ACSM CPT Chapter 18: Advanced Program Options
ACSM CPT Chapter 18: Advanced Program Options 1

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Chapter Objectives:

  • Know the roles and proficiencies for trainers whose clients are competitive athletes or have advanced goals.
  • Talk about how we can maximize performance by improving 1 or more health and skill components of fitness.
  • Find ACSM recommendations for advanced training for resistance.
  • Find other advanced resistance training techniques that are used for maximizing muscle strength, power, endurance, and hypertrophy and how we can use them in a training program.
  • Know the recommendations for anaerobic conditioning, sprint, plyometric, and agility program design.

Advanced Training Status

This advanced training shows the desire by the client to maximize some specific fitness component, whereas usually, the trainers are there for a more general style of training for health and fitness.

The needs analysis for this style of training will focus on maximizing the form of performance they want to work on, but also the prevention of injuries, as they occur more often when you are trying to maximize fitness.

It is important to do a breakdown of the biomechanical and metabolic aspects of the sport or activity. The exercises will be manipulated to achieve their specific goals. The training program will be periodized in order to reflect many fitness components. 

These advanced training programs are the culmination of people’s training status and goals. Fitness being maximized is usually done by athletes and those that strive for fitness mastery in some form of noncompetitive way.

Typically, this style of program is only sought out by people once they have at least 1 year of training consistently and have also seen a lot of adaptation from their training.

Competitive Training goals

Goals can be achieved by trainers regardless of the type of sport that the client is in. It is also possible that the trainers work with the athlete’s coach or coaches in order to really improve. 

Advanced Program Design

This style of training is mostly made up of the systematic manipulation of acute variables of programs. This is a crucial aspect as there is now a smaller window for attaining adaptations when someone is an elite or advanced athlete. A normal program for beginner or intermediate exercises would work and improve many components, but for advanced clients, a program may only work with one or two components.

Resistance Training

The trainer should use the ACSM recommendations for training resistance when giving the client exercises, sequencing, intensities, volumes, muscle actions, rest intervals, frequencies, and lifting velocities. When training resistance, advanced clients will use a lot of advanced lifting techniques, which will be discussed next.

Advanced Resistance Training Techniques

Heavy and Forced Negatives

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These are heavy negatives in the eccentric portion of the movement done with a pace of more than 3 or 4 seconds down. It is done when in the presence of good spotters or even a power rack. The concentric portion of the movement is done with help from the spotter. Another method is done with one limb at a time. You do the rep with one limb and then return to the start with both limbs. 

This style of training should be done with caution. The recommendations are for a 4 – 6 week cycle and only one or two times in a year.

Functional Isometrics

This involves lifting to the point where the barbell reaches the rack pins and is essentially unmovable. The client will continue their push or pull with max effort for 2 – 6 seconds. These are most effective when they are done at the sticking point of the exercises but can also be done at any point.

Partial Repetitions

These reps will be done in a limited range of motion, and the intent of them is to enhance the range of motion-specific strength and potentially the full exercise range of motion strength. These are often done in the sticking point, much like functional isometrics. Some people will use this for muscle endurance and hypertrophy when they extend their sets past exhaustion and cannot do any more full range of motion repetitions. 

Variable Resistance Training

This is done by changing the load in the range of motion. This is usually done by adding elastic bands, using chains, or with some kind of specific machine. 

Forced Repetitions

Forced reps are done with a spotter’s assistance or with a form of self-spotting, and they take place past someone’s normal capacity. The trainer or spotter should only give minimal help and allow for one to four more reps to be done by the lifter.

Contrast Loading

This is the inclusion of low, moderate, and high reps into a session. The lifting of heavy weights is followed by moderate and/or light weights. This is primarily used by bodybuilders for the promotion of hypertrophy.

Breakdown Sets

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This is a descending set where there is a rapid decrease in weight with very little rest, thus extending the set with additional reps. The idea is to go to failure and then fail again with a lesser weight.

Combining Exercises

This is done when we perform two or more exercises consecutively without a lot of rest and are used for either hypertrophy or endurance. The demands metabolically may be greater due to the lack of real rest.

