Improve Your Program Design Prowess

Improve Your Program Design Prowess

Improve your program design prowess by mastering the 3 Ps

Have you ever created a training program for a client, who then follows through and diligently executes their sessions, but at the end of it their improvements are a lot smaller than you both had hoped for? Or worse still, your client end ups with some nagging chronic pain in their shoulder that wasn’t there before?

Or at the very least, do you find you spend way too much time at your computer trying to design the right training plan for a particular client? And certainly, too much time agonizing about it, wondering if what you threw together is going to help them improve their back squat? 

All this time and effort and still you end frustrated because you know you could be a lot more efficient with your own time in helping your clients achieve their goals. If only you had a more structured system in place.

You are not alone. 

And this is where the OPEX 3 Ps come in: Understanding and mastering these three steps will give you the tools to strategically and efficiently design programs that prepare your clients for not just short-term performance gains, but more importantly, for long-term success.

Implementing the 3 Ps made all the difference for long-time coach Henry Torano, an OPEX CCP coach and the owner of Aggressive Fitness in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“It takes time (to learn them). But once I used these techniques, I became way more efficient on a week-to-week basis. They keep me honest,” Torano said of the 3 Ps. “I simply do not see how a training design could possibly be efficient without (using) them.”

What are the 3 Ps?

  1. Prioritize
  2. Plan
  3. Periodize

Once you start to understand the nuances of prioritizing, planning and periodizing, program design will become less of a guessing game and more of a competency you now have to design progressive, personalized, and effective programs for your clients.

1. Prioritize: 

This goes beyond just figuring out your client’s priorities and goals. It’s essentially the first step in writing the program and it starts with a testing phase that helps you analyze and assess your client’s current abilities, including their relative strengths and weaknesses. 

This objective testing data gives you insight into what this client’s training priorities should be. Obviously there are various areas the client could stand to improve on, but the idea here is to prioritize the most important ones.

The OPEX Assessment includes a coach-client consultation, body composition analysis, movement screening, and work capacity assessment. That being said, the depth of this assessment depends on the client, their background, their goals (i.e. are they a lifestyle client or a competitive athlete?).

Torano added: “A coach must establish priorities to order sessions, weekly splits, and training phases. What are you trying to improve?”

Check out this free download and accompanying video by OPEX CEO Carl Hardwick for a case study of what this process looks like.

2. Planning:

The planning phase includes sitting down with your client and talking about what it will take for them to reach their goals. Then you can start to plan how you will factor in not just their goals, but also their schedule, their nutritional needs and their lifestyle to help them get where they are today to where they want to go.

“Planning sets the tone for implementation. What? When? How much?” Torano explained.

3. Periodization:

This is where you get to have a little fun, kind of like a chef in a kitchen concocting all sorts of new and delicious recipes. 

In your case, you finally get to start building out your client’s training blocks that fit within the plan you came up within the planning phase.

Depending on the client, the pieces of the puzzle involve various phases, including accumulation (where the focus is on building volume, skills and technical abilities), intensification (where volume decreases but intensity increases), pre-competition, competition and deload.

Torano added: “Periodization brings it full circle as it orders training volume, intensities, rest and testing periods.”

Again, refer to Carl Hardwick’s video and download the avatar guide for more insight on what this looks like in practice:

Of course, the 3 P’s are just the tip of the iceberg…

Want to learn more about program design? Download our free Professional Coaching Blueprint and get introduced to the OPEX System of Coaching.


Fitness Assessments for New Clients