Exercise Order for a Training Session◆ ☕️ 4 min read
- Movement Preparation
- Neural Preparation
- Power Training
- Strength Training
- Accessory Work
- Recovery & Cool-down
A singular strength training session can be broken down into functional parts to provide for an outline on how to sequence your session. One way to do this is through a kinetics approach.
From a mechanics perspective, kinetics refers to the relationship between motion and its causes, like force and torque. In a training context, you can use three pillars to characterize your exercises – load, velocity, and duration. You can assign values to all of those 3 to provide you with a scale from low to high. At this stage, the specific values don’t matter. The focus is on how to organize exercises according to those characteristics relative to one-another in a single training session.
Movement Preparation #
Low load, low velocity, moderate duration
That’s what normal people call a warm-up. Movement preparation is intended to do what the name says – prepare you for movement. You want to mimic the activities you are going to train in this session or target improving general movement capabilities. You’re not trying to fatigue yourself, as this would result in deterioration of the quality of the work to follow. Therefore, your warm-up shouldn’t utilize high loads or movement velocities, or be extensive.
Aim for as little preparation as necessary to get you ready for the workout ahead. 2-3 drills specific to your needs in about 10-15 minutes is a good range to aim for. In most cases, you would do some warm-up sets for specific exercises in the following categories. That would also be categorized as movement preparation.
Neural Preparation #
Low load, high velocity, short duration
This stage is all about priming the nervous system, hence the name. Here you might include speed work (accelerations, sprints) and agility training (change of direction drills), if you choose to develop those qualities. The main aim is to produce high velocities with low loads.
This can also include plyometrics or other types of ballistic exercises such as medicine ball throws at lower loads, where the power outputs (power is the product of force and velocity) are more impacted by the velocity component and less by the force component (as the load is kept relatively low).
Speed and therefore power qualities are strongly impacted by fatigue. To maintain training quality and train what you intend to train, put those activities towards the start of your training session, approach them with maximal intent, and keep the rest periods appropriately long.
Power Training #
High load, high velocity, short duration
This is where your main power exercises live. This stage would primarily be your Olympic weightlifting exercises and their derivatives, like hang cleans and clean pulls. As stated, power is the product of force and velocity. Those exercises allow for both high force and high velocity production in a ballistic manner. Trap bar jumps could also be included here.
Again, power qualities deteriorate quickly, and the technical requirements of Olympic lifts are high; thus, you want them done earlier in the session before fatigue starts undermining the safety and quality of exercise execution.
Strength Training #
High load, low velocity, short-to-moderate duration
This is your high force at low velocity training, also known as maximal strength training.
This could include anything from but not limited to squats, deadlifts, presses, and pulls. Compound lifts can be technically very complex and demanding of energy. As such, you want them out of the way before your simpler and lighter accessory work to reduce injury risk and maintain training quality.
Accessory Work #
Moderate load, moderate velocity, moderate duration
This can include exercises from the previous category along with additional core-focused exercises.
Accessory work is usually completed at moderate loads and velocities. No one gives a fuck about what your 1 repetition maximum is on a bicep curl, so don't be that guy. Especially in athletic populations, where the aim should be on improving performance instead of smashing the numbers in the gym.
Focus on your main movements and use accessories for what they are intended for - to introduce variation, target hypertrophy goals if considered necessary and generally fill in the “gaps” or eliminate weaknesses for injury prevention aims.
Recovery & Cool-down #
Low load, low velocity, moderate-to-long duration
The final piece would be some type of conditioning work for recovery and cool-down purposes if you choose to do it.
This is what a training session might look like when training several qualities concurrently in a single session. In reality you might have different sessions emphasizing different qualities. Or you might just be a meathead only focusing on heavy strength training at low velocities. Still, having a plan for how to sequence exercises targeting different qualities allows you to get more out of your sessions.
These thoughts are nothing revolutionary. It’s just something applicable to provide structure to your training. Take it for what it’s worth.
The main intent with this article is to get you to think more about what you do, how you do it, and why you do it. Figure out where the loopholes are in your training process. Fix those to train more effectively.
Thank you for stopping by and having a read. Feel free to contact me with any training-related questions.