Quality Training

This is the reduction of the rest intervals within the specific loading and volume parameter with the continuation of training. 

Discontinuous Sets

These are just sets that have a rest interval between reps, and the goal is to increase your effort put into each rep and maximize the acute force and power you put out.

Motion-Specific Training

This is also called functional training and involves the training of specific movements. The exercises have resistance added to them, and most of the exercises will stress the whole body or the musculature of the core largely. 

A main style of training for functional training is through the use of bodyweight exercises. These can be pure body weight or even weighted bodyweight moves. 

There is a requirement for basic knowledge of the biomechanics of the body in order for trainers to make the exercises easier or harder when there is no external resistance.

Strength Implements

Resistance training is any way that exercise requires the client to put force against some resistance. There are various strength implements, and they change depending on the form of resistance that is used.

Olympic Lifts

These lifts will recruit the major muscle groups of the body and are known as the most complicated resistance exercises you can do. They are also the most effective for total body power. 

Trainers need to have advanced training and instruction prior to introducing them to their clients. The common moves we see are the snatch, clean, and jerk. There are many variations of these moves.

Technical Aspects of Performing the Olympic Lifts

The lifts need to be discussed with the clients in phases as there is so much going on in the whole movement. The typical phases are the starting position, the first pull, the transition, the second pull, and then the catch. Each one needs to be taught as its own exercise, and then the hard part is doing them all together and quickly. The jerk has the following phases: the starting position, the descent, braking, thrust, split, and then the finish. 

Programs that typically use these moves are ones built for Olympic weightlifters and athletes that require max strength and power. They put emphasis on total body power and snatch kinetic and technique. The rest interval is 3 minutes for the optimum amount of recovery for these moves.

Plyometric Training

This is a form of explosively exercising that will target the development of power. It used to be called shock training and was made up mostly of depth jumping and some variations of that. 

Plyometric training will increase athletic performance. The vertical jump is one aspect that is known to increase to a good extent, and plyometric training is often best done when put together with resistance training. 

Safety Considerations

This style of training is safe for all ages to do when it is being properly supervised. The most common injuries occur due to violating the guidelines of training, not warming up well enough, progressing too quickly in the volume and the intensity, not knowing the right technique, choosing an improper surface to train on, and any kind of predisposition someone may have.

Plyometric Program Design

The training variables for plyometric program design include exercise selection, order, rest intervals, frequency, and volume. The design for plyometric programs needs to be multifactorial and have planned progressive overload, specificity, and variation. Some of the critical factors are things like this:

  • The quality of training
  • The selection of exercises
  • A sufficient amount of space
  • The right technique being taught
  • Proper rest before training again or for each set
  • Gradual progression being utilized for exercises
  • Volume based upon the number of contacts in a session is gradually increased

Ballistic Resistance Training

This is a form of plyometric that is used for increasing muscular power and strength. The regular resistance exercises are done with a full range of motion, and there is a noticeable deceleration in the load prior to the concentric phase. It is basically standard resistance exercising but focusing on the eccentric and the exploding for the concentric phase.

Speed and Agility Training

The training of speed and agility is essential for athletes. 

Speed is the change in distance over time, and reaching max speed takes about 20 – 40 meters, so we put acceleration as a prime component for training along with changing direction, decelerating, and static positions. 

Sprint and Agility Training Program Design

Form Drills, linear sprints, overspeed training, resisted sprint training, programmed agility drills, reactive agility drills, and quickness agility drills,  are used for this speed and agility style training.

Anaerobic Conditioning

This is a term that is defined as high-intensity muscle endurance capacity. It is essentially the ability to do max or near max exercise for long periods of time. 

Anaerobic conditioning is made up of exercises that target speed, strength, and power endurance.

Circuits allow the clients to do some exercises in small amounts of time and yield substantial metabolic and cardio responses that will improve the aerobic capacity of clients at the same time as their anaerobic capacity.

ACSM CPT Chapter 18: Advanced Program Options 2
ACSM CPT Chapter 18: Advanced Program Options 3
ACSM CPT Chapter 18: Advanced Program Options 4

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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