NASM CPT Podcast

NASM-CPT Podcast: NASM-CPT 7 Program Design – The OPT Model

National Academy of Sports Medicine
National Academy of Sports Medicine
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Master Instructor Rick Richey reviews the Optimum Performance Training Model which, in many ways, serves as NASM’s anchor.
This episode explores the systematic progression of clients through periodization, and allows us to detail our acute variables, and how to put variety into those variables.
Plus, the overall purpose of program design and what questions, we as trainers, must address to help clients achieve their fitness goals.

Rick Richey is a NASM-CPT, CES, PES, and Master Trainer.

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Hello, and welcome to the NSM CPT podcast. My name is Rick Richey. And we are going to continue today talking about our CPT seven, and basically a webinar or a podcast study course for the CPT seven. So for those of you who are studying for your CPT exam to become a certified personal trainer within ASM, this is the seventh edition that we're going to be reviewing. And for those of you who have already taken your exam, and you are an SMC PTS. First off, congratulations, thanks for making us a part of your education. And also wanted to say that this doesn't mean it's time for you to tune out. In fact, it's a great refresher, it's a nice bit of content that allows you to listen to what you've learned in the past and then think, oh, maybe I can start applying some of the things I haven't thought about in a while. So let's talk about what we're going to talk about today. And today is going to be will, the next two sessions we're going to do are going to be about program design. And 20% of your test comes from program design. We are going to be reviewing today, the NASM OPT model. So the optimum performance training model, and that is kind of the anchor for an ASM. It allows us to go through a systematic progression with clients through periodization. And allows us to say okay, well, what are our acute variables? And how can we program? And how do we put variety into the variables, and the NSM? OPT model allows us to do that. So that's what we're going to be talking about today. Later on in the week, we're going to get into talking about special populations, and program design. So let's get into what we're going to be talking about. program design, what's the purpose of it? Why do we do what we do? Well, we want to ask questions like this, what exercises are most appropriate for my client? What exercises are contra indicated for my client? What exercise intensities are appropriate for my client? So are we going high intensity? We're going low intensity, moderate intensity? Where are we on that intensity spectrum with my client? How many exercises are appropriate for my client? How many sets and reps should I have my client perform? How many days per week? Should I have my client train? Some of that is training with you as a fitness professional. And some of that is the programs and the exercises that we give them to do on their own on days that they are not with us? How many days a week do we do that. So this is about creating a purposeful system, or a plan to achieve a goal or a desired outcome that our clients are seeking the purpose of training program, it's to create provide, develop a path for the client to achieve his or her goal, as opposed to saying, I want this out of my workout and we go, let's just let's one workout at a time and not string those together in a system or a progression. And if you don't have a good design, then if your designs are random, then your outcomes will be random. If your designs are purposeful, and they follow a system, then that means that the system that has been developed, like the OP t model has certainly been repeatable. And that's what we want. We have a proven system that has been repeatable over and over again, showing that those outcomes are what it's what's developed through this system of implementation. And so that's what we're trying to do is teach a system that has worked for many people in the past based on science, it's evidence based that you can do with your clients. And this requires the fitness professional to have a comprehensive understanding of some key concepts. So let's get into some of those concepts right away periodization and the OP t model. First of all, let's look at the structure of the OP t model. There are physiological adaptations of stabilization, strength, and power. Those are the three levels of the OP t model. Let's talk about going again, stabilization, which is our base level that we start with first and then we add in strength, so we must add strength to stabilization. And then we add power to the strength in the stabilization we've built so stabilization, strength and power and it must take place in a planned progressive manner. To establish the proper foundation of strength for each subsequent adaptation. And so we start with stabilization, strength and power. That's our progression. Well, what's the application? I've seen the structure? What's that application? Well, the application is ensuring that based off of what type of exercise plan we are in, so for in the stabilization level, we're selecting the right exercises for stabilization. When we're in the strength of the power level, we are selecting the correct the appropriate exercises for those levels. Are we selecting the right acute variables? And by that that can be sets, reps, tempo, rest range, the intensity at which you're lifting? Are you selecting the appropriate variables that go along with a structured program? And then are we applying in both a periodized manner to different populations with different goals, and that will be our next talk where we get into different populations and how they can be applied. Now remember that na SM o PT model is the optimal performance training model. It was first used with professional athletes. And then it started to be shifted and say how can we take these variables and apply this to general populations? And then we'll look later in another EP? How do we take these and apply them to special populations. So periodization in though PT model varies the focus of a training program at regularly planned periods to produce optimal adaptations, there are two primary objectives, the training program and two distinct periods or phases of training, and training different forms of strength in each period or in each phase. And that controls fatigue and volume of training, and it helps to prevent injuries. So those are our main objectives when it comes to the variety that we put in a PT model, divide the training into distinct periods or phases of training, and training different forms of strength in each period, so that we control fatigue and volume of training and we prevent injuries. Now, let's get into the training plans, training plans, here's a great way to break them up. There is an annual plan, a monthly plan, and a weekly plan. Sometimes that annual plan is called a macro cycle. And then the monthly plan might be a mezzo cycle. And the weekly plan might be what's called a microcycle.

