One of the most common questions I get from people when I am speaking at an event is typically something along the lines of “What do you think is the most important part of your XYZ program?” You can substitute XYZ for just about any topic I am presenting on at the conference. Here are a few common questions along this theme:
- “What do you think is the most important part of your postoperative rehabilitation program following rotator cuff repair?”
- “What do you think is the most important part of your baseball offseason training program?”
- “What do you think is the most important part of your sport performance enhancement programs?”
- “What do you think is the most important part of your Little League injury prevention program?”
Many years ago, I would have tried to come up with a specific response, but soon realized that the answer is almost always the same:
This is usually followed up with a look of disappointment from the person that asked the question! I’ll then explain a few things that it may depend on, however, my message is usually the same.
The Most Important Aspect of Any Program
The most important aspect of any program is individualization. If you want your programs to be the most effective, safe, and fast as possible, it has to be individualized.
There is nothing worse than having a generic “rotator cuff program,” a “patellofemoral program,” or “performance enhancement program” that you just throw at everyone. You are destined for mediocre outcomes with this generic approach.
Individualization begins with an assessment process, but it is often more than just individualizing based on physical findings.
Individualization in Rehabilitation Programs
There are many variables that should be taken into consideration for each person rehabilitating from an injury or surgery. Here is just a short list to get you to think:
- Patient specific variables – age, health, smoking status, past medical history, activities, sport/work, response to injury, previous injuries, goals, motivation
- Injury specific variables – structure, tissue, size, location, depth, severity, chronicity, concomitant injuries
- Surgical specific variables – procedures, specific technique, concomitant procedures, philosophy of physician
This is a just a short list, but something to start the brainstorming process. Each of these variables can and should alter the rehab program slightly.
Individualization in Fitness and Performance Training Programs
Individualization is just as important in fitness and performance training programs. Here are just a few things to consider:
- Fitness specific variables – age, health, past medical history, current fitness level, current physical and functional status, training age, activities, sport/work, previous injuries, goals, motivation, time to invest
- Sport performance specific variables – All of the above plus – unique demands of sport, position, level of play, timing of training, inseason/offseason
Again, just a short list of variables to consider again, but these are all things that you should consider when individualizing any program.
Integrating an Individualized Program
I was inspired to write this article because my friend Eric Cressey is releasing his new training program this week, The High Performance Handbook. I had a chance to review the program and Eric did an awesome job developing a very comprehensive program, but also implement his individualized programs. I really liked the way this program isn’t completely generic, but rather has the ability to be customized to the individual.
For the fitness and performance people, this program is a no-brainer as you get to see exactly how Eric programs a 4-month program for high performance athletes.
For the rehabilitation people, Eric’s High Performance Handbook is great option for athletes and others with a higher level training history to transition back from an injury after rehabilitation. I’ll personally be incorporating the program with many of clients.
Here are a few reasons I am pumped up about the new program:
- Includes 16-weeks of programming from Cressey, these are the same programs used at CP
- Has a unique assessment to really customize the program for each individual. This is impressive.
- You get access to Cressey’s video library of over 200 exercises with Eric giving you his specific coaching cues. Between this and seeing how Eric writes an individualized program, this is as much a learning resource as it is a training program.
- I think you could use the program as a great transition from rehab to sports performance in an athlete.
- The bonus nutrition program from Precision Nutrition’s Brian St. Pierre is a goldmine. I would buy this section alone!
- There are additional 3-month programs to follow after the initial 16 weeks designed specifically to help you dominate the squat, deadlift, and bench press.
Special Bonuses If You Buy Today!
Today is the official launch, and Eric has a special price this week only. Eric is also giving away a bunch of prizes including an all-expenses paid trip to train at Cressey Performance, New Balance Minimus shoes, CP t-shirts, and more. But, to be eligible for the prizes you need to purchase by the end of the day today (Tuesday).