NASM CPT 7th Edition Chapter 21: The Optimum Performance Training Model
NASM CPT 7th Edition Chapter 21: The Optimum Performance Training Model 1

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Chapter Goals:

  • Find the differences in undulating and linear periodization.
  • Find the difference between microcycles, mesocycles, and macrocycles.
  • Be able to look at the various exercise protocols used in the five phases of the OPT model.
  • Be able to make use of. The OPT model makes fitness programs for the many goals clients have.

Introduction to Program Design

It can be difficult to create and modify exercise programs for clients and there are many things to consider, like the goals, exercise tolerance, and unique abilities. 

Fitness professionals have many formats to choose from, and this causes some confusion and frustration when we are in the design process.

It is important for fitness professionals to know the client’s needs, goals, abilities, concerns, and contraindications due to previous injuries and conditions.

Some other things to know are the results of the fitness assessments, the forms of exercise they are interested in, or dislike, the exercise variables that you plan to use, the exercise modalities, and the right frequency that matches the client.

If the trainer cannot answer those questions, this can lead to overtraining in the client.

Many times, we see that clients and trainers would prefer a simpler approach to the program design, and this oversimplification is not going to maximize the weight loss, strength building, or whatever aspect the program is looking to focus on.

Program Design

There must be a clear understanding of training plans and the use of periodization for the design of programs to be done well.

Training plans are specific outlines that fitness professionals use to meet the client’s goal.

The variation in acute variables and the correct use of these will ensure the most success with training programs. 

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Periodization is the systematic approach to designing programs that exploit the general adaptation syndrome and the principle of specificity.

An annual plan is known as the macrocycle, which is the longest term plan, and it changes within the months to meet the desired goal.

A monthly plan, known as a mesocycle, divides the training into specific monthly cycles. Specific days are detailed along with the training schedule to be used.

The weekly plan, known as the Microcycle, details the actual specific workouts within a week.

Linear and Undulating Periodization

Periodization has always been shown to be effective for the many fitness related goals out there, but it is not even common practice in the training world.

Linear periodization is a traditional form of designing programs that aims to increase the training load’s intensity while decreasing the volume over a certain time. So, the intensity goes up while the volume goes down. 

Undulating is known as nonlinear periodization, and this involves changing the volume, intensity, and selection of exercises to bring about loading differences on a weekly or daily basis. This shines over other forms of training because it ensures that the workouts are not boring and stale.

The Optimum Performance Model

The NASM made the OPT model to be a planned, systematic, and periodized program for training. It is designed to improve all physical abilities mentioned throughout the textbook.

This program should be used and thought of as a staircase, where you start in phase one and climb yourself up the final phase of power, phase 5. It is totally realistic to stop at the steps, to go up or down, and it will depend on the many factors about the client.

The first part of the template for exercise involves warmup and cardiorespiratory training. There should always be a systematic approach and a clear focus for these programs.

OPT Daily Workout Template

After the warmup, the suggestion is to go to activation. These are the core and balance exercises, and they can even continue the warmup mentioned before. 

A big next step in the workout involves the development of skills. Here the focus is on plyometrics and developing skills like SAQ drills.

The major part of the daily workout is resistance training, which is essential in any program. It will develop the needed bodily attributes like joint and core stability, muscular endurance, hypertrophy, strength, power, and athleticism. 

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The client’s choice then takes part in the program. This has a lot to do with adherence to programs and ensuring that it is possible. 

The cooldown is the last part of the daily workout, and it has the client essentially doing the warmup but in reverse. The objective is to bring the body from working mode to resting mode or simply closer to this resting mode.

Stabilization Level of the OPT Model

This first level focuses on two adaptations: the development of proper movement patterns and the mobility and stability within the whole kinetic chain.

We are building that essential base that will be used for the rest of the stages that follow in the OPT Model.

