Programming Principles: Part two – Expressing Strength, The Bodies Response to Training, and How to Plan


Programming Principles: Part two – Expressing Strength, The Bodies Response to Training, and How to Plan

Welcome back to Part Two of our Programming Principles series! This part we will focus on the next principles that are behind intelligent programming.

Again, the reason behind this series is to lay out the principles that all workout programs need to revolve around and help a person to understand the deep thought that goes behind every one of our workouts or programs.

By simply sticking to these principles we can ensure we give the best service possible and set a person up for success by doing our workouts or programming.

Expressing Strength

When you think of “Expressing Strength” Think of this as how your body does muscle contractions.

There are several different ways to express strength that a person can do.

To name a few there is:

  • Muscle Endurance
  • Strength Endurance
  • Max Effort (RM’s)
  • Aerobic Muscle Contractions
  • Battery

Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to sustain repeated contractions against a resistance for an extended period of time.

This is where all people beginning their fitness journey should start and this is a way you should continue to train the rest of your life. Having a great level of muscle endurance will allow for you to do well in almost any type of workout or physical event and will help you to have a healthy body throughout your entire life.

Strength endurance is the specific form of strength displayed in activities which require a relatively long duration of muscle tension with minimal decrease in efficiency.

So think of this as not only just your muscles being able to contract consistently but also being able to contract very hard consistently over time without losing power.

Max effort strength is lifting a maximal load against a maximal resistance. This can be done in a number of rep ranges but think of it as a example as lifting a load one time up and down and then the set being over.

This is a great tool to use in strength training but remember that before being able to express strength in this manner you first need to spend time developing Muscle Endurance and Strength Endurance.

Muscle Contractions with adequate fuel and oxygen (aerobic),  is a form of expressing strength in which your muscles can contract repeatedly without fatigue. When you hear the word or see the word Aerobic think “Sustainable”.

Ideally training in an aerobic manner means we are doing something that is sustainable for a long period of time.

By definition you can see how important it is to have the ability to express strength in the previous mentioned ways before you can try to do strength expression in a aerobic manner.

As an example of this look at CrossFit Games Athletes.

Team CrossFit Mayhem

They take workouts that wipe people all around the world and turn them into an Aerobic Style Environment. This is what separates them from the rest of the Athletic World.

Lastly we come to Battery. There is one way to describe Battery in reference to expression of strength.

It is your bodies ability to do Max Effort Muscle Contractions over and over and over and over again.

I am talking lifting 90%+ in effort repeatedly during a workout setting.

Think of this as a persons ability to drain their battery over and over again and still be able to go and move.

The only way a person should try to express strength in this manner is after spending adequate time moving through the other stages first.

The Body’s Response to Training

This is the story of your body getting more “Fit” over time

When we talk about the body and how is responds to training what we are really discussing is something called “Does Response”.

Dose Response is what describes the response of the body after it has exposure to a stimulus or stressor. 

When making programs it is important to know what Dose Response you want to have from the workout and is something we always think of when making workouts.

The picture above shows how quickly your body responds to training over time even with the best Dose Response Planned out. Each person has a slightly different response to workouts as you can see based on how long you have been workout out or training.

How to Plan

Planning in workouts and training makes it very simple to make a workout/Program.

I like to think of it in these stages:

  1. Goal – What does the person want to do and why?
  2. Focus – What is the most important parts to develop first?
  3. Periodize – What are the phases? We can’t train the same all the time.
  4. Plan – How do we lay these phases out and then execute them?
  5. Reassess/Test – Do the plan as it was laid out and then check progress. Course correct if needed.

Thinking this way makes the method is simple. Accumulate reps and muscle contractions over a period of a few weeks (higher volume, more sets, and more reps). Then Intensify the load and decrease volume (lower reps, less sets, higher weights lifted). Reassess periodically to see how the training is progressing.

Bouncing around these phases and essentially between muscle building (hypertrophy) and strength phases over time is a great way to ensure you are a well rounded and fit person.

Well that wraps up part two of this series! I hope you have followed along and enjoyed this far. Be on the look out for the next part next week as I aim to wrap up this series!

Written By: Cody Smith