Strongman Program Design with Dr.Davidson: Part 2.1 – Program Design




Here’s installment 2.1 of Dr./Coach Patrick Davidson’s program design process. Be sure to first read Part 1 and 2.0 so you understand where he is coming from with some of these answers.

Q: Do you print off programs from pre-written templates or the same programs from last off-season?

A: I borrow from things that I have done in the past, but I typically institute something new with every training block. I try to never stop learning, and I think that my learning is reflected in my program design. Program design is a window into a coach’s soul. You get to see what they think is important. I have a few things that are old standbys. My three week strength block is an old standby. Some of my hypertrophy protocols are old standbys. I basically know what those blocks are going to accomplish at this point, and I can dust them off and haul them out at certain times of the year. Training and coaching is an evolution though. The field of strength and conditioning has the fastest changing climate that could be imagined. I must continue to adapt, otherwise I feel like I will be a dinosaur in a matter of a month’s time.

          I suppose that I stick with a few principles. I outlined some of my principles in the first answer, but I’ll give you a few more here. Principle #1: The greater the imposed stress, the greater the end product following recovery (at some point). Principle #2: Figure out a protocol that would cause the least amount of intraset fatigue while still driving tremendous interset fatigue/overall training block fatigue. I don’t want form to break down, and I don’t really want too much of a loss in power production during the work set, but I want to ultimately stress the athlete’s system as hard as possible…this is something that Triphasic Training seems to talk a lot about and accomplish better than anything that I have previously done. Principle #3: Let the qualities that you are trying to develop drive the program design, not specific exercises. I used to do a lot of squatting and olympic style lifting. I don’t program with those exercises anymore. I have carved my exercise choices down significantly because I’m not in love with any particular exercise anymore. I just try to pick the ones that the vast majority can actually do correctly without compensation, and the ones that will be directly performed in contests that people will compete in.

          Finally, to answer this question in a slightly roundabout way, I can say no, I generally do not use pre-packaged training sessions or anything from the previous year. Most of the time when I look at what I thought was a good idea from previous years I want to throw up. I look back and think…what was I thinking? I berate myself to some degree. I had good intentions, but I display my own ignorance to myself. I probably won’t ever run the strength block that I described here again. There’s too much fatigue from an intra-set perspective. I can get similar results by dropping the load and cutting the sets shorter in terms of reps. Reducing intraset fatigue and performing fewer reps per set will ensure optimal technique for every rep and avoid driving increasing levels of movement dysfunction into athletes while still allowing them to achieve tremendous strength gains. 


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  1. […] of Dr.Davidson’s strongman program design process. Be sure to read Part’s 1, 2.0, and 2.1 before getting into this part […]

  2. […] Part 2.4 of Dr./Coach Davidson's program design series! Be sure to check out Part's 1, 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3 before reading this one so you're caught up with his thought […]

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