How to Create a Long-Term Training Plan with Periodization

How to Create a Long-Term Training Plan with Periodization

If you're a fitness coach, we know you want to give your clients the best training programs and ensure they get results. Knowing what's best can be confusing, so coaches work with us to feel confident in their plans and deliver smarter programs.

One of the biggest mistakes we see coaches make is focusing on the short-term only. Writing quality programs isn’t just about today’s workout—you have to be able to see the future and understand how training today will equal results a year from now. You have to first zoom out and consider where the program you’re writing sits inside of a long-term plan. 

This is periodization. 

While periodization has long been applied to athletes with competitive seasons, principles of long-term planning can and should be applied to all clients, even those training for general health. To ensure daily workouts are actually progressing your clients towards their long-term goals and not just making them sweaty, it’s important to block out phases of training.

As well as providing you with a blueprint for volume and intensity to program, long-term planning is also beneficial for your clients. Trust, patience, and connection are all built when the client has insight into the direction of their hard work.

Periodization doesn’t have to be overly complicated. In fact, the smartest plans are often the simplest ones, and we teach coaches just that. Let’s cover a little bit of periodization 101 to help you see how simple long-term planning can really be.

Phases of training include:

  • Accumulation - Building volume, skills, and technical ability.
  • Intensification - Decreasing the volume of training and increasing intensity.
  • Pre-Competition - Simulating the structure of a competition.
  • Competition - The act of competing.
  • Deload - Time off post-competition specifically for recovery. 

Most of these phases don’t actually apply to the general population client, as they’re not training for a competition. Yes, planning can get complex when you’re working with athletes peaking for specific events, but 95% of clients won’t even touch pre-competition or competition phases.


Here’s an example of what long-term planning could look like for an intermediate client who is training for balanced fitness and wants to see improvements in strength and aerobic capacity:

Plan map

When an OPEX Coach sits down with their client after conducting an assessment and initial consultation, they will lay out a long-term plan similar to this one (in fact, many coaches will whiteboard this process with their client). 

Not only does this keep their program design on track as the months go by, it also creates connection for the client between what they’re doing in the gym and their fitness goals. 

We all know that the clients who know why they’re doing what they’re doing are the ones that stick around, so long-term planning is a key strategy for retention as well as program design!

In the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP), you’ll learn the complete OPEX Method, so you can assess, plan, and design smarter long-term programs to get all of your clients the lasting results they deserve. To learn more about becoming an elite coach, click the button below and download the CCP Curriculum Guide. 

Download the curriculum guide
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