Simple Tips For Program Design

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Do you ever get these questions from your clients?

  • Is High Intensity Training the way to go?


  • Or is Long, Slow Distance Training better?


  • What cardio exercise brings the best results – is it cycling, rowing, running or something else?


  • What muscle conditioning workouts enhance overall fitness best – is it Bootcamp classes, Barre, Yoga, Pilates or traditional weight training?


If someone decides to get fit and commit to an exercise program, there are a ton of options. It can feel like a kid in a candy store so to speak. That is where you (as a fitness professional come in!). As you know….there’s only so much time in a week so how do you choose what to prescribe to your clients? And how do you explain your reasoning behind doing so?

Here are a couple reminders the best ways to design programming for your clients. Use these tips on your own and share them curious clients.

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  • The best program is one that your clients will actually DO! So if they hate running and will have a difficult time adhering to a running program, then help them choose something else as  primary activity. Design a program that incorporates fitness activities that bring your clients some enjoyment. Ask them whether they would rather exercise in a group or solo. Do they enjoy being outdoors or indoors? Choose an activity(s) that they will have an easier time sticking to.


  • Be sure that their program incorporates all primary fitness components including cardio, muscle and flexibility/mobility. Based on time constraints for most people, combining activities will be important. For example, you might suggest they take a class that incorporates muscle and cardio drills so they can check off two fitness components in one workout. You might suggest that they perform 3 cardio workouts and 2 muscle conditioning workouts each week and perform some stretching/mobility work after each workout to hit all 3 important fitness components


  • Within each cardio and/or muscle conditioning workout, be sure your clients are training all energy systems. So for example, if they love to cycle, suggest that they go long and slow for one ride, another go short and fast and another go for a moderate length and intensity. If your clients only perform high intensity training, their endurance and stamina will suffer. If they only perform slow distance training, their speed will suffer. For muscle conditioning, ask they to go heavy and less reps for one workout and lower resistance, higher reps for another workout, which will condition both their muscular strength and endurance.


  • Mix it up. If you notice all the activities a client’s program is linear – like cycling, running, swimming, squats, push ups – include some activities that get them moving through different planes and angles – like participating in a sport like soccer or volleyball once per week, taking a choreographed dance class, or choosing some strength and cardio exercises that have your client move laterally or through rotation. 


  • Remember that every type of fitness discipline will provide specific benefits but typically there will be other areas that are being neglected that you’ll need to address during a different type of workout with your client.

Bottom line – there is no perfect way to move our bodies. The human body is a complex piece of machinery and if anyone wants their body to function optimally, they’ll need to train and condition it in a variety of different ways.

Yours in health, fitness & business,
Sherri McMillan

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