I go back a few years now and I just had moved over from the west’s-magpies premier league rugby league side over to the st. George Illawarra dragons.
My specialty was supervising them in the gym whilst they did there weights and then I became the dreaded rehab Nazi.
Coming from a boxing and kick boxing background I would box those who could box till they were pucking in every direction, then give them some water and start again.
Those who couldn’t box would cycle, run, jump, or crawl. Anything to get there heart rate up. I would push them that hard that they would beg to play injured and join the rest of the squad. I can still remember times when a player would hurt himself, he was still been carried off the field, no diagnosis as of yet and hasn’t even put the ice pack on the injured spot and he would ask the doc or the physio the question,” EXCUSE ME, DOC OR FIZ, BUT DOES THIS MEAN I HAVE TO DO REHAB WITH JR, ANYTHING BUT REHAB WITH JR”

All this time I was following other peoples programs in the gym, me been me I would question everything, not to disrespect or to challenge but for the simple matter that I just wanted to learn.

I had been in the weight room since the age of 15 years old but only for body (beautiful) building purpose. No Olympic or strength knowledge at all.
But some great body building routines or I thought they were.

We would go through different phases in the gym, hypertrophy-strength-power-super setting-contrast. Did I question everything, I mean from sets, reps, techniquie, breathing, how high, how low, how far, and how come. I can still remember our strength and conditioner who was also the physio at the west’s magpies a man called Efrem Bunguric. Efrem along side of people like Ashley Jones, Ron Palmer, Mark Salmon and Paul ‘MARY’ McGregor were great inspiration and gave me the time to help shape me and my ideas about training.Efrem would see me coming and I could see it in his eyes, OH NO JR IS HERE, AND HE HAS A NOTE PAD.
To be honest I was that bad but I was blessed that Efrem was not only a very logical and rational man but he gave me a lot of time as I believe he saw I had a passion and willingness to want to learn. I learnt a lot from Efrem about training and injuries and treatment of those injuries. I also learnt a lot from him about doing certain exercises in the gym that could be used as a warm up that would stop a plenty of injuries.

I then left the west’s magpies as an opportunity at the dragon arose. Once again I would supervise the gym and work out torture methods for rehab.

As time went on I was then given the opportunity of taking on a squad was asked to put together a weights and conditioning program. I jumped at the chance of doing this.

HOLD ON… mean you want me to do a program by myself. I’ve wanted this for so long now I find myself in a little bit of a panic with a million thoughts and ideas racing through my head. How many days, exercises, how heavy, how light, what rep range, do they need to grow or get stronger or more powerful. Maybe I can do this or that, what if I changed this and that and put a whole new dimension to training and created a new era of strength training and conditioning…………PULL UP JOHN.
You’re making me and everyone around you dizzy.

Weeks of writing and crossing out exercises, sets and reps started. I had green groups at my door due to the amount of paper I was using. Then a thought passed my head-THE WHEEL IS ROUND AND HAS ALREADY BEEN INVENTED.

In those weeks of writing out different program I was seeking perfection. I wanted the perfect program. I sent an email to Ashley Jones about what I was going through and his response was so simple that it was calming. He explained to me that in his lifetime already he had designed hundreds of programs and each one changed and differed. It wasn’t about designing the perfect program cause there is no such holy grail, what there is ,is putting a program together that has the capacity to grow and change as seen fit and required. And most important what is it that you want to achieve.

I have headed this article as PROGRAM DESIGNING FOR AN AMATEUR LIKE ME, this is not to sarcastic in any way but I am an amateur compared to the greats like Ashley Jones, Dave Tate, Louie Simmons, Luke Borregine.

In saying this, let me put forward to you things that I have learnt on designing a program.

1.    What do you want to achieve from the program?
2.    Less is sometime’s more.
3.    Always heavy is not always good.
4.    Enrol and do an Olympic lifting course.
5.    What age group is the program for?
6.    The wheel has already been invented by people before us, learn from them.
7.    be open minded of different programs and techniques, there is a lot out there to learn from.
8.    Don’t be scared to ask questions, even the best do.
9.    Be opening minded about change if needed to the program.
10.    If it feels right then more than likely it is.
11.    Don’t just design, DO THE PROGRAM.
12.    Have confidence in your program.

If I could leave you on one thought it would be this;

Embrace and enjoy your training, as it will strengthen your body and your mind.

John Rahme

Started training at age of 13 years old, in a bodybuilding style. Competed in a few bodybuilding competitions. Trained in boxing and kickboxing and had a few fights. Started as rehab/gym supervisor in the year 2000 with the Wests Magpies premier league team. In 2003-2007, worked with the St. George Illawarra Dragons from the youngest grades to NRL. 2007- 2011- worked with boxers, tennis players, bodybuilders, sprinters, hockey teams and soccer players. 2012- current, working with the NRL Rabbitohs. I started off in training young at 13 years old. With the transfer in sport from bodybuilding to boxing and kickboxing, I learnt many more methods and styles in the gym. My biggest lessons learnt and greatest guidance came from Ashley Jones and still does. A very big believer in Westside barbell. Through the years of working with athletes, I studied, read books and attended seminars on the way our mind and thoughts work. Building a trust with the athlete I found myself in an almost daily conversation with an athlete about the mental aspect of training and also what was going on in their personal life. This led me to create my own style and plan on how to help them. ITS NOT THE ATHLETE I WAS CONCERNED WITH OR NEVER HAVE BEEN, ITS THE PERSON WHO THAT ATHLETE WAS. Look after the person, and the athlete will be just fine. Contact John here: John Rahme Australia: 0420820559 John is happy to help, please visit his site for more information. Website: or Email:

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