Exercise Optimization

Accessories vs Conditioning vs Correctives vs Warmups vs Cooldowns

Exercise Optimization is key to designing effective personal training & CrossFit workouts. Exercise Optimization is the specific selection of which exercise should be done, at what time, and in which sequence. The unique adjustable nature of personal training provides a seasoned coach with far more opportunity to correct and fix poor exercise patterns through Exercise Optimization. The opposite of Exercise Optimization is Exercise Randomization. A randomized workout might provide a basis for assessing a member’s general physical preparedness, but they are not good for improving anything. Random workouts are a waste of your time.

So How Does One Optimize Their Exercises?

Exercise Optimization always comes down to the deliberate selection of exercises so that it most benefits the member at the time of the workout. There are 8 general categories of exercises as shown below. In a class, we think through these 8 exercises, and we sequence them for the athletes taking the class. Beginners need more general warmups and mobility time. They need more correctives exercises. More experienced athletes benefit from longer specific warmups and accessory work.

The more specific you make the exercises, the better the improvement will be. For this reason, we recommend (but necessarily require) all new members to take at least 8 personal training sessions. It might take a brand new member 3 months to rank up from beginner to advanced beginner in classes alone. Whereas many members can rank up to advanced beginner taking personal training in just 8 training sessions. It’s not magic, it’s Exercise Optimization.

Exercise Optimization: The 8 Types of Exercises

  1. General Warmups: targeted exercises that loosely resemble the exercise patterns of the workout.  So a bear crawl for a handstand pushup.  TRX single leg squat for a pistol.
  2. Specific Warmups / Skill Work: are drills and practice technique to further warm up the body for the specific exercise demands.  Muscle-up negatives for muscle-ups.  Pause squats for back squats.  Planks for situps, etc.
  3. Compound Exercises or Strength Exercises: are your multi-joint exercises like squats and pullups that create the metabolic stress needed to build muscle and strength.
  4. Accessory Exercises: target the muscles being used in the main move of a workout.  Tricep extensions are an accessory for bench press.  Accessories are done either one at a time or in a superset to save time.  They are generally done for load or reps. Accessories are generally isolation based exercises that target the muscles that move single joint in a single way (e.g. a bicep curl is elbow flexion).
  5. Conditioning Exercises: are sequencing large compound movements above a member’s aerobic threshold.  In conditioning workouts, the amount of time it takes to perform one exercise should be about the same time as other exercises. When writing conditioning sequences, keep the principle patterns of motion limited to three or less patterns.
  6. Corrective Exercises: are specific exercises provided to a member to correct an improper line of action or sequencing.  So for a member who is squatting with just her knees… providing them a box sit down to … is a corrective exercise to improve hip flexion.  In most cases, corrective exercises are used to build good exercise patterning.  They are most frequently performed in personal training because they are fault-specific.
  7. Mobility Exercises: are exercises designed to: (A) improve passive range flexibility, (B) increase active range control.
  8. Cooldowns: are exercises designed to promote recovery from the workout.  Arm circles after a lot of pullups.  A lite jog after a lot of squats.  Cooldowns are designed to help flush broken down tissue out of the body.  Self Myofascial Release for traps and quads would be helpful after CrossFit Fran.

Crafting a Good CrossFit Workout Plan

Whether you are doing a personal training session or an Rx level CrossFit workout, carefully outlining your Workout Plan is vital to building an ideal class. 

Exercise Optimization in Personal Training (3)
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