IAS Network News: Sequencing Exercise Modalities and Modalities to Health

Sequencing Exercise Modalities

Previously, we went into exercise modalities and modalities to fitness and health. Now is the time to discuss how to sequence exercise modalities. Once you regain familiarity with how to move (oddly, it is very unlikely you had this trouble when you were in your early teens! What happened?), one needs to  determine what order exercises that are preponderantly in one plane, to do and start first, and how to finish.  I like to have my clients start with very slow easy full body coordinated movements, in every plane; Sagittal (forwards and backwards including most calisthenics, almost every weight lift, cycling and so forth), Followed by frontal plane (symmetrically balanced frontal plane exercises, such as jumping jacks are also plyometric, remember those? These should occur after the warm up.) balanced asymmetrically, left to right and right to left full body coordinated exercises.  Finally, I have them do GENTLE turning and twisting exercises involving some sort of spin, in the transverse plane. Some people will tell me about their back problems. This is usually related to underuse of their backs, and then doing “something” using their backs. Frequently, these problems come from simply getting out of bed, or opening or closing a car door. Their backs fail in some way due to chronic underuse, where the “something” they do creates stresses that exceed the structural integrity of their backs — injury. At this time but sometimes while under way during hard exercise, balancing on unstable surfaces will be asked for.

The next step is to create the highest intensities possible, as early as possible, in each plane of movement, going from speed to power to strength, using jumps, sprinting where possible, using ballistic loading, pushes, pulls and striking bag work, Olympic lifts and finishing with much lower intensity standard compound lifts. This sequence normally can’t be reversed. If you have not done speed work and are doing power or strength in this sequence, that is it, put speed exercises in the next workout, not this workout. The same thing with power. So if you go from warmup to standard compound lifting, you should not do any speed or power oriented exercises, as a general rule. This is very basic, yet far more than what is normally asked of clients.

Unfortunately, many trainers are giving exercises to clients that are mired in 1970s bodybuilding. Are you given a split routine, training chest and back or abs, the same day and then other body parts on other days, because that is what works best for bodybuilding? Below is a typical five day a week split routine.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
Legs Chest / Abs Back Shoulders / Abs Biceps / Triceps Rest



Is bodybuilding what you are trying to do? If you are doing a sport, how do these isolated exercises help? You should ask, “when are you only using your legs, only using your back, only using your biceps and triceps? Further, due to the complexity of movement possible in your upper body, are the exercises given, useful in developing your ability to play the sport(s) you play or do? You need to know your goals, have a vision of how you want to be, and what you want to do, so you can get the fitness to do what you want. Your trainer needs to know this too. This vision should be very specific. Trimming down a split routine with serious cardio-vascular exercise, will not help you cut, jump or play baseball. 

Far better is the following schedule for general athletic fitness leading to high powered athletic sports involving jumping and repeated sprints. Where ever possible, a striking bag is used to develop transverse plane speed, power and strength. Other than Day 7, this plan is 3 to 5 hours per week. Your rest days should be rest days, never pushing yourself to the point of being out of breath, or you increase the risk of injury, and will certainly undermine the quality of your high intensity days. High Intensity exercise is what keeps you toned. 

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7

Maximum Intensity
>95%-99%< Effort
Triple Plane Athletic  Speed/Power/Strength
90/10 Time Split
ATP-PC/AG Finish 30-60 second 99% effort
Very Sharp Plyometrics/

5-12 second Sprints
Olympic Lifts

Rest or Very Low Intensity Cardio
Alactic Aerobic
Don’t get out of breath!

High Intensity Athletic >92-95%< Effort
Triple Plane
60/40 Time Split
ATP-PC/AG (95-99% Effort)
Easier Plyometrics,

10-15 second Sprints

Olympic Lifts

Rest or Very Low Intensity Cardio
Alactic Aerobic
Don’t get out of breath!
High Intensity Athletic <85-95%> Effort
Triple Plane Athletic Speed/Power/Strength
40/60 Time Split
ATP-PC/AG (90-95% Effort)
Low volume low intensity plyometrics
15-60 second Sprints
Olympic Lifts
Rest or Multi-Hour Cardio Long Bike Ride Hike or Run

Your trainer should instead give you exercises that help you do the Sprint Start wi Blocksthings you want to do, such as get more bat speed, a better vertical jump, run faster or have quicker reactivity. Incredibly, I see trainers “training” clients for a goal, violating this situation all the time, not paying attention to proper rest to work ratios, and therefore using the wrong energy systems (a problem found in cross fit).


Modalities to Health 

Through time, you will add sports to your exercise regimen. These sports should be complimentary to each other, like swimming and cycling, or boxing and hiking.

Lucas BoxingTravis and Ed


This progression, will take you to new levels of fitness and confidence, as you learn how to train and exercise in the context of the environment, changing seasons and weather. Also, your body will begin to tune your tastes to eating real food, something that looked like it was a plant or an animal, if you are still eating animals. If you are truly adventurous in your fitness and health, you will take on the task of learning what wild plants, fruits, seeds, nuts and mushrooms are edible, when you are outdoors.  



(In this photo above, we see an edible and delicious hawks wing mushroom that made it to the dinner table.) 

IMG_0623  IMG_0593

~Top we see choke cherries, a tart delight when on a long hike or bike ride!  Worth the stop to enjoy! On the bottom, we see a medium sized great western puffball, very tasty. This one did not make it to the dinner table. 😦    As always when eating natures bounty or providence, sow the seeds and pick, or cut and eat what you are going to eat, don’t yank or pull ~

You will see how the Standard American Diet (SAD) of pizza and other crap, becomes an obstacle to your wellness, fitness and health. Not every friend or family member, from your unhealthy days, will remain with you as YOU change. Who are we to tell them how to live? We can and should only ask. Just don’t let them drag you down, as you prevent your body from aging into a big gut no butt sickly blob. By doing so, you eliminate most of the cofactors to dementia, cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and some other chronic illnesses, possibly including some auto-immune pathologies. Remember, this is your body and your health. Don’t forget, the information age is beginning to reveal primal fitness and paleo fitness abilities, and how to integrate that with modern holistic practices, including modern medicine. The interface between your million year old genetic heritage and the modern information age, should be seamless. You, and you alone are 100% responsible for its maintenance, health and fitness.

When you are coordinated, quick and agile, while being strong, have a great cardiovascular base and eat well, you can BE IN LIFE, through all seasons. You are ready! Lets Go!

Edward Troy


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