Some of the focuses here will be:

  • Developing proper movement patterns: squat, push, pull, press, hip hinge, and multiplanar movement
  • Acquiring basic exercise skills and proper use of exercise machines, free weights, and cardio equipment
  • Correcting muscle imbalances
  • Improving activation of the core musculature and stabilization of the spine and pelvis
  • Enhancing balance, coordination, and postural control during physical activity, exercise, and sport
  • Preventing tissue overload by preparing muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints for the upcoming imposed demands of training
  • Improving cardiorespiratory and muscular endurance
  • Promoting client confidence and adherence to exercise

There is only one phase in this level: the stabilization endurance training phase.

The fundamental movement patterns we go through here in this stage are the squat, hip hinge, pulling, pushing, pressing, and multiplanar movement. We are, again, building the foundation that these movements provide that will enable us to do more exercises efficiently later in the program. 

Squatting is an essential compound movement that assists a lot with the activities of daily living. 

Some poor squatting techniques include the following:

  • Keeping the feet straight ahead and avoiding overpronation of the foot and ankle complex
  • Tracking the knees over the second and third toes; do not allow the knees to cave inward (known as knee valgus)
  • Ensuring a neutral pelvis and spine
  • Equally flexing at the ankles and hips; keep the torso and shin angles parallel, which provides equal weight distribution between the ankles, knees, and hips.
  • Maintaining head and shoulders in a neutral position

The hip hinge also is utilized in many movements so it can be quite beneficial.

Pulling, pushing, and pressing use a lot of the movements we will be doing throughout future phases, and they are essential and help with daily activities.

A major part of this stabilization phase is the increase in the demands for proprioception. This is essentially balance and core, and the client needs to grow.

Endurance Training Program

The warm up usually includes self-myofascial release techniques, static stretching, and optimal dynamic stretching, along with some light cardio.

The activation phase will have some form of core and balance exercise to get the body even more engaged and ready to work. 

It may not be good to program the plyometrics and SAQ training that is recommended yet, but it can be possible to train some of those moves lightly or to teach about the exercise equipment. 

The resistance training here should focus on the movement patterns mentioned n the beginning.

The client should then be allowed to enjoy their own exercises if they have some preference.

Strength Level of OPT Model

The focus here is on adapting strength. The different training focuses are:  

  • Increasing the ability of the core musculature to stabilize the pelvis and spine under heavier loads through greater ranges of motion
  • Increasing the load-bearing capabilities of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints
  • Increasing the volume of training
  • Increasing metabolic demand by taxing the phosphocreatine (ATP-PC) and glycolytic energy systems to induce cellular changes in muscle
  • Increasing recruitment of more motor units to overcome an external load (maximal strength)

Phase 2 Strength Endurance Straining

This hybrid looks to promote stabilization endurance, hypertrophy, and strength. There is a distinct use of supersets in this phase.

Phase 3 Muscular Development Training

This is specific for the development of maximal growth for the muscles, and there is a focus put on the high volume of training, which forces these cell changes that increase the size of muscles. 

Phase 4 Maximal Strength Training

This phase is going to focus on the load that is placed on tissues. It requires the client to lift more and more loads to a near max level of intensity. 

Power

This is the third level of the OPT model, and it is designed for the increase in the rate of force production, also known as the speed of muscular contractions.

It is the culmination of the previous levels of training, and it is the final level for the entire OPT training model.

It is not a common training style in the fitness environment, but it is viable and purposeful when properly planned. 

Power is calculated by the equation of P = F times V, or force times velocity. People will be training at heavy loads of around 85 – 100 percent intensity and in the 1 – 5 rep ranges.

Power is the third level of the OPT model, but it is the fifth and final phase in the OPT model.

If it hadn’t been used before, it is rather necessary to have the Specific warmups be used. This means warming up the specific movements through warmup protocols that go through similar movements. 

NASM CPT 7th Edition Chapter 21: The Optimum Performance Training Model 2
NASM CPT 7th Edition Chapter 21: The Optimum Performance Training Model 3
NASM CPT 7th Edition Chapter 21: The Optimum Performance Training Model 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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