Sometimes those mezzo cycles can change and be lengthened out for a period of time, sometimes the annual plan for a full year, but it might be for athletes for an entire season. And then you can break them down into mezzo cycles and micro cycles for those athletes. So let's just go with this kind of general overview and annual plan, annual plan or as the training program for an entire year. And that allows you to go Okay, well, based off of a typical progression that you might see, I expect to take my client through the O PT model by spending, I don't know maybe a micros and mezzo cycle a month in one particular phase of the NA SM o PT model, and then it might progress them to the next phase and all of those mezzo cycles. Well, over the course of a year, we'll make up that annual plan. Let's talk about the monthly then. So that annual plans may have monthly to quarterly or bi monthly, but here we go monthly plan A mezzo cycle details, the specific days of each workout showing the client exactly what phase of LPT model which is the type of training they're going to be doing. What's going to be required on each day of the week, as well as when they're going to reassess. And it's pretty good when you talk to somebody about when they're going to reassess because it's like a prepping for a test. If you know you're going to do a, I don't know I 10 rep max squat test at end of two months, then that might be something that motivates some people to not only work hard to other with you, but also potentially take some time to go and do their own training outside of their gym time with their personal trainer. Alright, let's look at the weekly or what's called the Microsoft and it gives the client a picture of exactly what's going to be used in his or her workout for that period. So this is what we're going to do this week. And notice that when I say this, it's not about telling the trainer what the trainer is going to do. It's about providing feedback to the client about what they're going to be performing. And I think it's good to, to think of it this way too. process it this way, yes, we need to plan our clients programs, putting macro cycles, mezzo cycles, micro cycles, but showing it to them, letting them know what their plan is. Otherwise, they're just showing up expecting to get a workout, which is fine, but showing up knowing that there's a progression and that there are assessments and there are benchmarks that we're trying to get to by a certain time, and that we need to train for the test, we need to prepare for those tests that we're going to be putting them through these physical assessments. Alright, let's talk about two different types of periodization. There are linear periodization, and undulating periodization. So let's talk a linear for a moment. Linear periodization is a traditional method of program design, and allows increases in training intensity with decreases in overall volume over a set period. So with that, too, in regard to the OP t model, is that you would start with stabilization, level one, the progress to level two, you'd progress to level three there. So phase one, phase two, phase three, and phase four, phase five, that would be a linear progression. Well, undulating is referred to as a non linear periodization. It changes different acute variables on a either a daily or a weekly basis. So what you might be doing in undulating periodization? Is that let's say you've got somebody Monday, Wednesday, Friday, that's training with you. Alright, well, Monday might be stable as a Wednesday might be a strength training day, and that Friday is a power day. All right, well, let's say I'm want to take them all the way up to power. What do I do then? Well, which are you trying to prioritize? So if you try strength, you might do a strength day on Monday stabilization on Wednesday strength on Friday, it's done as you provided a little break, allowing the body to to minimize that same exact type of workout or intensity. So you've got a stabilization day in between. And honestly, as long as you're following that system, then you're going to do well. So which way are we going to undulate. That's part of you as a professional, figuring out what works for your clients based off of what their goals needs want to are.

