Designing a strength program for someone is a tricky thing: there are obviously a bunch of buckets we know we want to fill, but how we go about filling them up can be an imprecise process.
Many coaches or athletes think they have the perfect selection of exercises, reps, and sets figured out, but there are always tons of limiting factors that prevent that program from eliciting the desired response in the short or long term.
Part of the reason we leave a lot on the table when we write out these exercise programs is that we often don’t consider that each person comes into a workout with their own unique, ingrained perceptual-motor experiences.
This, in turn, affects how well they can take what’s on the paper or screen and turn that into safe, effective movement.
So instead of trying to build a foundation with each athlete you work with, why not renovate and expand the complicated human in front of you?
As Rob Gray says in his awesome book How We Learn to Move, “Coaching is not building a house from ground up. Success requires designing practice that builds on each performer’s foundation.”
The foundation is already there. Even if it’s a young athlete with minimal time spent moving in sport or in life, they still have some motor skills they developed that are embedded in their system.
They have learned a way to adapt to their surroundings and safely navigate the world around them. As such, there is no all-encompassing exercise that will work for every person you see in front of you.
An individual is going to react to an exercise in the unique way that they know how based on the constraints available. It becomes a tricky thing giving exercises and sets and reps to people, because we want to challenge people and break them out of their comfort zones of movement in order to build up their resiliency.
I want to offer variation from week to week in a program; I want to challenge a person’s built-in safety mechanism; I want to keep them safe; and I want to renovate and expand the foundation that they already have.
I can’t re-make what’s already there, but I can try and help offer new roads to explore in the landscape of a person’s movement quality.