Fitness Programming

“What do you guys write in those things?” one of my clients asked in regards to their program journals. If you are new to the gym, a program may seem like a complex mathematical formula with reps, sets, weight numbers, and exercises, BUT, it is actually pretty straight forward once you understand it’s structure. In this post, we’ll cover the pieces that make-up a program (NOTE: not all programs work this way but this is what is most common):

  1. Release
  2. Warm-Up
  3. Power
  4. Strength
  5. Conditioning
  6. Cool Down

Release

Releasing stiff areas of the body after sitting or standing from a long day will create less tension and relaxed muscles. Using a foam roller, tennis or lacrosse ball, or another piece of equipment can assist with toning down those cranky areas to not feel as tight when exercising (Examples of release work: Video #1, Video #2).

Warm-Up

After releasing, a warm-up involving dynamic stretches can be implemented to prepare the body for the workout by doing the following:

  • Increase body temperature
  • Practice movements that are in your program
  • Prime the mobility you have
  • Preparing your brain for the intended session

Click on the link for an example of a short, but effective warm-up: Stationary Warm-Up

Power

Some examples of power drills can be medicine ball throws, jumps, short sprints, and Olympic lifts such as cleans or snatches. These exercises involve fast movements at a lower rep scheme. Because these are intense movements, they are best performed after your release and warm-up because you will be fresh and ready. As we age, we tend to lose the capacity to perform power so be sure to ask your coach or trainer for some power work that is suitable for your training level.

Strength

Strength training (if this is your goal) will probably take up the bulk of your program. There are many examples of training strength such as increasing the reps or sets, increasing the load, or changing the rest period. Along with these changes, you can also configure the tempo work (time it takes to perform one repetition) and complexity of an exercise. An example of progressing the complexity of an exercise is say you were performing a 1 kettle bell racked squat for 4 weeks and wanted to make it more difficult, you could grab another kettle bell and now perform the same movement but with 2 kettle bells racked.

If you look at the chart below, you can see that the number of reps increased per week. This is another way to work on strength training:

Week Sets Reps Rest
1 3 6 40-60 sec
2 3 8 40-60 sec
3 3 10 40-60 sec
4 3 12 40-60 sec

Conditioning

This part of your program is working on increasing your heart rate at various intensities. Depending on the goal you may use different methods of conditioning. One example is interval training where you can utilize a piece of cardio equipment for a set number of seconds at a high intensity to then lower the intensity for another set number of seconds and repeat in that same order for a set number of rounds such as 10 seconds on and 20 seconds off on a bike for 8 rounds. Another example can be long steady-state work where you can perform a certain exercise for a longer time frame such as step-ups for 10 to 30 minutes.

Cool Down

The final part of a program is a cool down to return to a normal resting state. This can involve, static stretches, breathing drills, stretches, or very low intensity work such as an easy walk on a treadmill or moderate pedal on a bike.

Wrapping It All Up

After reading this, you should have a better idea of what a program provides and the structure of how it is laid out. Whether it is strength, weight loss, athletic performance, or simply feeling better, all these goals will follow a similar structure. Here’s a snapshot of a mock program(sorry for the chicken scratch which is my handwriting):

If you are interested in purchasing a journal like the one we use at CLIENTEL3, send us an email here.

If you want to learn more about programming, feel free to reach out to me at danny@cleintel3.com. Also, if you are looking to start a new program and would like experienced coaches to provide you a well developed plan towards your goals and needs, come visit CLIENTEL3 in Boston or contact us at info@clientel3.com.

Stay strong and have fun!