10 Ninja Program Card Tweaks To Make a Client Session Harder

These Ninja tweaks will give you clarity on how to make a client session harder on the spot and achieve progressive overload

In this blog, you’ll discover:

  • What is progressive overload?
  • Why progressive overload is not just about “going heavier”
  • The benefit of small but mighty powerful tweaks
  • The 10 Ninja Program Card Tweaks To Make a Client Session Harder
  • Three Mock Questions To Test Your Knowledge

What is Progressive Overload?

Firstly, let’s clarify progressive overload:

Progressive overload is a training principle whereby a gradual increase of the stress is placed upon the musculoskeletal and nervous system.”

The “stress” (or overload) allows for physiological adaptation and is the moment when the client achieves challenge, fatigue, or complete failure when training.

This overload/ stress creates micro-tears in the muscle fibres, which stimulates a greater regrowth. This is the adaptation required to make that stimulus easier next time.

Therefore the type “stress” that you apply to the muscle determines the adaptation that you get.

This is called the SAID principle:

“Specific Adaptation to an Imposed Demand”

This means that the demand you apply to the body, creates a specific adaptation.

So, if you change the demand or stress that you place on the body, you can get a different physiological adaptation from the same muscle.

^^read that again^^

Why progressive overload is not just about “going heavier”

Writing a training plan for a client session is not just a bunch of exercises and some randomly seslected variables. Based on the SAID principle (above) the variable you chose will create a specific adaptation.

That is exactly why you dont want to ALWAYS rely on resistance To Make a Client Session Harder.

“going heavier” will create the adaptation of “being stronger”, aka they’ll be able to lift a greater weight.

However, if their goal is to increase endurance, the required adaptation is to be able to withstand the stress for longer. So a variable that relates to time under tension or the number of reps would be more appropriate for the goal you have.

The benefit of small but mighty powerful tweaks

These 10 Ninja Program Card Tweaks To Make a Client Session Harder, will allow you to programme for progressive overload

over the long-term…

and mid-session

If your main focus of each session is to achieve progressive overload wit ha client, then you don’t want to wait until AFTER the session to make the changes.

Some changes can be made partway through the session, and even partway through the set to achieve overload.

This not only maximises the ability for you to achieve overload more often, but also to maximise client performance on every session.

This is why we call them Ninja Tweaks, as they are small but mighty powerful

So lets dive into the 10 tweaks…

10 Ninja Program Card Tweaks To Make a Client Session Harder

1 – Repetitions

Knowing the ideal rep range for your client’s goal is key to them getting the result they want. But within that rep range, you can add repetitions to a current working set to make it instantly harder.

At the end of the day, 12 repetition’s at 10kg is harder than 10 repetitions at 10kg

2 – Resistance

This is the most commonly used variable for progression. Add load and the session is instantly more challenging.

3 – Tempo

Under-rated and super simple…

Slow down the lowering (eccentric) phase of the movement to instantly make the rep harder. This creates more Time Under Tension, so the muscle has to work harder on each repetition

4 – Rest

Reducing the duration of the REST in between sets, or even in between sessions, is a great way to make the session harder. This encourages quicker recovery over adaptation

5 – Range of Movement

In some sessions you can gain more from keeping the resistance, tempo, and repetitions the same… but go deeper into the movement.

Take the squat for example, rather than adding extra resistance, try going lower but maintaining great technique.

6 – Number of sets (volume)

Volume is the biggest ninja tweak to get more results. Simply adding an additional set of an exercise compounds all the results you are getting, as you hit overload at least once more per exercise.

7 – Balance

Challenging motor skills is a variable that often gets forgotten about, and balance is a great place to start, whilst still achieving overload on the muscle.

For example, make a full press up more challenging with an unstable base under the hands, this could be as simple as a rolled-up towel or a kettlebell.

8 – Coordination

Another motor skill that can be easily challenged is coordination. This doesn’t mean that you need to include complex dance routines with your clients, but consider how you can add an additional joint action to challenge the movement a little more.

9 – Change Grip Position

The grip position can not only change the angle of the muscle being worked but also challenge the stabilizing muscles in a new way. i.e. a Wide grip pull up rather than a narrow grip

10 – Adjust stance

Changing the base of support is a simple mid-set tweak that can make ninja differences to muscle recruitment and balance.

For example narrower on the squat, or from split stance to neutral.

Test your knowledge with 3 Mock Questions

Having read our 10 Ninja Program Card Tweaks To Make a Client Session Harder, look at the three Mock questions below.

Jot down your answer on a scrap paper or as a note on your phone.

Then scroll down to reveal the answers.

1) What does the training principle, SAID stand for?

A. Some Adaptation In Demand
B. Specific Adaptation to an Integrated Demand
C. Some Adaptation In Duration
D. Specific Adaptation to an Imposed Demand

2) Which of the following would make a Press Up harder?

A. Fewer sessions per week
B. Reduce weight going through hands
C. Slower on the eccentric phase
D. Faster on the eccentric phase

3) Which term is used to express gradual increase of the stress is placed upon the musculoskeletal and nervous system?

A. Progressive Overload
B. Regression
C. Plateau
D. Specificity


Q1: Answer = D
Q2: Answer = C
Q3: Answer = A

If you want more mock questions like this, then you can download more Free Mock Questions: DOWNLOAD NOW

Progress as a FITPRO

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Plus you learn how to periodise your planning of these systems to allow for logical progressive overload so your client can get their goal every time.

>>>> Join us for FIT-Progressions here

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This is for you if you’re…

  • struggling to complete your coursework for PT, Yoga, or Pilates
  • a newly qualified FITPRO that feels stuck or overwhelmed
  • unsure where to start when planning a client session
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  • doubting you could get results and lack structure to client packages
  • anxious and confused about how to get found and get busy

Click the link to find out more and join us:

Dedicated to More

Hayley “Ninja Tweaks” Bergman

Parallel Coaching

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