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Functional Rig Training Approach

Used effectively, the MultiRig offers a superb central hub for high quality training. We are keen to see you making the best use of our equipment. Our Rig design is not random as primal movement patterns are our main driver through the development process.

The MultiRig has numerous Base stations with the option to add on Rig modules and accessories offering enormous scope for great training and excellent results. Given the popularity of the many Functional Training Rigs on the market we have put together our broad recommendations for training and specifically with the MultiRig system.

Some of the best trainers in the world have over time developed what they consider to be good training procedure: Mike Boyle suggests that we follow these three pillars of good training approach:

  1. We will do no harm
  2. We will train no further than technical failure
  3. We will deliver the minimum effective dose

Whilst thoroughly endorsing these pillars, we would perhaps reinforce pillar 1 by saying that we will minimise the risk of injury occurring through training.

Each of these pillars does however have significant implications for how we approach coaching strength and conditioning in order to most closely meet those conditions.

As with all training it is prudent to undergo some sort of medical screen prior to initiating training.

Programmes should begin with a fitness test or assessment in conjunction with an understanding between the coach and client of the goals and level of commitment that the client has, prior to beginning the planning of the programme. We would however recommend an interim but critical stage of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS).

‘First move well and then move often’

We want to ensure that the body is moving properly and is unlikely to cause damage to itself before performing under stress through higher intensity, loading and volume in the performance phase of training. This is a real area of concern, because if the body is not currently moving in a sound biomechanical way then putting additional strain on it through intense physical loading is likely to cause injury or other physical problems. By addressing any potential issues in functional movement prior to initiating a performance training programme, we are able to reduce the risk of injury through poor movement patterns being loaded at levels that cannot be maintained over a sustained period.

The specifics of a FMS are outside the scope of this document, however to understand this area we recommend a qualification or understanding of FMS through reading of Gray Cooks (2010) book; Movement, Functional Movement Systems, Screening-Assessment-Corrective Strategies.

As a result of the FMS we are ready to train for performance safe in the knowledge that any biomechanical limitations have now been addressed.

We understand the desire for companies promoting their training protocols to mass market quickly and efficiently, we would however strongly counsel against any short cuts being taken in the time and knowledge base that potential trainers need before they are accredited, promoting the marketing of a system above the quality of the training and the training protocols and approaches that support this training. Of particular importance is that no short cuts are taken in programme design, injury minimisation and quality of form of exercises acceptable within day to day sessions.

We would endorse an approach where diet is emphasised as a fundamental part of any training programme, where the information around training is accessible to all involved and the metrics used are standardised across trainers globally to allow for genuine comparison of differing protocols and approaches over time. We would also endorse the use of training primarily through good movement and use of the body rather than an emphasis on individual muscle groups. We would like to be able to use those exercises that provide the most ‘bang for the buck’, however in doing this it is important to recognise that not all exercises are suitable for everybody and that when relatively complex exercises are being used in a programme, there may be a relatively long period of ‘ramp up time’ or skill development before some exercise can be used at a training level. We would also like potential trainers to consider the undesirability of performing some of these complex exercises for repetitions of greater than five or six (such as the Olympic lifting movements) and also the inherent risks that have been identified in performing relatively complex movements under load when fatigued (particularly when skill acquisition may still be at a relatively low level and not fully pressure proofed).

We are then beginning to develop a manifesto for good training, not just with our MultiRig system, but also as a general approach to training. In developing this we would also endorse the following approaches:

With anyone who is new to training or who has been out of training for some time, complete a medical screen and ideally a functional movement screen with any remedial work that needs to be completed happening prior to initiation of performance testing and Performance based training. At the very least ensure that for new clients or those who have been out of training for a while that there is a ramping up process in place to bring them into full training mode. This process will be guided by the coach and the results of performance testing, but will almost certainly include modifications to exercises, repetitions, the number of sets performed and of course the level of resistance (or weight) applied for any given exercise. Additional to this we would suggest both the coach and client diary the perceived impact of training and specific exercises on their body. For those who have limited training experience, there will also by necessity be a period of education, skill development and particular interest taken by the coach in the level and rate of progression of their clients in being able to perform all the movements with a satisfactory level of skill. During this period, a good coach will be on the lookout for any exercises that their client is biomechanically unable to perform or where the level of exercise is simply out of their clients’ skill level or indeed level of conditioning. Where necessary adjustments to the programme can then be made.

It can be seen that we regard the trainer as very much a coach, with all that demands in terms of education, the coaches eye (being aware of and how to adjust technique or form), the experience to know what is likely to work, and the ability to identify through screening procedures what the client is capable of doing and the order of exercises and progression. We believe that the coaches’ role in S&C is analogous to that of the coach in sport. This role is very much in contrast to that of instructor where the name of the game is to get individuals or groups through a set pattern of exercises with little regard for individuals form or fatigue levels and with a likely emphasis on times and numbers of repetitions rather than technique being the principle driver.

We have underlined then the importance of a ramping up process which may well include extensive coaching and education in the technical movements required. We should also ensure that that the exercises chosen and the order of exercise is actually in line with the goals of the client, so is this programme going to impact on the client in the important of the following ways:

  • Is it orientated to the client goals?
  • Does it have a positive impact on the likelihood of injury reduction?
  • Will it have performance benefits?
  • Is the programme likely to increase the longevity of the client in their chosen activity?

The basic tools that the coach has in their toolbox to achieve this once the initial programme is instigated are:

  • Progressions / regressions
  • Variety
  • Technical corrections

These tools should be used with some thought; it is too often that trainers will be so nervous about losing their clients and in keeping the programme interesting and cutting edge that their prime focus is on variety over the correct use of progressions and technical corrections.

We are making it quite clear that a lot of the responsibility for any programme having a chance of being a success is down to the coach, their understanding of the client, their assessment, programme design and actually on the gym floor coaching. A lot of the previous discussion of course also points to individualisation of programmes, and whilst we accept that this is not always possible in its most complete form, we would certainly emphasise the value of as much of this process being as individualised as possible.

What we are developing then is sound training ideology primarily based around good movement patterns, which in turn allow us to develop over time good habit creation in all aspects that influence good training and its crossover into performance. This emphasis based on the acquisition of skills that support good movement has many benefits in that if we are able to create good movement efficiency and poise then we know the body is moving with sound biomechanics, at this stage we then give our client the possibility of actually moving like an athlete, and if we have achieved these sound movement skills we can effectively through good programme design and coaching assist with the ‘layering on’ of power and that critical ability to put power through technique.

Think for a moment about the converse where we do not put this initial emphasis on movement skills, we have a body that moves biomechanically unsoundly, we then ‘layer power’ through training onto an unsound chassis, with the inherent increase in both training and performance injury risk (hence we break one of the fundamental rules of good training).

One final note on good training and programming is to use periodization of programmes; in essence periodization of training means that there is a systematic variation of the volume and intensity of training. This is structured within different cycles, primarily a long term cycle (macro-cycle), which is often over a year, and within this a number of meso-cycles that may last from a couple of weeks to a number of months.

We have written further on this very important area of training planning in our Rig Training manual however it has benefits in that individuals training across a periodized programme seem to be able to get the more benefits from less training time that non-periodized programmes, plus the variation in the programme allows some recovery and super-compensation from training while other systems are being loaded, thus adds to the efficiency of training.