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The Whats, Whys and Hows of Successful Programming, Part III

RKC China Kettlebell Swings
 
This is the third in a series of articles about successful programming by Master RKC Dan John. Click here to read the first article of the series.
 
Simplified Programming

With an understanding of volume, intensity and specialized variety, we can now move into the basics of programming. I always start with the fundamental human movements as my guide to appropriate programming:
  • Push
  • Pull
  • Hinge
  • Squat
  • Loaded Carries
  • Everything Else
"Everything else" can be tumbling, lunges, monkey bars, correctives, and everything else. These movements—especially anything done on the floor—often have great value beyond fitness and performance and venture into the realm of survival. If you need to crawl to safety, save your joints in a fall, or climb out of harm’s way, the "everything else" skills will trump a big bicep curl.

Loaded carries and hinges build athletes. The loaded carry family trains the body to work as one piece and provide the stability Stu McGill calls "Stone". When you hinge into someone and turn to stone, you will hit that person hard. These two movements are the key to athletic performance.

The push, pull, and squat are all hypertrophy and power/strength movements. I have one rule: the volume of push, pull, and squat numbers must be exactly the same each week. When you send me a "program" I look for two things:
  1. Gaps: which fundamental human movements are you NOT doing?
  2. The balance of the push, pull, and squat numbers.
I find these volume numbers often vary over a week for American lifters:

Push: 237 reps
Pull: 135 reps
Squat: 15 reps

This is why I love Delorme’s "basically" 15 to 30 reps in an exercise. The classic workouts reflect this:
3 sets of 8
5 sets of 5 (Reg Park workout)
5 sets of 3
3 sets of 10 (as seen above)

Doing the same reps and sets scheme for the push, pull, and squat insures that there will generally be a balance in the body. Many American males need to add more pulls to their workouts to balance the years of favoring pressing and pushing.

Some "Rules" of Simplified Programming:
  1. Do all of the fundamental human movements.
  2. The push, pull, and squat rep numbers must have the same totals.
  3. Use the hinge and loaded carries families to increase athletic qualities and work capacity.
  4. Include enough of "everything else" to keep the client functioning and safe.

Simplified Programming Example: (For explanation of the extra movements, go to my YouTube page: dj84123)

I call "everything else" the "sixth movements" in my training so I sound a bit more professional. It’s like putting my name on my polo shirt: it doesn’t really add any credence to what I say or do, but it looks like I know what I am doing.

Monday:

Naked get-ups
15 Swings/5 goblet squats/march in place
Stoney stretch (RKD)
15 Swings/4 goblet squats/march in place
Windmill stick "look right"
15 Swings/3 goblet squats/march in place
Naked get-ups
15 Swings/2 goblet squats/march in place
Stoney stretch (LKD)
15 Swings/1 goblet squat/march in place
Windmill stick "look left"

Subtotal:
Hinge: 75
Squat: 15

Two Rounds of:
25 Swing variation
5 Double kettlebell front squats
15 Swings
Mini-band walk
Farmer walk

Pull-ups: 3-2-2-2-1
One-arm press: 1-1-1-1-1

Two rounds of:
TRX "T" (pull) x 25
Ab wheel x 5

25 Swing variation
10 Swings plus 5/4/3/2/1/ goblet squats

Push: 5
Pull: 60
Hinge: 230
Squat: 40
Loaded carry variations: 2
"Sixth movements": 4

Tuesday

Naked get-ups
Hip thrusts x 10/15 swings/5 goblet squats/march in place
Stoney stretch (RKD)
Hip thrusts x 10/15 swings/4 goblet squats/march in place
Windmill stick "look right"
Hip thrusts x 10/15 swings/3 goblet squats/march in place
Naked get-ups
Hip thrusts x 10/15 swings/2 goblet squats/march in place
Stoney stretch (LKD)
Hip thrusts x 10/15 swings/1 goblet squat/march in place
Windmill stick "look left"

Subtotal:
Hinge: 125
Squat: 15

Do three circuits:
8 x TRX T-Y-I row
5 Ab wheel roll out
Hip rip R/L

Pull-ups: 3-3-2-2-1
One-arm press: 2-1-1-1-1

Do three circuits:
TRX biceps curl x 15
TRX triceps extension x 15
Bear crawl-bear hug with Judy x 2

