Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Upper/Lower/Core Format

I's been awhile :) Going through a divorce will take you away from blogging (and a lot of other things). At any rate, I'm back and ready to provide top notch fitness, fat loss, and performance enhancement information on a weekly basis going forward.

I received an email from a reader asking me about the way I generally structure workouts for my adult general fitness and fat loss clients at my training facility, FORCE Fitness & Performance, in Cincinnati, OH. I could write 10 posts on this very topic, as my training templates are broken up into 8 or 9 different phases and exercise selection is different for each client based on the results of their initial assessment, but, the first four 4 week phases in my program follow an upper/lower/core tri-set  format. The rep range and exercise selection change each phase, but the format stays the same. Here is what it looks like (purely an example):

1A. Upper Body Horizontal Pull (ex: half kneeling cable row)
1B. Lower Body Single Leg Hip Dominant (ex: single leg low pulley RDL)
1C. Core Anti-Lateral Flexion (ex: off bench side plank)

2A. Upper Body Horizontal Push (ex: feet elevated push-up)
2B. Lower Body Single Leg Knee Dominant (ex: rear foot elevated split squat)
2C. Core Anti-Rotation (ex: tall kneeling cable core/pallof press)

3A. Upper Body Vertical Pull (ex: band assisted chin-up)
3B. Lower Body Bilateral Hip Dominant (ex: barbell glute bridge)
3C. Core Anti-Extension (ex: TRX tall kneeling fall outs)

4A. Upper Body Vertical Push (ex: standing single arm DB overhead press)
4B. Lower body Bilateral Knee Dominant (ex: DB goblet squat)
4C. Core Hip Flexion w/ Neutral Spine (ex: stability ball knee tuck/jack knife)

2 sets are performed on each exercise, and the rest periods between sets and exercises is minimal (:30-:45) for a total of 24 sets. Yeah, I know, 12 exercises is a lot, and far more than what many fit pros program, but that's how I do it. I prescribe a 3 repetition bracket (in these phases it's usually 9-12 or 12-15). We are progressive: once a client reaches the top end of the rep bracket on any exercise, we increase load and drop back down to low end of the bracket before building back up to the top end.

Remember, this type of format is for adult general fitness fat loss clients who are seeking to improve-not optimize-many different qualities. The goal is to provide a nice overall metabolic stimulus which will maintain and/or build muscle (these are typically people who have not trained in years if ever at all), increase metabolism, increase conditioning, and improve movement in a balanced fashion.We finish these workouts with 6-10 minutes of conditioning: airdyne or concept 2 work, kettlebell swing circuits, countdowns, etc.

In the later phases of my program, after a client has had 3-4 good months of this type of GPP work, we focus more or pure strength work early in the workout using traditional strength building parameters: 3-6 sets of 3-6 reps using heavy loads and longer rest periods (with "fillers" in between sets). I like to build up a long base with adult clients before moving them into heavily loaded barbell movements. You could argue it shouldn't take 3 or 4 months (3 or 4 4 week phases) to work up to traditional lower rep strength work, but I disagree: remember, these are general fitness adult clients who are typically completely detrained.

Give the upper/lower/core tri-set format a shot. I find my clients really, really enjoy it and like the wide variety of exercises. Again, this is just the way I "skin a cat" when it comes to dealing with adult clients in the early stages of programming.


Kathy Garolsky said...

I loved your post.Thanks for sharing this.

mutuelle dans l'entreprise said...

Interesting post

vision said...

Wonderful! you are so right and I needed to hear this.

athletic clothing said...

Upper Format is good to use