A 5-minute guide to designing world-class training programs

March 26, 2019 Stefan Underwood

How often do you move well? You move every day, not only while working out but during all your waking hours. With a solid foundation of fundamental movement (step, lift, rotate, etc.), you can perform at a high level day after day despite intense demands.

Developing a solid foundation of movement won’t happen by accident. Movement is a skill that can be taught and improved. Over the years, EXOS has developed a progressive approach to training human movement.

While we can’t distill our entire movement philosophy into one brief article, we can share a light version of the framework we use to improve movement. This quick overview of EXOS’ approach to movement training is intended for fitness professionals or fitness enthusiasts looking to upgrade their own workout plans.

How EXOS designs movement training programs

Training programs that have an integrated foundation of mobility, stability, and efficient movement patterns provide a functional launching point for the development of fitness, movement efficiency, speed, strength, and total-body power.

Coaches and trainers at EXOS design every training program to optimize performance and reduce risk for injury. Improving functional movement and applying techniques and strategies to optimize positions, patterns, and power are the foundation for meeting these goals.

Positions are simply the shapes you can get your body into. Patterns are how you move from shape to shape. And power in this context refers to the ability to express any form of strength application.

Once coaches create awareness for optimal movement, they use positions, patterns, and power to improve range of motion, stability, coordination, and strength and ultimately achieve functional movement, athletic performance, and skill.

How to structure workouts

Based on data collected from screens and evaluations, EXOS coaches design training programs — or, in some cases, work with engineers to create program-generating software — to optimize how the body moves as an integrated system.

Training sessions, or workouts, are comprised of one or more training components (listed below). Each component has a generally recommended volume, intensity, and load specific to the person.

Pillar preparation: Your pillar, which consists of your hips, torso, and shoulders, is the foundation for all movement. Pillar preparation, or pillar prep, primes critical muscles to prepare the body for a workout, decreasing the risk of injury and boosting performance.

Movement preparation: Movement preparation, or movement prep, is an efficient and effective warm-up. It includes dynamic stretches that increase core temperature, prepare the nervous system for exercise, and lengthen, strengthen, and stabilize the body.

Plyometrics: Plyometrics improve muscle elasticity and rate of force development, aiming to increase force production in a short period of time by using jumping, hopping, and bounding movements. This trains your body to create and absorb forces dynamically to reduce injury risk and improve performance.

Movement skills: Movement skills help you move faster and more efficiently. Based on your sport or activity, movement skills develop linear and/or multidirectional skills, such as acceleration, deceleration, crossover, shuffle, and absolute speed. They also reduce the risk of injury and help you get more out of your training.

Medicine ball: Medicine ball training takes advantage of this effective tool. Its ballistic nature places less emphasis on deceleration and emphasizes transferring force quickly. This improves kinetic linking and rate of force development.

Strength and power: Strength and power in this context refers to resistance training. Using a variety of methods to target varying degrees of volume (amount of sets and repetitions) and intensity (weight used or speed of the weight used) can progressively increase strength and power to meet the demands of life and sport.

Energy systems development: The component of training programs conventionally viewed as cardiovascular exercise, energy systems development goes beyond the cardiovascular system and targets all systems responsible for providing energy for movement. Manipulation of intensity and duration aim to help the body meet demands more efficiently.

Regeneration: Regeneration relieves tension, alleviates aches and pains, reduces stress, and helps the body recover faster. It includes techniques such as self-massage, cold water immersion, and recreational activity.

When designing a movement-based training program, coaches consider many factors such as training themes (building muscle, supporting metabolism, etc.), type of movement (push/pull, upper body, lower body, etc.), and motion (side-to-side, front-to-back, rotational).

What’s more, coaches use periodization, i.e., cyclical variations in volume, intensity, and actions, along with planned recovery periods, to further adapt training progress for a specific goal. Training calendars serve as a guide to help clients stay committed to their goals, cultivating autonomy and mastery along the way.

To summarize, there’s a lot that goes into designing effective workout programs, but you don’t have to do all the work yourself. EXOS has partnered with BridgeAthletic to help coaches and trainers create digital training plans using EXOS’ movement library.

If you’d like to learn more about the EXOS training system, explore online courses or find on-site education near you.

About the Author

Stefan Underwood

Stefan Underwood, CSCS, XPS, has spent the past 15 years coaching elite athletes through the lens of movement efficiency. He is EXOS' director of continuous improvement, focusing on internal education and methodology evolution.

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