How to design a training program?

Posted: December 12, 2010 in Training

As a personal trainer, one of the things you would need to do is to design a training programme for the client. But as some may wonder, how does a trainer come up with one? We would have to take 2 things into consideration: Principles of training and the FITT approach to designing a training programme.


There are 8 principles of training and they are:

1. Specific Training – Your training should have a specific goal or targeted for a particular sport. This principle applies to movement patterns, joint mobility and muscle group strength.

2. Overload – By upping the level of your usual training to past your normal fitness level will stress the muscles, which will increase performance after the rest and recovery phase. You will see gains in overall performance with a continuous but gradual increase in training level. The process must be slow to avoid overtraining.

3. Recovery – You must rest between workouts to allow your muscles to recover. After stressing the muscle tissue during training, new growth and repair only begins during rest.

4. Reversibility –  Once you’re fit, you can’t stop training. Any gains that you get from regular fitness training can be reversed if you stop, whether from an injury or simply not having enough time to keep working out. A week or so won’t likely have any effect, but after 3 months you will start to see significant fitness losses begin. Should you wish to maintain your current physique or condition, use the same intensity of training.

5. Variation – You should vary your routine in order to work all your muscle groups. The body is an efficient machine, and can get too adapted to the same routine. New gains are more likely when you change up your workouts and vary the intensity levels.

6. Transfer – Some exercises that have similar movements can be transfered across. In one example, squats can help improve vertical jump because they both require a similar move.

7. Individuality – Everyone is different, and your training should be structured to fit your own individuality. Your fitness routine should be tailored to suit your needs and goals, as well as your physical body. You need to consider your gender, sport, overall health, any previous injuries or damage, motivation to train and experience levels.

8. Balance – All aspects of your lifestyle need to be in balance for you to see the most gains from your training. Besides actual workouts, be focused on diet, nutrition, sleep and your recovery periods. Moderation is really the important point here. If all you ever do is train, you will put too much pressure on your muscle groups and do yourself damage. Too much focus on diet can end up in eating disorders or obesity.


These 8 Principles of Training can help you reach your fitness goals faster and more successfully. Keep them in mind as you train.


Moving on to designing a training program, it would revolve around FITT. Think of The FITT principle as a set of rules that must be adhered to in order to benefit from any form of fitness training program.

Frequency – The number of times you train usually in a week. It would differ for resistance training and cardiovascular trianing.

Intensity – The amount of effort that should be invested in a training program or any one session. Some examples would be your target heart rate(bpm), weights lifted(e.g. 60% of 1 Repetition Maximum) and number of sets.

Time – How long you should be exercising for. Is longer better? Yet again, this would be different with the type of training.

Type – What type of exericse should you choose  to achieve the appropriate training response? Examples would be cardiovascular training or resistance training.


Example: I wish to train 3 times a week (frequency) for 45 minutes each session (time) focusing on 2 resistance training of 70% of 1RM comprising of lower and upper body split and 1 cardiovascular training (type) with my target heart rate as 160bpm (intensity). What’s your FITT?


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