Push: 6 (45 Extensions)
Pull: 83
Hinge: 125
Squat: 15
Loaded carry variations: 2
"Sixth movements": 4

Thursday

Naked get-ups
Hip thrusts x 10/15 swings/5 goblet squats/march in place
Stoney stretch (RKD)
Hip thrusts x 10/15 swings/4 goblet squats/march in place
Windmill stick "look right"
Hip thrusts x 10/15 swings/3 goblet squats/march in place
Naked get-ups
Hip thrusts x 10/15 swings/2 goblet squats/march in place
Stoney stretch (LKD)
Hip thrusts x 10/15 swings/1 goblet squat/march in place
Windmill stick "look left"

Subtotal:
Hinge: 125
Squat: 15

Pull-ups: 3-3-3-2-1
One-arm press: 2-2-1-1-1

Do three total rounds of the following combination. On round one do light double kettlebell presses. For round two do heavy double presses. On round three do medium double presses.
Double kettlebell presses
2-3-5-10 (Finish all twenty reps before moving on to the hip thrusts) Between sets do rocks, hip flexor stretch and be a general nuisance
Hip thrust x 25
Goblet squat x 10
Suitcase carry

Push: 67
Pull: 12
Hinge: 200
Squat: 45
Loaded carry variations: 1
"Sixth movements": 4
 
Chicago RKC Kettlebell Swings

Friday

Naked get-ups
15 Swings/5 goblet squats/march in place
Stoney Stretch (RKD)
15 Swings/4 goblet squats/march in place
Windmill stick "look right"
15 Swings/3 goblet squats/march in place
Naked get-ups
15 Swings/2 goblet squats/march in place
Stoney stretch (LKD)
15 Swings/1 goblet squat/march in place
Windmill stick "look left"

Subtotal:
Hinge: 75
Squat: 15

Pull-ups: 1-1-1
One-arm press: 1-1-1

Mini-band walk with black band
Double kettlebell front squat x 3
Waiter walk
Double kettlebell front squat x 3
Farmer walk
Double kettlebell front squat x 3
Light bag carry
Double kettlebell front squat x 3
Medium bag carry
Double kettlebell front squat x 3
Heavy bag carry
Double kettlebell front squat x 3

Two rounds of:
TRX triceps extension x 15
TRX biceps curls x 15
KB French press x 15
Barbell curls x 15

Push: 3 (plus 30 extensions)
Pull: 3
Hinge: 75
Squat: 33
Loaded carry variations: 6
"Sixth movements": 2

Weekly numbers:

Push: 81 (plus all the extensions)
Pull: 158
Hinge: 605
Squat: 133
Loaded carries: 11 Variations
"Sixth movements": 14 Variations

This is NOT a template for you to run off and follow! This would be advanced preseason training for a football player or thrower. But, now you can understand the planning vision for weekly work.

Please note that we do a lot of pulls. Many of our throwers have long careers and busted up shoulders, so they need more pulls. Our collision sports guys (American football) also have issues with the shoulder area. I always ask them to "raise your hand if you have shoulder problems." Watching them struggle to raise a hand above shoulder height is a pretty good assessment of this big problem.

Training a "normal" person will be much easier, but the "thinking" has to be discussed first.

Never-ending fractal patterns come to mind. Fractal patterns are already familiar, since nature is full of fractals in trees, rivers, coastlines, mountains, clouds, seashells, and hurricanes. A leaf looks like a tree, a small stone looks like a mountain. If done correctly, a training day can look like a career.

Jurassic Park discusses this same insight from the negative perspective:
"And that’s how things are. A day is like a whole life. You start out doing one thing, but end up doing something else, plan to run an errand, but never get there. . . . And at the end of your life, your whole existence has the same haphazard quality, too. Your whole life has the same shape as a single day." ~ Michael Crichton

Dan John thumbnailMaster RKC, Dan John is the author of numerous fitness titles including the best selling Never Let Go and Easy Strength. Dan has spent his life with one foot in the world of lifting and throwing, and the other foot in academia. An All-American discus thrower, Dan has also competed at the highest levels of Olympic lifting, Highland Games and the Weight Pentathlon, an event in which he holds the American record.

Dan spends his work life blending weekly workshops and lectures with full-time writing, and is also an online religious studies instructor for Columbia College of Missouri. As a Fulbright Scholar, he toured the Middle East exploring the foundations of religious education systems. For more information visit DanJohn.net
 

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