Many people have asked for my opinion and/or an evaluation of various programs that are commercially available and very popular. Since I have not been able to observe these programs first hand for an extended period of time and in the spirit of maintaining a positive tone on this blog I thought it would be better to give you the general principles and ideas that that I look for in a program. From this you can draw your own conclusions. These criteria are the same criteria that I use to evaluate and continually upgrade my own training programs.
- What is the philosophy of the program?
- What are the goals and objectives?
- Does it result in being adapted or adaptable or are you creating one trick ponies?
- What is the context of each exercise and workout?
- Is there a clearly identifiable progression?
- Does it train movements and do the movements connect?
- Is it manageable? Is it time efficient?
- What is the big picture? Is it training or just mindless work that gets you tired?
- Is it principle driven?
- If it is norm based, where did the norms come from?
- How is progress determined? What are the criteria for progression?
- Does it travel well or do you need certain equipment or a trainer to implement it?
- Are there injuries? If the answer is yes, is there a discernable pattern of injuries?
- How much does it cost to be certified in the program?
- Are various methodologies appropriately used? For example are power cleans done to fatigue with an Olympic bar?
- Is it based on one series of exercises or machines?
- Is it mindful or mindless?
- Is it age appropriate?
- How are people evaluated before beginning the program?
- How are intensity and volume determined?
- Is it one size fits all or is it individualized?
In summary evaluation of an exercise or training program must be dispassionate and objective. Try to eliminate bias. I have the advantage of being able to draw on years of experience, so I have seen what has worked and what has not over the years. Remember that a hammer can be a very effective in the hands of a skilled craftsman or it can be very destructive if used improperly.