So let's look at the NASM OPT model. Let's review this through all the levels and the phases. Again, there are three levels stabilization, and then strength, and then phase that level three is power. But let's look at the phases. So stabilization has one phase, it is called the stabilization endurance phase. And the thing I like about the op te model is the name of each of the phases is telling you what you're going to get out of that particular type of workout. It doesn't tell you what it's doing physiologically in the body. No, not necessarily. It's telling you these are the outcomes you're going to get. So if you're in phase one, you're working on stabilization and endurance. So, what do we call it, stabilization endurance phase two moves out of the stabilization phase, and there are three phases in the strength training level phase in the OP t model, which is that very first phase in this trial. So, this is phase two, it is called strength endurance. So, phase one was stabilization, endurance, now, its strength endurance, then the next day is muscular development, muscular development, building muscle hypertrophy, putting on skeletal muscle, increasing muscular size, muscular development, phase three, then phase four, maximal strength. Our goal in phase four is to see how much you can lift and get better at lifting a lot. And then phase five is the power phase. And the power phase is more about speed production rate of force production. And it is a superset with a max strength exercise superseded with a lighter exercise and done explosively which we'll get into that soon. Alright, acute variables, acute means something that lasts for a limited period of time variables, the things that vary or change. So, what are we varying, what are the acute variables? Well, the amount of repetitions that you do, the sets that you do, the intensity at which you train, your overall training volume, the tempo for each repetition your rest interval between sets or circuits, your exercise selection? Are we doing exercise selection as linear? 

Or let the horizontal approach, which is a benchpress. Break, Bench Press break brings rush break, or you're doing cool approach to training. So are you doing a circuit throughout the whole body? What's the order of exercise? There are things like peripheral heart action, where it's an upper body, lower body, upper body, lower body back and forth. What's the exercise order? Training duration? How long are you going to be doing the training, and then training frequency? How often are you going to be coming in to do your workouts these are all what are known as acute variables. Okay, now let's get into the OP t model and just start breaking it down level by level. So stabilization level focuses on the main adaptation of stabilization. It's designed prepare the body for the demands of higher levels of training that may follow in his prep, it can prepare you and your muscles adapt faster than some of the other tissues in the body, like tendons and ligaments. And so the stabilization level is a good level to start preparing your muscles, yes, but also to prepare other tissues in the body because your muscles can get stronger faster than these other tissues. And so what we're doing is saying, Let's start at the stabilization endurance level, and build onto that. So we're not immediately throwing you into heavier exercises that your muscles may be able to adapt to, but maybe the ligaments, the tendons, some other soft tissues in the body aren't quite ready for adaptation yet. So let's look also now at the goals of each of these. So the goal for the stabilization Level One is, it's going to help to correct muscle imbalances. We spend time focusing on the assessment, what are the outcomes of the assessment? Are we looking at some of the short, tight overactive muscles? How do we address those and then how do we address those under active muscles and provide strength to create balance back into our body, we want to improve stabilization, and the stabilization, very often of the core musculature, making sure the lumbo pelvic hip complex is stabilized. We do want to also as a goal prevent tissue overload by preparing muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints for the upcoming imposed demands of training, and then improve overall cardio respiratory and neuro muscular conditioning.

