All my programs incorporate principles of bio mechanics, psychology, kinesiology,
physiology, anatomy, neurology, and experience. These concepts/principles/methods/
patterns are reflected in various programming structures. Here is a sample
Start at a specific number, say 5 and each set for a pre-determined amount increase the
reps. Once you reach the top of the pyramid come down the other side using the same
Psychologically this is a very effective approach. Starts light, progressively becomes
more challenging but with an end point in sight and then “becomes easier” the typical
perception is that this is easier than the same approach with the saw tooth.
The saw tooth
Start @ specific rep, for the sake of this article I will stick with the above numbers 5-10.
So here we start with 5 increasing each rep up to 10 where once at top we start over at
5 and repeat sequence
Psychologically this appears easier because of the so called break from the peak back
to the low end. But physiologically this is a type of interval that allows one to peak and
do repeats. In the end I am cannot say which is harder I will let you determine but I do
know from inquiry that people prefer the pyramid to the saw tooth
The straight set
Simple, do 5 reps for 5 sets. No deviation just straight forward work and always a good
barometer. The pyramid and saw tooth compliment this particular concept. Together one
can do the same basic moves, say for example the Kettlebell snatch or pullups without
the it being repetitive. The change in variables changes the demands of the ve helping
one to grease the groove and applied e law of specificity while overcoming the GAS law.
The ladder system I first learned through my coach Mark Reifkind &the RKC training.
This is a very effective method and has many variations. Two In particular are the
Top to bottom & the Bottom to Top.
The top to bottom
This is a great and a psychological winner. Start at your peak and come down. I equate
it to mountain biking or snowboarding where you take the lift up and ride down, always
the fun part.
Example: Kettlebell snatch: 20,18,16,14,12,10
The bottoms to the top is by far harder mentally and in many cases is more rewarding.
Much like the previous analogy, this is purely the climb in mountain biking, no thrills, no
downhill (equivalent to the pyramid concept). However, for a cross country mountain
biker like myself and former pro adventure racer I loved reaching the peak no matter
how hard. I always would take moment to stop and the smell the roses and this is a
great programming practice to do just that
Example: Kettlebell snatch: 10,12,14,16,18,20
The timed intervals
This is a very common used concept with the tabata protocol often used, which is 20
seconds work, 10 seconds recover for 4 minutes of fun. There of course are a multitude
of variations, my favorite being the aforementioned Tabata, the on the minute work and
30 seconds work/30 seconds rest.
These are tough due to the simple fact of accountability. They also provide an excellent
opportunity to increase and train both strength and conditioning.
The on the minute work is used in many programs including Westside barbell, Crossfit,
and Kettlebell training. I employ these in each of the above system programming. The
results speak for themselves and traditional are a love hate relationship for my students.
Aka the superset can combine exercises addressing similar or opposing movement
patterns. A simple example is a push pull or more specifically military Press with pullups.
This method allows one to accomplish more work under conditions typically which
involve more duress but at the same time provide a bit of relieve and can enhance the
Much like above, this concept combines 3 moves typically of different patterns. In
Crossfit there is a great workout known as Cindy which is a bodyweight based triplet.
One performs 5 pullups, 10 pushups, & 15 squats for up to 20 minutes.mit is a killer as
are triplets in general. Of course this type of methodology helps one accomplish a
bunch of moves and work.
Progression is key! Knowing how and when to implement a specific programming
pattern as above is more challenging than a simple numbers game. The Mathematics
and psychology of performance are far more complex then we are sometimes led to
believe. Over simplification is often a key part of under performance. Knowing ones self
and athletes is key and not everyone can or should be trained the same way. The hope
is that these programming methods, patterns, concepts above help empower one to