Indicator Exercises – The Simple Key of a Good Program.
Four years ago, Dave Tate introduced me to one of the most important training concepts I’ve heard to this day – indicator exercises.
Your indicator exercises are the exercises that are going to tell you whether or not the program is working.
Indicator exercises keep your training directed, focused and optimal. Removing the excess “fluff” so you can just channel your energy into getting better.
I recommend choosing between 3-6 indicator exercises, pick exercises that if you improve upon – it guarantees you’ll get closer to your personal goal (the definition of an indicator exercise). There are only two rules to follow:
- Specificity: They must be specific to your goal. For most individuals focused on strength/hypertrophy it’s going to be the squat, bench press, deadlift and maybe a pulling exercise. Athletes will need different exercises dependent on their sport, exercises that test power, aerobic capacity, agility and speed etc.
- Ability to Overload: You must be able to measure improvements in these exercises. For example, lunges and squats are two great exercises if your goal is to build quadriceps but which is going to be easier to measure progress in? Clearly the squat (strength focused indicator exercises are always compound exercises).
Now you’ve selected your indicator exercises. You can start building a program around them; only pick exercises that improve upon chosen indicator exercises or are the indicator exercises themselves.
If indicators are the broad jump, bleep test, squat and bench press – wrists curls probably won’t help you…
Example of building the program around the bench press:
Construct the personal program, and try it out.
Indicator exercises getting better? Good, you’re making steps towards said goal, keep going. They’re not? This is the time to reassess your program and stop spinning those wheels.
*Strength athletes/powerlifters, this is a must read from Dave Tate for building your program around indicator exercises: http://www.elitefts.com/education/supplemental-strength/