Anthony Donskov is the founder of DSC where he serves as the Director of Sport Performance. Donskov holds a Masters Degree in Exercise Science & is the author of Physical Preparation for Ice Hockey.
Planned Randomness: Fred Flintstone Programming
Program design is a nearly extinct art form based on sound principals and components. It is backed by current science and practical application. It takes years to master through education, mentorship and deliberate practice. A well-educated trainer/coach can defend each and every exercise in their program and explain why it is applicable to their training population(s). One size does not fit all! Weight loss clients train differently than elite athletes. Program design is a GPS system; it guides us through the obstacles taking our clients step by step to their final destinations.
Unfortunately in most mainstream gyms today, program design is DEAD. We don’t use GPS systems, instead we’re living in the Stone Age, sitting shotgun while Fred Flintstone is driving the car with his feet. Planned randomness is ruining our craft. Throwing in high volume random exercises for the sake of a “killer” workout is like driving a car with a blindfold on. Where the hell are you going and will you get there in one piece? We live in a quick fix society with lazy people; the magic pill formula doesn’t work when it comes to designing programs! The overnight trainer who got his education in a weekend, to the “fly by the seat of your pants” trainer who makes up workouts up as he goes along, to the internet guru that posts the “workout of the day” need to make sure that what they design (or lack of design) doesn’t set our profession back another ten years. Below are the five intangibles of learning the art of program design. It’s a process, not a quick fix!
1.) Learn from the Best: Want to be a good football coach? Read about Bill Belichick or attend his lectures. Want to be a good track coach? Study the system of Charlie Francis. Want to write beautiful music? Study Mozart. NONE of these individuals were instant successes. They learned from mentors and coaches that came before them. They created their own GPS systems, but it took them many, many years to accomplish this feat.
2.) Education: Exercise science is ever changing. If you are not staying abreast with the latest research, trends and information, you are riding shotgun with Fred Flintstone! Education is NOT “The Biggest Loser” or “Celebrity Fit Club!” Read, and watch DVD’s for an hour each day!
3.) Ask Questions: Ask questions. Question everything. It’s not about being a pessimist; it’s about learning why things are done a certain way. It’s about finding answers that make sense and using this information in designing effective protocol.
4.) Shadow/Volunteer: We used to have “shadow” days in high school. A day dedicated to following industry professionals around and watching them perform their craft. Travel to a local University or respected gym. Watch coaches’ work. Ask them about their systems, their exercise design. Take notes.
5.) Application: Apply the information that you gather. It takes years to master effective program design, to effectively write your own programs. Use recipes from the best. Mozart didn’t start writing symphonies until he learned music, Belichick didn’t start winning championships until he put in years of watching tape. In many cases these experts learned using the methodology of others. They applied this knowledge and refined it, until they had the confidence to produce their own systems.
Planned randomness is Fred Flintstone programming. It’s outdated, unfounded, and dangerous. It’s also plaguing our profession and setting us back to the Stone Age. It’s our jobs as industry professionals to reverse this trend, to repopulate a nearly extinct art form. The solution is simple, take time to master your craft and refine your GPS systems. Create a solid road map for your clients based on science and application from your mentors and personal experience. Our society does not conform to this standard because we want the quick fix. If we continue this trend, we will all be sitting shotgun while Fred Flintstone is driving the car with his feet.