ACSM CPT Chapter 14: Resistance Training Programs

ACSM CPT Chapter 14: Resistance Training Programs

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    Chapter Objectives: 

    • Learn the principles of resistance training.
    • Go over the how and why of the performance of resistance training.
    • Make, evaluate, and use programs of resistance training.
    • Evaluate the needs and progress of client’s resistance training.

    The History and Science behind Resistance Training

    Progressive resistance training was experimented with for injured soldiers after the second world war. Later Olympic weightlifting pioneers and those in free weight training promoted the industry.

    Not much grew as far as the public until the 60s and 70s. since these times it has grown exponentially.

    General Resistance Training principles:

    Resistance exercise and training are often used interchangeable by people, but there is a distinction to be pointed out. The term resistance exercise will be in reference to a single session of exercise, whereas training will be the combination of consecutive sessions over time. A resistance protocol is a prescription for a single session which we call a workout.

    Specificity of training: This training principle says that only muscles that are trained are going to be the ones that change and adapt in response to a program. So, our resistance programs need to target all of the muscles where you desire a training effect to occur.

    Specific adaptations to imposed demands (SAID): The SAID principle says that the adaptations that occur will be specific to the exercise demands put on the individual. So, if the goal is to work on muscular endurance, and the person does a high number of reps, then it would be achieved.

    Progressive overload: The body adapts to the stimuli that we give it, so by increasing these stimuli over time, the adaptations and improvements will continue to increase. If the load or volume doesn’t increase over time, the body will maintain at that level.

    Variation in training: Programs shouldn’t be done without changing stimuli over time.

    Periodization: This principle is about the phasic manipulations of variables of training for the optimization of the right physiological outcomes while also reducing the incidences of overtraining.

    Prioritization of training: Training goals should be focused on for each of the training cycles.

    Program Design Process

    Having a great program depends on how we identify the specific variables needed to be controlled and best ensure that the training outcomes that we desire are achieved.

    Training Potential

    Genetic potential plays a part n the gains that anyone will make in the variables of muscular performance. The rate of adaptation will slow as the time spent training increases, due to this genetic potential.

    Initial Assessments

    Initial assessments include these things:

    • Needs analysis that focuses on the client’s personal needs and goals.
    • The time frame that is thought to be sufficient for these needs and goals.
    • The muscle groups and areas that are to be targeted.
    • The health issues of the client.

    Prior to the client doing a resistance training program, trainers will conduct baseline tests to find where the client is.

    The one rep max tests can be valuable for these baselines and for the future.

    Follow-up Assessments

    Clients are excited and motivated when they see their improvements throughout the weeks as they work toward their goals. 

    There should be frequent formal reassessments of the tests in order to see and record the progress of your clients.


    Clients are not all the same, so it is very important that programs are built for the individuals and not for many clients.

    Client Feedback

    Feedback from the clients is vital for building effective resistance programs. When training beginners and people that are recovering and coming back from an injury require some extra concern and observation from trainers in order for them to be careful and progress properly in resistance programs. This is one example where feedback could avoid injury and other problems.

    Setting and Evaluating goals

     Good program design is individualized for the goals of each client and trainers will run into many different goals the client has, like weight loss, decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol, gaining weight, building up muscle and strength, and shape or tone their body. 

    People lose motivation when they don’t see their improvements meeting their expectations, so it is important that goals and expectations are set as realistic as possible.

    Having good performance athletically and good health are not always the same thing.

    Maintenance of Training goals

    Capping is a concept applied in some training situations where there are small gains made that require large amounts of time to achieve, but in the long run they are not actually necessary for success. 

    Unrealistic goals

    A lot of times people set very unrealistic and open ended goals that are impossible to achieve or require more time.

    For both men and women, their goals should be carefully examined in order to determine if the program can make the wanted changes.

    Resistance Training Modalities

    Variable Resistance Devices

    These are devices that work through a lever arm, pulley, or cam arrangement. 

    Elastic devices are becoming popular within the fitness world as they are easy to use and not very intimidating for new clients.

    Dynamic Constant External Resistance Devices

    Isotonic devices are ones that force the muscle to exert force at a constant tension. The devices that we do this with are medicine balls, barbells, free weights, weight machines, and kettle bells.

