Coaches and fitness enthusiasts:  If you plan to create a fitness program, there are some important elements that you must consider. Admittedly, each of these topics could use their own article (don’t worry, we’ll get there soon).  

While there is no one-size fits-all approach, here are a few of the factors that we consider crucial to the exercise programming process.

Program Goal

This one may seem obvious, but as coaches, we often neglect specifying a goal.  ‘Losing weight’ or ‘getting stronger’ are not enough.  ‘Adding 15 lbs to my bench press in 8 weeks’ is a legitimate goal.  

Also, you must ASK your clientele what it is that they want.  Don’t continually serve up programs that people aren’t interested in.  When it comes down to it, program adherence will be better if your client(s) feel that they are involved in your process and their feedback is valued.

Energy Systems

We know there are three energy systems:  phosphagen, glycolytic, and oxidative.  Each energy system has a different purpose, different exercises that tap into that system, and different resources required by the body in order to function in that system.  Essentially, as coaches, we need to focus on our clients’ goals.  It is our job to determine which energy systems they should be working in and how to do so safely and effectively.

Exercise Selection

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but there are already 750 exercises in the Milo Exercise Database at the time of writing this article.  There are a near infinite combination of exercises, sets, reps, intensity, rest, etc.  Our job as coaches is to be able to distill this information down and effectively program exercises and movements through evidence-based selection.  When programming, I like to ask myself, “What is the outcome of this exercise and why is it important in this program?”

Exercise Order

Just as important as the selection of exercises, the order is a fundamental building block of a great program.  Exercises are oftentimes not ordered properly and we sacrifice performance because of it.  Remember the goal of the overall program, or even more specifically, the individual workout.  The order of exercises lead toward the goal of the workout before addressing any other auxiliary goals.  

Planes of Motion

Planes of motion is an overlooked component of a lot of programs.  We have the tendency to move predominantly in the sagittal plane.  However, our muscles, joints, and supporting structures thank us when we move the body as a unit in all three dimensions.  I think there are tremendous benefits to moving in the three planes of motion so that your workout routine is balanced.  


Closing Thoughts

Having balanced, effective workouts is an important part of our job as coaches.  While there are many elements that we should consider when writing programs for others, these are few that initially come to mind.

What elements are important to you when writing programs?  Surely there are more than five – let us know in a comment below!

Until next time.. Stay moving!

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