How to Write a Fitness Program

There are two areas that I see fitness trainers struggle with the most; marketing and program design. I am far from a marketing expert, so today I’m going to lay a foundation of how to put together a program.

As Simon Sinek has said very plainly, the greats always “start with why.”Why Program

The common “Whys” in program design include:

A) Helping the athlete…
-Lose Fat
-Build Muscle
-Increase Strength/Power
-Increase Flexibility (Mobility, really, but that is a conversation for another day)

B) GREAT coaches will also program to…
-Reduce risk of injury
-Reduce chance of boredom (I didn’t always give this component its due course.)

Injury and Boredom are by far the 2 biggest barriers to long term consistency. Long term consistency is the most important part of fitness and health success.

The first thing to decide is time investment on the part of the athlete. How many hours per week will they commit toward the goal?

Let’s focus on the 90% of exercisers and look at how to plan 1-3 full body workouts per week. I highly recommending hitting all of the following patterns in equal amounts (giving a slight edge to pulling) on any given week:

1) Upper Push (horizontal and vertical)
2) Upper Pull (horizontal and vertical)
3) Lower Push (1 and 2 leg)
4) Lower Pull (1 and 2 leg)
5) Core (static and dynamic)
6) Twist (power, dynamic, mobility)

As I mentioned above, emphasize lower pulling and upper pulling. This will help prevent common imbalances between the front and often-ignored back side of the body, which can cause injury over time.

From here there are several options structurally, but always keep the following in mind:

1) Progress toward goal (effectiveness)
Fairly simple if we are looking at the common goals we looked at above: Use lots of muscles, to work against resistance (any type) in a wide range of rep schemes (low, medium, high), through the full range of motion.

2) Manage time (efficiency)
Achieved with supersets, pairing multiple exercises together–including mobility exercises

3) Manage fatigue
Accomplished by supersetting non-competing movements (movements that do not fatigue the same muscle groups), splicing mobility training in between strength work, and following the 80% rule.

4) Prevent Injury and Boredom
One of the more nebulous ones, but can be achieved through novel stimuli (exercise variations, adding a balance or visual challenge). Coincidentally, having a greater array of skills is both injury preventative and boredom reducing.

To recap, have a reason “Why” for every single exercise you do. No junk exercises, no junk reps. Continue to do these things over the long term and I can guarantee your success when it comes to this thing we call fitness.

Better every day,

ps. If you are ready to dig in deeper, I cover program design in detail in my Ultimate Athleticism Book and Workshops

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2 thoughts on “How to Write a Fitness Program

  • Susan Thomas

    Amen!! Sinek’s why. I am the founder of a fat loss program. I market it through FB. It went from a single post to over 600 coaches, all by word of mouth, in 4 years. Focus on “the why”