    Static Resistance Devices

    These specialized static or isometric contraction devices are not used often and involve a person pushing or pulling against a resistance that is immovable.

    These use isometric contractions in which the length of the muscle doesn’t change, but it does contract.

    Other Resistance Devices

    Isokinetic devices are ones that keep a maximum resistance through the entire range of motion by keeping control of the speed the movement occurs. 

    Pneumatic resistance exercise, which is the use of compressed air, is pretty popular and allows for the eccentric and concentric  parts of a rep to be changed during a rep or set of reps with buttons.

    Machines versus Free Weight Exercises

    Machines do not always fit every individual.

    Machines have a fixed range of motion.

    Many machines only utilize one muscle or muscle group.

    Machines eliminate the need for spotting and helping.

    Machine exercises may be better for some special populations

    Some free weight moves, hydraulic, and pneumatic machines allow power to be trained since no joint deceleration happens.

    The Needs Analysis

    Resistance Training Goals

    The very first question that should be asked to the client is about the primary goal for the program. Their desired outcome should be understood in order to have a program that appropriately works for the client.

    Biomechanical Analysis to determine Which Muscles Need to be Trained

    Specificity is the principle used here to determine what and how to train our muscles.

    The specificity of training is based on the following:

    • The joint that the movement happens in.
    • The joint’s range of motion.
    • The resistance pattern throughout the motion.
    • The limb pattern velocity in the motion.
    • The type of contraction the muscle goes through.

    Transfer Specificity

    Every resistance exercise in a program has various amounts of transfer for the other activities. 

    Determining the Energy Sources Used in the Activity

    The energy sources that are used in training have major impacts on the design of the program. The same deal with specificity of muscles should be utilized when training and deciding what energy you need to use.

    Selecting a resistance Modality

    Decisions on the modality of training resistance are important in any program. Not all equipment uses the same muscle actions, and this will impact the effectiveness of your sessions.

    Injury Prevention Exercises

    The injury profile of your clients should be known so that you are aware of any common sites for possible injury during the sport or recreation activity of the client. We can work to strengthen or lessen the work if something has been overworked. Communication plays a big factor here, too.

    Acute Program Variables

    Choices of Exercises

    Exercise choices are related to biomechanical characteristics of the targeted goals for improvement. The potential for joint angles to work in are as limitless as the functional movements of the body. Muscle tissue that won’t be activated will not benefit training, so the selected exercises should stress the right joints, muscles, and joint angles that are decided within the needs analysis.

    Exercises can be grouped as primary or assistance exercises. Primary exercises are the one that will train the prime moving muscles in a certain movement and are the major muscle groups of the body. The assistance exercises are the ones that train a single muscle group in the movement done by the prime moving muscles.

    Exercises cam be single or multi joint. The multi joint movements require coordination of two or more joints or muscle groups. This can be things like the power clean or bench press. The single joint exercises only utilize one joint or muscle group at a time. This is seen with things like bicep curls and leg curls.

    We can also classify exercises as bilateral and unilateral. They both are used to develop good balance in the body. 

    Order of Exercises

    The sequence of exercises that is recommended is this:

    • Larger muscle groups prior to the smaller ones.
    • Multijoint exercise prior to your single joint movements.
    • Alternate between push and pull when doing total body days.
    • Alternate between upper and lower when doing full body days.
    • Do explosive and power movements before your standard strength and single joint moves.
    • Exercise the weaker areas before your strong ones.
    • Do the most intense exercise before the least intense.

    Resistance and Repetitions

    The reps and resistance used changes depending on what you are wanting to work on. Doing 3 – 5 reps will have a different response in the body than doing 13 – 15. So, one way to determine your reps and resistance is to find the max weight you can do a certain number of reps.

    Another way we can determine the reps and resistance is by using the percent of our one rep max. This usually gives you a proper rep range to achieve depending on your percentage.

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    The resistance as a whole depends on the goal and level of your client. If you are looking to get better at lifting big weight, then you work with high weights often, and when working your endurance, you work with the lighter weights.

    Number of Days per Week of Training (Frequency)

    ACSM suggests that you should train resistance for 2 – 3 days of total body training. And this can be broken up and days added if you choose an often used training style like a split program.

