Last week we discussed progression for a well trained individual. Today, I want to discuss what approach to take for an untrained individual…a novice. As a personal trainer, and now a gym owner, untrained individuals make up the majority of the population that I deal with. How do you get someone who is completely untrained to progress to a well trained strength trainee? First and foremost, as a trainer you need to take time to properly teach the individual technique before you begin to worry about progression. Once the technical side is covered, now it’s time to talk about getting your trainee stronger. Let’s take a minute and talk about the beauty of being a novice. Due to the untrained nature of the individual, a novice will adapt quickly to a stimulus because they have never been exposed to that stimulus. This leads us to the idea of a linear progression. Because an untrained individual adapts quickly we can take an approach that increases the stimulus at the same rate as the individual adapts. What is a linear progression? A linear progression, in terms of strength training, is a progression that increases intensity, weight on the bar, from session to session. For example, if you squat 135lbs for five reps in your first squat session ever, then in the next squat session you should slightly increase the load around 5-10 lbs and repeat this process from session to session until you can no longer linearly progress. Because a novice has the ability to linearly progress a complex approach is not necessary. There is no need to increase the complexity at first when a basic approach works very well. What movements should I try to linearly progress? I encourage picking movements that have the greatest return on investment. I would design your client’s program with multi joint, compound movements that work multiple muscle groups. These include, but are not limited to, movements like squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press. Linearly progress these compound movements until you can no longer increase load session to session. Once you get to this point the training starts to become a little more complex. Refer to my article about long term progression in strength training to get an idea of what variables need to be manipulated to see progress at this point in your training career. That’s it for the day guys! And remember…only stronger.