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Programming 101: Starting Out

This article is the second in our Programming for online personal trainers series. The previous article dealt primarily with the information that you should gather from your client before you begin to build your client’s program.  Here, we want to provide some general suggestions for online personal Training programming to help you develop a framework for building workouts online. The following are three tips to help you get started.

Build Around Your Client’s Goals

Prior to beginning your client’s program, you need to find out what their specific goals are.  Your client’s program is going to look very different if they are training to run a half-marathon versus if they are trying to gain 5 pounds of muscle. The frequency, duration, and volume of their workouts will greatly vary depending on their specific goals, so before you begin creating a program find out what it is exactly that they are looking to accomplish.

Incorporate Both Strength Training and Cardio

Although your client’s workout will vary depending on what their goals are, they will need to have a balance of strength training, cardio, and some form of flexibility training.  Many online trainers make the mistake of only programming various forms of cardio for runners or only lifting for individuals who are trying to build muscle. Runners can benefit greatly from strength training even though they aren’t necessarily trying to build a great deal of muscle mass.  For instance, resistance training can help prevent and fix strength imbalance issues that may impact how a runner performs.  In contrast, some degree of cardio is advised for even the “hard gainer” who is trying to build muscle so as to help that client maintain balanced health.  Moreover, a client who is trying to lose weight should engage in both resistance training and cardio in order to improve their body composition by building muscle and increasing their metabolism.  Some form of stretching or flexibility training should be incorporated to every client’s program as well, regardless of the client’s specific goals. While all three modes need to be incorporated into everyone’s program, the degree of volume and frequency of each should still vary based on the client’s goals.

Start With Compound Exercises

When programming a client’s resistance training regimen, start with heavy compound exercises and longer rest periods.  This allows your client the benefit of completing more difficult exercises with increased recovery time. By completing these exercise while they are more rested the client will be able to lift more weight over the prescribed rep range and in effect build more muscle.  As the workout continues, begin to include single-joint and body-weight exercises that are less difficult to perform and place a lower demand on the central nervous system.  As the workout calls for more single joint exercises, a program in shorter rest periods in order to help further boost metabolism. Refer to the workout below for an example of the concepts covered here.  It begins with two compound exercises with relatively low reps and long rest periods before transitioning to single joint and bodyweight exercises with higher reps, lower weight, and shorter rest periods.

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Programming 101: Starting Out

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