And then we want to establish proper movement patterns and exercise technique. So we'll do our exercises a little bit slower, we'll focus on movement. rather than focus on how fast we move or how much weight we can lift, we're gonna focus more on how well we can move. So in this phase one, specific phase one stabilization, endurance training. Here's kind of a breakdown of what you're looking at the warm up, which will be self myofascial techniques and static stretching, Optionally, you can do add in some dynamic stretching, it's going to be one to three sets, your repetitions are 1/32 hold, which is the tempo, and then you can move right into the next ones, your activations, like core and balance 123 sets 12 to 20 repetitions performed slowly, with a rest of zero to 90 seconds. So zero seconds might be the rest between each exercise, the 90 seconds might be the rest at the end of a circuit. We're also going to focus on skill development, perhaps plyometrics, or speed, agility and quickness. Again, remember, this is a performance based model. Not every client needs to do this. But if they're capable, it's a fun engagement and helps them to develop some skills. So some plyometrics speed, agility, quickness exercises, one to three sets, five to eight repetitions of plyometrics, one to three on the essay, cue your tempo, link in a squat jump to stabilization, you will jump and then you will land and hold that landing for three to five seconds. Keeping that moderate tempo and your essay q work again your rest is going to be zero to 90 seconds. Right. Let's focus now on the more important things in regard to what you familiarize yourself with which is phase one stabilization endurance training, resistance training section. The resistance training your set are going to be 123 it was like that and all the other things are warm up activation skill development 123 sets your repetition are going to be 12 to 20 repetitions, your tempo will be a slow tempo. For example, a four to one zero temple tempo, which would be, let's say in a push up, you'd lower yourself down for four count pause at the bottom for to lift up for one, and then they'll pause at the top is zero. So pots at the top sets when three reps 1220 tempo slow, and your rest range is going to be zero to 90 seconds. Moving on to the strength level of though PT model strength level we're working on endurance and hypertrophy and Max strength. So strength endurance hypertrophy max strength, here are the goals, we want to one increase the ability of the core musculature to stabilize the pelvis and the spine as you start to add in these heavier loads. So these are going to be through more complete ranges of motion, also increase the load bearing capabilities of your muscles, your tendons, ligaments and joints. We're also looking at increasing the volume of training with more repetitions more sets. At greater intensities, you're going to increase the metabolic demand by taxing the ATP PC system and the glycolysis energy systems to induce cellular changes in muscles, which can allow for things like weight loss, but also muscular development or hypertrophy. And then we want to increase our motor unit recruitment, frequency of motor unit recruitment and the motor unit synchronization or max strength, how they work together to create stronger, bigger, more intense lifts. That is our strength training level. There are three phases in the strength training level. So we're going to start with phase two and the PT model. So the strength training levels, the phases are phase two, three, and four. So phase two, strength endurance, it's going to include a warm up like self myofascial techniques and active stretching, you still have the option of dynamic stretching, if you want to do that 123 sets and then here's the thing when you leave a level in the OP t model and go to the next one, that phase that first phase in the level jump is going to be a superset. So you are going to do super sets in your resistance training, which we'll get to in a moment. So you can do also in your warmup we've got self myofascial techniques do and you can do active stretching about 10 repetitions of the act of stretching for a one to two second hold. Right activations. So core and balance exercises, you do two to four sets eight to 12 repetitions at a moderate tempo, zero to 60 seconds, skill development, things like plyometrics, four sets eight to 12 repetitions of plyometrics, or three to five reps, and the tempo is repeating plyometrics.

So you're just repeating a movement, it's not as fast as you can go. But it's not with a pause like it was in the previous set in the previous level. And then we get into resistance training. Here we go. We're looking at two to four sets. And then you're going to superset. So it's eight to 12 repetitions of a strength exercise, followed by a super-set with eight to 12 repetitions of stability exercise. So what might that look like? All right, well, that might look like a barbell bench press, right, traditional strength training exercise for eight to 12 repetitions. And then immediately when you put that weight down, shifting over into a suspension trainer push up for eight to 12 reps.

