Writing Programs: More Than Just Random Exercises

John Durante Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Ask any new coach/trainer what one of the hardest things to learn is…almost within the same breath they will retort-programming! Theses sentiments towards programming are warranted. However, it does not have to be that difficult…

Practice Every Day

When we teach our trainers to write program at the gym, we start small. Show me that you can write one workout. From there we try to put a week together. Then, we progress to a full month with proper exercise order demonstrated. Upon further practice with these simple concepts, we will move to more specialized programs that are usually based on movement assessments done prior…

Point is? Practice every single day. Does your mom want to get into shape? Write her a program…Does your room mate want to get a bigger squat? Write him a program. You can teach yourself a lot about what works and what does not by having people run different programs of yours. If you do the same thing multiple times per day, every day, you are bound to get better at it.

Work With Everyone

This one is simple…Everyone want to be the coach that works with athletes and gets the credit for their success. The fault in this is the populous in which you draw from…the overwhelming majority of people seeking personal training are general population clients. I would argue that they need you as a coach the most…

Working with these clients will expose you to a wide variety of working conditions. You will have people that are: post rehab, older, younger, power lifters, or just looking to lose weight. Each presents with their own unique situations that are going to require different programming styles…

Have a Free Evening? Write a Program…

Just because you do not have clients that need programs at the movement, does not mean you cannot practice. When I have free time at home, I create fake intake and movement assessments for them and write a program based on their hypothetical needs. When you have a client present to the gym with unique limitations, you will know how to structure their program accordingly…

Load Variances

Exercise selection is important. However, picking out exercises that simply do not hurt is not good enough. We want to elicit adaptations with our programming. We can achieve this with load variances.

Sets & Reps Intensity Rest Period Adaptation
3 x 10 50% 30-60 sec Motor Learning
3 x 10 70-75 % 60-90 sec Hypertrophy
3x 10 70-75% 2-3 Min Strength Matienence
4 x 5-6 80-85% 2-3 Min Strength Increase
5 x 3 88-90% 3 -4 Min Max Strength
5 x 5+ 60-70% 3-5 Min Power (Speed)

One exercise can do all of these things if you follow the above parameters…Switching things up constantly to force adaption does not work… You need to be able to do the whole thing: run comprehensive assessments for exercise selection, then load for effect.


Practice, practice, practice. If you want to get better at something, you need to do it every day. If you want to help your clients achieve their goals, you need to practice the things that are going to help them. Your programs are not going to be perfect and they do not have to be. Think about writing a program that is going to help that client achieve a specific goal. Focus on this and you will be successful.

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