    Number of Sets for Each Exercise

    The sets done for every exercise is a variable we use to determine the volume of exercise. The same number of sets are not needed for every exercise in a program, and we also can just do one set of different exercises on one muscle group to reach our goals.

    Duration of Rest Period between Sets and Exercises

    The rest period duration plays a significant role in the metabolic, hormonal, and cardiovascular response that we have to short-term bouts of resistance exercise and the performing of following sets. If we do not allow enough rest, then we will not be able to hit our goals, but if we allow too much rest for the body, then we may not be warm up optimally, and thus less effective.

    For standard weight training a rest period of 2 – 3 minutes is recommended.

    Variation of Acute Program Variables

    Muscle Actions

    A concentric muscle action occurs when our muscles shorten and overcome the external load placed on them.

    An eccentric muscle action occurs when the muscle is contracting but not overcoming the force, so it lengthens.

    An isometric contraction is when our muscles are contracting, but they are not moving.

    The most effective programs use a concentric-eccentric approach to repetitions.

    True Repetition and Range of Movement

    Full range dynamic exercise has a concentric and an eccentric phase. And motions need to go through a full range of motion in order to train a muscle properly.

    Periodization of Exercise

    The traditional linear program has 4 phases:

    • Hypertrophy phase: This is high volume with shorter rest periods.
    • Strength and power phase: This is working at a reduced volume with an increased rest period and load.
    • Peaking phase: This is a low volume with a high load and long rest periods.
    • Recovery phase: This is the use of lower volumes and loads in order to recovery from other phases.

    Linear Periodization

    This is the use of progressive increases in the intensity along with small variations made in each of the 1 – 4 week microcycles. It typically follows a line, more or less.

    Reverse Linear Programs

    This is the same as the linear program but in the reverse order. It is best used when the goal is to train endurance.

    Nonlinear Periodized Programs

    This program allows for variation to be in the intensity and the volume every week over the whole program.

    With these programs we see each mesocycle completed with a specific number of workouts are done, not just a specific number of weeks.

    Unplanned and Flexible Nonlinear Periodized Programs

    This type of plan is done for a 12 week period. So, it is similar to a nonlinear program, but here the workout of the day that is to be done is decided by the trainer and based upon the fatigue level of the client, their psychological state, and their fitness level.

    Progression from Beginner to Advanced

    Resistance exercises place large amounts of stress on the body and some exercises need a higher level of technique in order to avoid getting injured. For this reason, exercise technique is of the upmost importance for beginner of resistance training.

    As people become more and more accustomed to the stimuli that they are exposed to, more stress is needed for us to increase our strength, power, hypertrophy, and endurance.

    Client Interactions

    It is important for the trainers to teach people the benefits that can come from resistance training, like the strength, muscle mass, and bone mass increases. This is especially true for the clients that are skeptical about the need for resistance training.

    Demonstration of Proper Lifting Technique

    Giving a good visual representation of the lift they will be doing will allow the person to then follow by replicating that movement pattern. Each lift needs to done by the trainer with proper form and a verbal explanation of the technique and then lastly is the actual demonstration.

    Spotting in Resistance Training

    Resistance training can often have times of physical contact between the trainer and the client. It is often used for correcting or showing lifts and should always be warned and asked for permission prior to doing so. Another large reason for physical contact is the act of spotting exercise. Spotting is used by the trainer to ensure safety for the client. The trainer will be helping the client lift or adding a sense of safety for their lifts. The client should be made aware of the techniques and what will happen in the spotting situations.

    Know Proper Spotting Technique

    This is the checklist for the trainer to know:

    • Know the proper technique for the exercise.
    • Know how to spot for the exercise properly.
    • Be strong enough to help he client with the resistance they are using.
    • Know the client’s intended reps for that set.
    • Pay attention to the client when they are lifting.
    • Stop the client if they perform exercises wrong or break form.
    • Know the action plan for if they do get a serious injury.

    Resistance Exercises

    The book gives us 125 exercise description to be used for resistance training.

    ACSM CPT Chapter 14: Resistance Training Programs 1
    ACSM CPT Chapter 14: Resistance Training Programs 2
    ACSM CPT Chapter 14: Resistance Training Programs 3

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