So now you've worked on your strength and you superset that with stability. The tempo is for your strength training are to zero to zero. So that's a two second cool down phase, pause for nothing, lift for two counts and don't pause at the top either. So down for two up for two, no pause at the top or the bottom. And then your slow tempo might be a four to one zero. So that would be four counts on the way down the E centric. Pause it for too little fun, and then zero pause at the top going right into the next exercise. So that's, again, zero to 62nd rest set after each superset. What does that mean? zero means you're doing an in circuit so if you're doing a chest exercise, you can move on to a different body parts immediately. Or if you're doing them in a horizontal load, then you just take a 62nd break, and then you do the exercise again for four for four sets. Alright, let's go into phase three muscular development, lower development, you come up with the self myofascial techniques, active stretching, optionally dynamic stretching one to three sets, one rep of self myofascial rolling and holding that for 30 seconds. Or you could do the active stretching five to 10 repetitions at a one to two second hold. Then your activation exercises like core and balance, you're going to do two to four sets of eight to 12 repetitions, and a zero to 62nd rest, skill development plyo and essay q sets two to four, your pliers are going to be eight to 12 repetitions and your FAQ three to five, your tempo for your plyometrics just repeating like before your FAQ, you're ready to pick up that speed and start moving quickly zero to 60 seconds rest. Here's our main. Our main focus, again is the resistance training.

On the muscular development in phase three, you're going to do three to six sets of a given exercise or a body part. The repetitions are six to 12. And you can you can go up you can do 12 to 20, just like we did in phase one, it's allowed if that's something that you desire, if your clients enjoy that, you don't have to follow this exact six to 12. But because we've already focused on the 12 to 20. We are now progressing this for muscular development. So six to 12 repetitions the tempo to be a to zero to zero tempo, which is the E centric for two seconds, no pause at the bottom, concentric lift two seconds, and no pause at the top. So three to six sets six to 12 reps. The tempo is a moderate tempo, up for two down for two and then your rest zero to 60 seconds. All right. We've got phase four in the OP t model called maximal strength, Max strength. Our warm up will include self myofascial techniques, active stretching, Optionally, you can do dynamic stretching, again 123 sets, your reps. one rep for self myofascial techniques, holding for 30 seconds, or five to 10 active stretches for a one to two second hold for each rep. Your activations, two to four core activations, or balance exercises, eight to 12 repetitions, your tempo is going to be moderate skill development plyometrics. And that's a cue two to four sets, your pliers would be eight to 12 performed moderately quickly, or three to five of your essay Q and u goes fast. All right, resistance training, here's kind of the major focus resistance training, while in phase four max strength, your set range four to six sets your repetition range, one to five, one to five, so it's heavy, hence, Max strength development. So we've got one to five repetitions, your tempo, at explosive, as fast as possible, a fap as fast as possible, you're going to do this explosively. But but it's heavy.

