Training Programmes- Critical Non-Essentials and Finding 5% Extra

Training by it’s general nature is the repetition of something to get better at a given task. This often can lead to a lot of repetion of certain exercises or types of training which can lead to staleness, boredom and sometimes a loss of motivation. In our training centres we pride ourselves on having an innovative approach to training.

Often changing or tweaking the way you train with subtle changes can provide a whole new training stimulus, indeed trying something different although not a wholesale change can give a good training effect. That is why I term some methods critical non-essentials. If anyone has read Sir. Clive Woodward’s autobiography on how England won the world cup then you will understand that sometimes little things can be the difference between a good and a great result- he discussed this with it’s merits towards winning a rugby match but the same thing can be applied to your training..

1. Go Barefoot… Dropping your footwear or buying a minimal shoe such as a Vibram Fivefinger or a New Balance Minimus can have a profound effect on your training. Though not necessarily for everyone and not necessary for those who run large distances the effect of trying a change in footwear can have a great carryover to balance, proprioception and strength. The concept revolves around training the foot to do it’s proper job helping strengthen your arches naturally- something that modern supportive shoes do not necessarily do very well. By performing your gym based workouts barefoot it can help develop foot strength and ankle stability with exercises such as walking lunges before moving on to low level running for those with suitable strength and good posture.

2. Intensity Ahead of Volume… The efficency of what you do has a direct corelation with the results that you want to acheive. As you become fitter you develop the ability to do more- in effect you acumulate training volume. The key to really taking your fitness levels up to the next level is working on developing your training intensity- not just how much you do. The benefits of interval training are pretty well documented so rather than using steady state cardiovascular exercise mixing periods of high intensity work with active recovery is a more efficent way of working. We have found (escpecially in women) that aiming to improves someone’s top levels of strength translates well to helping improve their conditioning gains once their general conditioning levels have plateaued. Dropping your repetitions per exercise to 5 for bigger exercises such as squats, deadlifts, press ups and pull ups will help lift maximal strength levels and can give you training the kick it needs to take you on to the next level.

3. Turn the Session Upside Down… From time to time we get stuck in a training rut. Turning things on it’s head from what you normally do can have a great effect. For example, do you normally stretch at the end of your session? If you do it may mean that you have not been prioritizing flexibility as part of your training. Moving it to the start of the session may help give this facet of fitness a push as well as give a slightly different emphasis to your training. Do you normally train your abs at the end of a session? If you do place them at the start, it will switch your abs on and mean that you core muscles are ready for the session ahead instead of justing throwing a bit of ab work together at the end of the session.

So why not try this three methods and let me know what you think!!!!

Published by ianmellis

Ian Mellis MSc. CSCS is the co-founder of Results FAST ( in Ware, Hertfordshire. Specialising in athletic development, physique improvement and injury rehabilitation he provides personal training, strength and conditioning and nutrition coaching for motivated exercisers and those looking to make a long term change to their health, fitness and performance.

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