The Hierarchy Of Programming Strength: Tapering Multi to Single Joint Movements

The Hierarchy Of Programming Strength: Tapering Multi to Single Joint Movements

By: Brandon Richey, B.S.,CSCS

Owner: Brandon Richey Fitness LLC

When it comes to programming an effective strength and conditioning plan many people that are interested in the process simply don’t know where to start. Given the fact that there are many different modalities of training such as power-lifting, bodybuilding, calisthenics, etc. the options for being able to create an actual plan of action are plentiful…and as a result this can often create more confusion than solutions for many when it comes to actually formulating a plan of action.

Recognizing Your Needs

Before doing anything in regards to planning out an intelligent training program either for yourself, or others you’ve first got to be willing to recognize your needs. Now to be specific this means two things. This means being able to recognize your own personal needs, as well as the needs of your sport, recreation, or own personal pursuits. For instance, you may be wanting to pursue power-lifting, but if you are incapable of performing a standard squat with quality and satisfaction then you can’t expect to go and get up under a bar to start hitting super heavy PR’s. Obviously there are other fundamental needs that must be addressed prior to doing this which is why you must be willing to recognize your most immediate needs.

In addition to this there may be other needs that have a bearing on you pursuing your goals that relate to other external factors as well such as the availability of equipment and space. Before doing anything you’ve first got to be capable of creating a path from where you are in your present situation.

Multi And Single Joint Movement

In addition to recognizing your needs and your resources the next step in looking to design an effective strength and conditioning plan is starting out with the basics. Getting a handle on fundamental movements such as squats, push ups, pull ups, and presses are a solid start to getting your program on track. Forget about making the model complex. When it comes to developing a sound strength and conditioning program you want to look at getting down the fundamentals and structuring your model around that in order to move forward with obtaining some sound results.

In doing this one way you can derive some big success in making some serious gains in lean muscle, strength, and mobility is building a model that involves the process of tapering. I’ll expand on the concept of tapering a little later in the article.  You see, when it comes to lifting and movement you basically function by performing various tasks with either multi-joint, or single joint movements. These movements are defined pretty much the way the name describes them. Multi-joint movements are movements that incorporate the actions of more than one joint and single joint movements incorporate the actions of only a single joint.

To give you a concrete example of this a squat would be a multi-joint movement as the hips, knees, and even ankles are involved in the dynamic portion of the action. A good example of a single joint action would be a bicep curl where only the elbow is involved in the dynamic action of the movement. Now knowing this we can now create a strength and conditioning model by applying the concept of tapering to the planning of our strength and conditioning program.

Tapering Your Strength

Tapering essentially involves the process of executing more intense movement to less intense movements throughout the duration of your training. This is the best practice for getting the most out of your work output for each training session.


An example of this would be that you would perform more of your multi-joint movements in the beginning of your training session and as you move towards the end of your training you start incorporating the single joint movements into the session to finish out. In addition to performing multi-joint movements, in the beginning other less intense multi-joint movements may also be introduced as intensity can be tapered down as well.

An example here would be that after performing heavier multi-joint lifting movements in the beginning of your workout you might want to include some less intense multi-joint activity that stresses a different energy system such as calisthenics. This would involve doing jumping jacks, or grinding through a couple of 2 to 3 minute rounds of jump rope.

In Closing

The point is that if you’re going to develop a solid plan for training and getting your body into peak shape you need to understand how to structure your workouts in order to get the most of what equipment and resources you have available to you. In addition to this you also need to be capable in the adjustment and emphasis of the intensity involving your training.

If you are unable to taper big multi-joint lifts such as bench presses and barbell back squats because of a lack of equipment then you simply taper the body weight push ups, squats, and pull ups down to other single joint movements with less intensity in terms of load, as well as involving light calisthenics.

If you implement this simple strategy you’ll be well on your way to making some serious gains in your workouts. The key is to be both smart and consistent.

To learn more about Brandon Richey and his online coaching programs check him out at

If you’re interested in either getting Brandon’s Online Coaching program at a discounted rate, or ordering Cobrazol Sport for yourself and getting Brandon’s Online Coaching Program for Free then make sure you click here.


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