So we're not focusing on let me lower down for this pause for here lifter that that we're not focusing on that at all, our goal for max strength is lifting as fast as you can move that heavy weight, which will not be fast, but just try to get that weight moving, you're going to move explosively. And then you're going to rest two to four minutes between sets, because we need time for that ATP to build back up. So we can repeat this because we have multiple sets how many sets, remember four to six sets, one to five repetitions, tempo, explosive, resting for two to four minutes. And then we move into the power level. The power level is where we start to increase the speed of muscle contraction, which is called the rate of force production. Our goal is to increase the velocity of movements. It's also to increase the rate of force production by increasing the number of motor units activated the synchronization and the speed at which those muscles are excited. So let's talk about this. That's the last phase and power training phase five warm ups, self myofascial techniques and dynamic stretching 123 sets so you can do one set of self myofascial rolling with 32nd holds or 10 to 15 dynamic stretches and a month. But a dynamic tempo activations like core and balance 123 sets, eight to 12 repetitions to be performed explosively with your core work. And your balance work to be done with control your rest, zero to 60 seconds, then your skill development moving into the plyometrics. And that's a cue three to five sets, eight to 12 repetitions of pliers or three to five of sa Q, and you're going to do these explosively. Now it's time to crank up the speed doing this explosively. And now let's look at resistance training, resistance training in phase five power training, you've got three to five sets. But we also have a superset three to five sets of a superset. So your first set is going to be kind of a max strength lift, you're lifting for one to five repetitions, you're gonna superset that with a power movement, how explosive, how fast can you move, so one to five reps of strength, followed by superset with eight to 10 repetitions of a much lighter weight performed explosively could be something like a one to five reps of a barbell back squat. And then you can superset that by putting that barbell down, and maybe going over and doing plyometric box jumps. That might be that's a good example of what that might look like, the tempo, all of them explosive, as fast as you can lift the heavy stuff and as fast as you can throw the light stuff. So all your tempos on this are going to be explosive. And then you're going to do a one to two minute rest between pairs, or a three to five minute rest at the end of a circuit, if you decide to put together a circuit for this. Alright, here's where I think we are going to get a look at something just as a fitness professional, we need to pay attention to which is called risk versus reward. And that our stance is that you should never really comp and compromise form over function. So yeah, but I can do more, I can do it faster. This way, I can lift more this way. That may be true, but we don't want to compromise form and technique over function so that you can say, oh, I've got more I can do this faster I can do this certain way. form and technique are to be prioritized. Always use caution when training on on unstable surfaces. So be aware of unstable surfaces. And be particularly cautious if you have your clients on unstable surfaces and recognize the limitation of fitness apps. So there are limitations and being there being able to develop programs as you write them and put them out. And then you're there with them, putting them together and enacting them are highly valuable. All right, never compromised form over function, careful and unstable surfaces and fitness apps, fitness apps, not always 100% accurate, could lead to miscalculations of actual exercise and effort and output potentially leading to over exertion. All right. Here's our last little bit of our conversation today. And I know that it was really heavy, could be pretty tedious going through this content. And if you've studied this information before then just hearing the acute variables, what is the set? What is the rep, what is the tempo, all that stuff?

Ah, I know you've suffered enough. So let's wrap it up training modalities. Well, there are different ways that we can train we've got strength training machines, they're free weights, barbells and dumbbells and kettlebells and cable machines, elastic resistance bands, medicine balls, bodyweight suspended, bodyweight training, suspension trainers, bags of vipers, battle ropes, proprioceptive tools like stability balls, and cushion pads, fitness trackers, these are all modalities. And these modalities are tools for the toolbox. So there's not a right one necessarily, and not necessarily wrong one there might be right or wrong, bigger ones for your particular client, some things don't work for. But with that said, the training modalities, having a deep trunk of in our deep toolbox where you can go through different types of training modalities, and find out what works for your clients. What do your clients enjoy doing, which modalities will support them and best reaching their goals and realizing that none of them are particularly wrong. It's just that some of them might be more right for your client, depending on what their goals are and what they actually enjoy doing. And never discount the importance of getting somebody to enjoy physical activity. So if you have to limit how fast somebody gets to their end result, because you did a modality that they enjoyed more, then that could be more valuable. Because honestly, if they're not enjoying exercise, then this isn't going to last long. But if you can get people to enjoy exercise, and to engage with physical activity on a regular basis, then you're going to support them in their process. And that's what's most important, and that maybe they get to a point where they don't have to pay you. You're like, Hey, wait a minute, Rick. I don't like where this is going. But what I'm saying is that we can provide self efficacy. They're doing it on their own, and they're doing it because they love it. That's what our goals should be for our clients. All right, with that being said, thank you so much for taking time to listen to this particular podcast and reviewing the NSM OPT model, every little nugget and variable bit by bit each level each phase of the model. So thank you so much for being a part of it.

If you have questions for me, feel free to reach out you can reach me primarily on Instagram. DM me message me at d r dot Ric Richey ri c h e y. Or you can email me Rick. dot Thank you so much for your time you've listened to the NSM CPT Podcast.


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National Academy of Sports Medicine

National Academy of Sports Medicine

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