The OPT model is based on the scientific rationale of human movement science. Each stage has a designated purpose that provides the client with a systematic approach for progressing toward his or her individual goals, as well as addressing his or her specific needs. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that health and fitness professionals fully understand all components of programming as well as the right order in which those components must be addressed to help their clients achieve success.

Phases of Training
The OPT model is divided into three different levels of training — stabilisation, strength and power. Each level contains specific phases of training. It is imperative that the health and fitness professional understands the scientific rationale behind each level and each individual phase of training to properly use the OPT model.

Stabilisation Level
The Stabilisation Level focusses on the consists of – Stabilisation Endurance Training. The main focus of this form of training is to increase muscular endurance and stability while developing optimal neuromuscular efficiency (coordination). The progression for this level of training is proprioceptive. This means the difficulty level is increased by introducing a greater challenge to the balance and stabilisation systems of the body (versus simply increasing the load).

For example, a client may begin by performing a push-up and then progress by performing the same exercise using a stability ball. This progression requires additional activation from the nervous system and the stabilising muscles of the shoulders and trunk to maintain optimal posture while performing the exercise.

Stabilisation and neuromuscular efficiency can only be obtained by having the appropriate combination of proper alignment (posture) of the human movement system (kinetic chain) and the stabilisation strength necessary to maintain that alignment. Stabilisation training provides the needed stimuli to acquire stabilisation and neuromuscular efficiency with proprioceptively enriched exercises and progressions. The goal is to increase the client’s ability to stabilise the joints and maintain optimal posture. It must be noted that stabilisation training must be done before strength and power training.

Research has shown that inefficient stabilisation can negatively affect the way force is produced by the muscles, increase stress at the joints, overload the soft tissues, and, eventually, cause injury.

Stabilisation Endurance Training not only addresses the existing structural deficiencies, it may also provide a superior way to alter body composition (reduce body fat) because all the exercises are typically performed in a circuit fashion (short rest periods) with a high number of repetitions (11–13). By performing exercises in a proprioceptively enriched environment (controlled, unstable), the body is forced to recruit more muscles to stabilise itself. In doing so, more calories are potentially expended.

Goals and Strategies of Stabilisation Level Training
» Improve muscular endurance
» Enhance joint stability
» Increase flexibility
» Enhance control of posture
» Improve neuromuscular efficiency (balance, stabilisation, muscular
coordination)

Training Strategies
» Training in unstable, yet controllable environments
» Low loads, high repetitions

Strength Level
The Strength Level of training follows the successful completion of stabilisation training. The emphasis is to maintain stabilisation endurance while increasing prime mover strength. This is also the level of training an individual will progress to if his or her goals are hypertrophy (increasing muscle size) or maximal strength (lifting heavy loads). The Strength Level in the OPT model consists of three phases.

In Phase 2: Strength Endurance Training, the goal is to enhance stabilisation endurance while increasing prime mover strength. These two adaptations are accomplished by performing two exercises in a superset sequence (or back-to-back without rest) with similar joint dynamics. The first exercise is a traditional strength exercise performed in a stable environment (such as a bench press), whereas the second exercise is a stabilisation exercise performed in a less stable (yet controllable) environment (such as a stability ball push-up).

Phase 3: Hypertrophy Training is designed for individuals who have the goal of maximal muscle growth (such as bodybuilders).

Goals
» Achieve optimal levels of muscular hypertrophy (increase muscle size)

Training Strategies
» High volume, moderate to high loads, moderate or low repetitions (6–12)

Phase 4: Maximal Strength Training works toward the goal of maximal prime mover strength by lifting heavy loads. These two phases of training can be used as special forms of training and as progressions within Strength Level Training.

Goals
» Increase motor unit recruitment
» Increase frequency of motor unit recruitment
» Improve peak force

Training Strategies
» High loads, low repetitions (1–5), longer rest periods

Goals and Strategies of Strength Level Training
» Improve stabilisation endurance and increase prime mover strength
» Improve overall work capacity
» Enhance joint stabilisation
» Increase lean body mass

Training Strategies
» Moderate loads and repetitions (8–12)
» Superset: one traditional strength exercise and one stabilisation exercise per body part in the resistance training portion of the programme

Power Level
The Power Level of training should only be entered after successful completion of the Stabilisation and Strength Levels. This level of training emphasises the development of speed and power. This is achieved through one phase of training simply named Phase 5: Power Training.
The premise behind this phase of training is the execution of a traditional strength exercise (with a heavy load) superset with a power exercise (with a light load performed as fast as possible) of similar joint dynamics. This is to enhance prime mover strength while also improving the rate of force production.

Goals and Strategies of Power Level Training
» Enhance neuromuscular efficiency
» Enhance prime mover strength
» Increase rate of force production

Training Strategies
» Superset: one strength and one power exercise per body part in the resistance training portion of the programme
» Perform all power exercises as fast as can be controlled

We hope you found this article helpful but if you have any questions, please do get in touch.

The Fitness Focus Team

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