27 Nov What to Consider When Prescribing an Exercise


When it comes to programming there are always numerous factors to take into account. If I use a talented young athlete with aspirations to represent their country at the next Olympics as an example then some of the factors that I may have to take into account if simply prescribing a very common and basic exercise such as the squat include:

Exercise Considerations

– Probably the most important point – what is the reasoning and logic behind such a prescription
– Squat variation eg back squat, front squat, safety bar squat etc
– Unilateral or bilateral
– Sets/reps
– Volume/intensity (this will be dictated by the previous point which will be determined by what the athlete is doing in terms of their training with their chosen sport)
– Tempo
– Is there any form of eccentric/concentric overload (this could be in the form of tempo prescription, use of implements eg bands, chains etc)
– Will there be any isometric pauses
– Are there any other advanced methods to be used – is the athlete ready for such advanced methods?
– Range of motion eg quarter squat, half squat, full squat etc
– When will this exercise be prescribed within the session eg is it the main exercise – the ‘A’ exercise?
– Is the athlete structurally sound (this is in my opinion extremely important) and technically good enough to complete such an exercise
– In terms of strength imbalances and priority/predictor lifts does this lift match what the athlete needs
– How does this exercise and the sets/reps I have prescribed flow on from the athlete’s previous program. There has to be some consistency in terms of what we prescribe from one program to the next – both in the form of volume and intensity as well as methods that we use (a common method I might use over a 12 week cycle depending on the athlete is to expose the athlete to a lift in phase 1 – in this example it’s the squat, phase 2 might have some form of eccentric overload, phase 3 may have more of a concentric overload before phase 4 re-exposes the athlete to the lift)
– When will the athlete do this exercise/session. The last thing I want is to have them sore for their actual training whether that be at the track, velodrome, pool etc

Concluding Thoughts

Now hopefully this doesn’t make things sound too difficult because I don’t think it is, but in terms of young athletes its important we always put a lot of thought into what we prescribe as they have to do a lot more than just simply lift weights in the gym each week. There are so many other factors that need to be taken into account. I think at times we have to be smarter in terms of how we write programs to help aid talented athlete’s performance but at the same time we also have to do our best to help prevent injuries and also ensure that recovery is optimal. Simply doing more is generally from my experience never the answer!

Train smart!

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