Program Design for Personal Trainers - 3 Tips

Program Design for Personal Trainers - 3 Tips

Knowing what to include in your client’s program can be difficult. With so many different sources of information out there it can be tough to differentiate fad from fact, but this is what separates fitness professionals from enthusiasts.

Here are three timeless principles that you can use to design better programs today.

3 Simple Tips for Designing Better Programs

Assess Don’t Guess

Tip #1: Assess don’t guess.

Before you can begin working with a new client, you first have to conduct an assessment.

The assessment is crucial because it looks at the body and its history. It gives you as a coach an understanding of your client’s current status. Once you understand the client’s current level of fitness, skill, or whatever you may be training, you can set a realistic goal and plan how you will use resistance training to reach this goal.

(Coach’s Resource: OPEX Fitness is the brainchild of program design guru and industry-leading educator James FitzGerald. Learn our principles of individual program design in this free coaching course.)

Individualize Your Program Based on Ability

Tip #2: Everybody is different, always individualize your program design.

This piggybacks off of Tip #1, the assessment, once you understand your client you will have a better idea of their ability to physically adapt.

Understanding your client’s ability to physically adapt will directly affect your program. New clients will perform movement patterns more often than experienced clients and have different sets and reps.

If your client is new to fitness their ability to physically adapt will be great and they should perform full-body workouts.

If your client has a solid base of fitness (has accumulated hundreds of reps over time) their ability to physically adapt will be less, so they will need a more specific program.

In order to create a program that will reach your client’s goals, you have to keep their ability to physically adapt in mind and program accordingly. This is called creating progressions, learn how to create successful progressions here.  


Example of physical adaptation:

Beginner – 0 to 5 pushups in 2 weeks
Intermediate – 21 to 24 pushups in 6 month
Advanced – 35 to 36 pushups in 1 year (fractional gains)


Follow the Strength Continuum

Tip #3: Development must follow the Strength Continuum. A time-tested strength and conditioning theory.

The Strength Continuum

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The Strength Continuum states that you must build a base of absolute strength before you can move along the Strength Continuum.

Let’s take box jumps for example. If a client wants to do box jumps OPEX Coaches require that they be able to squat at least one repetition of their body weight. This is an example of the absolute strength requirement needed for box jumps. This requirement ensures the client is capable of controlling the body while in motion and preventing injury.

Keep the Strength Continuum in mind when creating progressions for your clients and make sure to build a foundation of absolute strength.

To be successful in the fitness industry you need a base level of competency in business skills, assessment and consultation practices, individual program design, and writing holistic nourishment programs.

Thankfully, these skills can be learned. Sign up for our free Professional Coaching Blueprint today and learn the basics of the OPEX System of Coaching, and join more than 10,000 OPEX coaches worldwide as a truly professional coach.

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