In the world of exercise physiology and science, there are four levels of training – Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Elite. These levels represent the trainee’s ability to recover from workouts and adapt to the stress levels imposed on them by their training. Everyone who starts on a good strength training protocol will be a novice, even if they’ve bench pressed and curled a lot in their past. The amount of stress needed to produce an adaptation for a novice trainee is small enough that they can recover from in it 48 hours. They progress from workout to workout and require very basic programming.
Nearly everyone that I train has been a novice, and as such, they are all put on very similar programming. All novice trainees at Driveline Baseball will follow a program similar to Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength program with concessions and adaptations for baseball players (example: substituting dumbbell bench press for barbell bench press).
All trainees will definitely perform some variant of the following exercises: Squat, Overhead Press, Bench Press, Deadlift, Row, and Chin-Ups/Pull-Ups. As an example of a squat variant, most of the pitchers will use the front squat, as this is a lot easier on the shoulders than the traditional back squat. Additionally, all trainees will perform some sort of Rate of Force Development exercise – speed squats, deadlifts, power cleans, power snatches, medball cleans, medball slams, and so forth.
In personal training, it’s very important to fit the programming to the individual. However, it’s also important to note that all novices are virtually the same when it comes to programming needs – they all require basic compound-lift-centric programming that they can recover from within 48 hours. Novices can recover quickly and make rapid gains, and to waste this precious time in the training cycle would be a grave error.
Concessions for individuals can be made based on sport-specific and anatomical needs – substituting the front squat for the back squat, for example – but trainers should never lose focus on the end goal: Rapid gains throughout the compound lifts that make up the majority of the program.
So, to answer this blog post’s question – Are all novices the same? – the answer is “Yes. For the most part.”