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Understanding the Basics of a Training Program: Part 1

posted on June 17, 2020

Designing or following a training program can be challenging in its own ways. Different words, numbers, and exercises, all have a specific purpose and need to be incorporated correctly. Today we are going to go over a few of the major aspects of a training program that will benefit anyone, regardless of experience level or goals.


Main movement:


The main movement is the first movement of the day after completing your warm up. This will consist of a squatting, pressing, or deadlifting variation, and sometimes can also consist of a power variation including the snatch or clean. This movement is the priority of the day and will dictate the rest of the training session. It is important to understand that the main movement should demand a great deal of focus and dedication. These are the movements that are the foundation of your training program, and require the most attention to detail.


Assistance movements:


Assistance work is directly intended to “assist” the main movement. If you have a very noticeable weakness that is showing through your main movement, then your assistance exercises should be selected accordingly in order to correct that weakness. Assistance exercises are typically in the form of variations of the main movement, and should be performed once the main movement is finished. For example, If your main movement is a barbell back squat, but you noticed that you were getting loose when coming out of the bottom, then your assistance movement could be something along the lines of a paused squat, with an emphasis on keeping full body tension and positioning.




Accessory exercises should come later in the workout and are intended to build the areas that are used to perform the main movement of the training session. They usually come in the form of isolation or “bodybuilding” exercises such as dumbbell work, machines, and bodyweight variations. Think of these as your shield of armor. They are intended to “bulletproof” your body by building muscle and staying injury free by developing overall balance.




Volume is the measurement of the total amount of work performed. It is typically calculated in the form of sets x reps x weight. Tracking volume can be very important in the overall effectiveness of your training program. If your total volume is too high, then you might have a hard time recovering from session to session, or at worst, it could lead to injury. If your total volume is not enough, then you will have trouble getting the stimulus needed to progress. Keep an eye on your volume, see how you feel and how you respond, and make adjustments as needed.




Generally, training intensity refers to the amount of effort that you are putting into whatever movement or exercise that you are performing. When performing a barbell movement, intensity refers to the amount of weight or “load” that is being lifted. We often see this written in the form of weight, or in a percentage of a one rep max. Like volume, intensity is also very important to keep an eye on. The point is to produce the necessary amount of stimulus in order to acquire progression. Too much intensity too often and you risk over-training and injury. Too little and you risk a lack of progress.


Stay tuned for Part 2 as we dive in a little deeper.




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