Common Program Pitfalls
This week I’m looking at the idea of exercise programming from a coaches’ perspective for coaches and personal trainers. As a coach I have many friends that are CrossFit coaches, athletes in a range of sports, personal trainers, gym instructors and sport specific coaches and it’s great to catch up with each of them as it’s a chance for us to continue to learn from each other’s experiences and methods. It’s important to acknowledge that nobody ever knows everything and through knowledge we continue to grow in our profession and for our athletes.
This week I wanted to talk through some common pitfalls we as coaches fall into when programming for our athletes; firstly to share some of these issues with the other coaches in our community so they too can grow as a coach and secondly to give you, our valued athletes an insight into some of things we look at when designing the routines you perform day in and day out.
As a coach it is important to observe the trends in data being performed by your athletes; their progressions in skill and strength, their general enjoyment when performing exercise sessions and their drops and increases in motivation. Through observation ineffective programming can be adjusted and reassessed to get the most out of your athletes and clients. On the flip side, if a coach is ineffective in their ability to observe their athletes movements and progressions, programming can fall prey to common faults.
1. A lack of regular assessment to determine programming effectiveness. Quite simply, performance markers provide coaches with an understanding of whether their past programming was productive and provides great input into what needs to be programmed next. These markers can be fitness tests, WOD times or skill based tasks, anything that can be recorded and allow your athletes to record their progress.
2. Not programming variance correctly. This occurs when workouts are developed randomly or certain physical skills are biased over others such as training heavy all the time for 3-5 reps. Optimal workouts require intentional planning not merely reaching into a hat and pulling out a random WOD you found on the internet.
3. A lack of higher skill development. This occurs when certain movements are avoided in workouts or in warms ups and weaknesses are not addressed; things like only going for a run every single warm up instead of using a stick to develop task progression of Olympic lifts, or not utilising gymnastic movements to increase body awareness.
4. Excessive volume. This type of training is usually performed by coaches trying to emulate the routines performed by Crossfit games or other elite level athletes and is not a great representation of programming for a large portion of your athletic community. Multiple workouts, performing high intensity workouts every day and lifting super heavy every day is a sure fire way to provoke injury and or burn out in a very short period of time.
5. Misapplication of sport specific preparation. What this means is that as a Crossfit Coach, a personal trainer or gym instructor it is important to remember that our job is not to try and mimic the sport in the workouts that we develop. As a coach our job is to program the individuals physical attributes, sport practices and sport coaches will improve the specific skills needed on the field or during a match. Work with your athletes coaches not against them.
There are many factors and variables that go into optimising your community’s fitness, these include efficient coaching, proper us of high intensity, incorporating functional movements and including broad and modal domains. Program design is best guided by observing results and so if you feel you aren’t receiving the results you think you should be, it may be time to step back and reassess your training regime.
I hope this help you coaches out there that like to visit our little Rockstar community page, the better the coaches out there the better we as a society begin to move and react to physical challenges.