Proper Individual Program Design

Researchers in the strength game who fail to acknowledge the neurological component to training adaptation can often miss important variables, or use them within a context that's illogical in the grand scheme. One example is "exercise bias." There's currently a bias toward specific movements as the key exercises for development, but it doesn't work on an individual basis.

A perspective clinet recently wrote to me that he couldn't do a single chin-up. When I asked why he wanted a program to make him better at chins, he said that he wanted to develop his back. I told him that in his case, his back development did not depend on his ability to do chins. My advice was to stop wasting valuable gym time in a attempt to master a single movement, and move on to a more appropriate and viable program. Unless you're being tested on how many chins you can do, there's no reason to consider it a priority in your development. Your precious gym time is better served doing other movements to which your physique will be more responsive. Responsiveness is a neurological biofeedback mechanism of great importance to the training protocol.

The first exercise on my programs are not determined by isolation vs. compound movements, which is limited thinking. Itís all about joint angle, anatomical leverage, and tempo considerations. The movement should be purposeful throughout the entire range of motion, and your intention should be full contraction of the muscles, not just completing the rep. The Hypertrophy based tempo is all about squeezing for every inch or every rep of every set, top to bottom.

All training for hypertrophy should involve some degree of oxygen debt. This is something misunderstood by most trainees who do a set, and then walk around and talk for 10 minutes. It amazes me to see people without a drop of sweat on them at the end of a workout, thinking they're somehow building muscle.

What you do today for training should be based on what you did last time. It should also be based on your current needs state, on what you may have done yesterday in and out of the gym, and on what you'll do tomorrow. This is where the art of program design makes the difference.
The magic is not in fancy exercises with fancy names, and crazy tempos. It's all about the individual, and exercise sequencing, and proper rep ranges, which get bastardized all the time by so-called strength researchers. So there are plenty of ways to modify any program based on the needs of any trainee, advanced or not.

Remember a collection of workouts doesnít make a program. There should be context and purpose behind its design, not just randomly picking things out because its chest day. Structure and purpose will lead to a much better and more developed physique.