule of 24 is programming but would vary it depending on what I was trying to achieve, based around the work of Louie Simmons I would look at a speed/power day as being:

Screenshot 2016-02-09 14.44.32

Whilst if I was training for strength as the primary goal the zones would be:

Screenshot 2016-02-09 14.48.59

Finally if the purpose of the training was more hypertrophy focused I would use the following ranges:

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But I would most probably look at increasing the overall volume in this type of training by increasing the number of exercises and frequently super setting antagonistic movements.

The program below is the way I would have used to program using the Rule24. It is an off-season plan for use on a five-session a week plan — of course any combinations could be used. The exercise selection is based on the integration of Olympic, powerlifting, strongman and traditional weight training movements. The workout time is approximately 45 minutes; get in, train hard, get out, recover, and gain the benefits.

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Exercise One each day is either 12 x 2 or 8 x 3. Exercise Two each day is either 6 x 4 or 4 x 6. Exercise Three each day is either 4 x 6 or 3 x 8. Exercise Four each day is either 3 x 8 or 2 x 12.

It is often very enlightening to see how your programming changes over time and what influences you at various stages of your career, and more importantly what stands the test of time and becomes your individual programming signature.