Below article was originally a presentation that I did in our weekly ‘Coach the Coach’ session in Innerfight. I thought I would re-write a bit and turn it into an article as I hope that this can help you build up your programming better for yourself and your clients.
The purpose of this article/presentation.
How to create a more thoughtful, organized and well-structured programming for personal training/group training/remote coaching.
Promote awareness and mindfulness when creating programming.
Understanding that programming is an art.
Structure in training
Below text will take you through the thought-process that I go through when I create the individualized programs for my personal training clients, online clients and group programs. It will explain some of the methods, systems and thoughts that goes into creating what I believe to be an effective training program.
Step 1. Figure out the purpose and the goal of the client(s).
~What are they trying to achieve?
(We don’t need to talk about their ‘why’ at his stage, as that is supposedly already assessed, and we can now purely focus on how we as coaches can help them achieve their goal in the most effective way.)
The purpose/Goal of the client will dictate the buildup of the program.
Step 2. Get to know your clients.
~What do they do for a living? What’s their family situation like? How many hours a day can they train? How’s their sleep? How’s their nutrition? How’s their stress levels? Generally, get a good understanding of their habits, as this will determine their drive and available output. It will furthermore give you a good idea of how to build the ‘skeleton’ for their training structure which is ‘Step 3’ in my process.
Getting to know your clients can happen through a skype call or a 1on1 meeting. This is critical in building a relationship, which is a whole other topic, that we go in depth with another time. This is your chance to get to know them, and once they have opened up to you, you have automatically created a bond of trust. Trust is what makes them buy into your program and training philosophy. #TrustTheProcess
Step 3. Skeleton/Macro overview
~Creating a rough draft / Roadmap to figure out the best approach to accomplish the goal.
(Especially) For clients trying to peak for a specific event it could be beneficial to create a yearlong plan. When it comes to the regular gym members, a month to month approach/overview would still work fine.
This is almost like working backwards or we can also call the “Funnel” method. There are many ways to set it up, I prefer to do it as a ’timeline’. You start by writing in your client’s goal and when he/she will achieve it. (Nothing is set in stone here, you are simply trying to create an overview). From there you divide the timeline into blocks. These blocks are training phases/cycles that each will have a specific focus.
Step 4. Training phases/cycles/Blocks/Periodization (or whatever you want to call it)
I prefer creating 4-6 week blocks as they are easy to manage, track progress, overview and assess if things are working or not. Progress is one of the major components in keeping clients inside the business and therefore we as fitness professionals not only need to make sure that they get results, but also make sure that they KNOW that they are getting better.
Also, generally people are extremely impatient, and its therefore key to provide results as quick as possible. If you can almost guarantee them that they will see progress within 4-6 weeks, you are able to keep them fully engaged/motivated throughout each block.
Step 5. How to build up a training block?
~Have in mind that this can be extremely individual, but here is a general approach that I think could work in most case/scenarios:
Step 1. Test phase (Test the clients before you start training them properly, as you want to see where they are at. Not only is it important for you to know their level in order to deliver the proper amount of training volume and intensity, it is equally important that they realize where they are currently at.)
Step 2. Progressive load/volume/intensity (Once we have assessed their base/current level, I like to use a 3-4 week ‘progressive overload’. We know that ‘load’/’stress’ is what causes adaption. No one knows the best formula to create progress/solid adaptions in order to improve, but there are a few simple methods that I like to use and that I have seen work over and over again.
The principle of progressive overload is simple: You want to apply a stimulus greater than the body is used to on a regular basis in order to achieve the desired results, whether that is strength or endurance.
A program/training routine has certain variables that we can adjust in order to create this overload: Reps, Volume, Rest, Load, Sets, Movements, Range of motion. (These will need to be adjusted specifically to the client’s target)
If we use a “progressive overload” approach when we for example want a client to get stronger in his/her Backsquat, it could look like this:
*(Russian squat cycle)
Step 3. Re-test.
~After your Progressive overload phase or build up phase, you want to finish off with a re-test, in order to verify/falsify your hypothesis/program/intended results.
Providing clients with results is one of the most important factors in a trainer’s ability to maintain clients and therefore the program must be set up to win.
Always have in mind here that the clients progress is not solely determined by the training stimulus, things such as genetics, nutrition, sleep, stress etc. can equally play an as important role.
Step 4. Deload
~Giving the body time to adapt to the training stimulus that you have provided.
Below graph explains the simple concept of how the body adapts:
Step 6. Specifics
~What goes into the training block?
Obviously, this is EXTREMELY individual and I will therefore briefly touch base on it. Below I’ve mentioned a few things that I think are important to have in mind when you program (Intensity/volume):
-Push (For example: High volume vs Low volume / High skill vs Low skill / High intensity vs Low intensity)
Why is that important?
Well it is first of all important tohave thought about above in order to keep clients from getting injured due to overload of the same mechanics, and generally keep them on the path to succeed.
-How many times will my client squat this week?
-How many times will they go overhead?
Sometimes we make unconscious decisions and this can have some serious results when repeated several times.
Step 7. Pay attention to the detail
Last few things to have in mind:
Pay attention to how your client ‘Feel’ -Soreness, Fatigue, Irritability, Hunger, Energy level, Mood, Sleep quality, Motivation, Training quality AND adapt/adjust the program accordingly.
Being aware about above “feelings” are essential in order to understand why or why not your clients are doing well. As a fitness professional, I think it’s essential to assess your clients asking these questions regularly. Everyday Kyle Ruth, my personal coach, make me answer these questions and I have found it to be very effective as we can keep me on top of my game.