Strongman Program Design with Dr.Davidson: Part 2.2 – Program Design




Here’s part 2.2 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 here.

Q: Do you write a separate individualized program for each athlete or does the whole team do the same thing?

A: I do not write separate, individualized training programs for all the athletes. In an ideal world I would have assessments conducted at least once a month on the athletes. The athletes would receive up to date corrective exercise packages based on their assessment results. I’d like to run them through the FMS, SFMA, and PRI tests at these assessments and track their progress over time. I’d discover each athlete’s main driver of dysfunction and focus on that. I’d try to give them some mobility, then try to lock it in with an appropriate static stability challenge in a transitional posture, and then give them a dynamic stability challenge prior to making the decision on whether or not to load them. I’d test and retest their primary dysfunctional pattern before and after my interventions. The reality is that there are about 25 people for every training session, and I’m training then too. There is no assistant coach. A few of the athletes really get this overall concept because they’re smart and they’ve had multiple classes with me. Some of them are absolutely clueless and they are movement nightmares. Most of them are somewhere in the middle.

          So here’s what I’ve come to do lately with the corrective exercises –  I’m guessing and generalizing. I’ve tried to do a lot of background reading into PRI. I still have a lot to learn, but I’ve learned enough to help me make some decisions. The PRI people are really smart, and they seem to be saying that just about every human is stuck in the left AIC pattern and the right BC pattern (I haven’t learned anything about the stuff north of the neck yet) except for people who have their heart and their liver on the opposite sides of their body. I’m assuming I don’t have any of those people on the team. I see these guys exercise all the time, and I see the same things. Lack of deep core stability, inability to prevent anterior pelvic tilt, compensatory extension, pronation collapse, right foot stance at rest, inability to breathe in certain postures and positions, left hamstring and adductor inhibition, right adductor hypertonicity, spinal erectors that are acting as people’s new butts due to poor pelvic position, hip flexors that are acting as people’s new abs due to poor pelvic positioning, scapular downward rotation syndrome, anterior humeral glide syndrome, the list literally goes on and on. I get sick of looking at the same dysfunction in multiple individuals on a daily basis. I feel like 90% of them all have the same major driver of dysfunction…poor pelvic position and an inability to get an appropriate ZOA and breathing strategy. I also get tired to seeing people butchering their corrective exercises and not having the coaching manpower to fix my worst offenders . So I decided to print out a bunch of pictures of PRI corrective exercises with written descriptions under the pictures. Everybody can access the picture and the description. What I’m seeing isn’t perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than what I was looking at before. I could have a more individualized thing going on, but I know what I’d see…crap technique…lack of awareness…a good idea on paper, a train wreck when seeing it live. PRI seems to be offering corrective techniques that are pretty specific to movement dysfunction associated with the human condition…so in many ways it is individualized. There is tremendous focus on the pelvis, breathing, and alignment…I like that stuff, and I don’t know any of my athletes who don’t need to work on those pieces. So maybe if I can get assistant coaches at some point and have them out on the floor and coming over and cueing people I’ll go back to specific individualized correctives for the guys, but for now, I’m sticking with my PRI pictures and written descriptions.

          As far as the strength training goes, I don’t have individualized programs. The exercise selection that I use in the program design is unbelievably simplistic. We deadlift and we push things over our heads…that’s what I want people to be good at. I throw in variation with the assistance exercise, but I’m not a big believer in a ton of variety from an exercise selection standpoint for strength development. The deadlift is the biggest pull you can do, and the overhead is the biggest push you can do. The deadlift is a flexion pattern, the overhead is an extension pattern. They complement each other beautifully, and I feel like most people can do these things with competency. I look at these exercises with the same 80/20 perspective that Coach Boyle uses for his training facility. I just wish I could have a few interns or assistant coaches to pull the 20% of guys who are incompetent movers out of the program design, because I do have a couple of guys who are ugly pullers and pushers. Sometimes I start thinking that I should write up individualized things for those guys…but then I start thinking more about those guys…they’re my most clueless guys. They wouldn’t know what to do with an individualized program without a personal coach walking them through it. I’d rather have them working at a rack with other athletes who have a clue rather than sending them out into the wilderness by themselves. 



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