Q & A: How to Write Resistance Training Programs, Part 3

(Note: Part 1 covered training oneself and Part 2a covered the coaching component).

3. Practice Writing Programs. Apply these programs to real people, then write more programs. Repeat x Infinity.

If you want to get better at baseball, then you practice playing baseball. If you want to get better at reading, then you practice reading. If you want to get better at writing training plans, then you.....Yep, nothing too crazy here.

Every single one of SAPT"s clients receives an individualized program specific to their needs, injury history, training history, and current physical fitness level. And, if you"re a personal trainer or strength coach, I can only hope you do the same for those under your watch.

And chances are high (read: 110% likely), that throughout your time involved in program writing, you"re going to face multiple scenarios that require you to write something other than a cookie-cutter program that works for the 90% of the healthy population.

Let"s say you need you need to write a program for one of the following scenarios. How do you do it?

  • An office worker who works 60 hours a week, travels on the weekends, and only has time for two, 45-minute training sessions a week. Yet he needs to lose 40lbs and wants to improve his bench press by 15lbs?
  • A baseball player online casino walking in your door telling you he has Spondylolysis (vertebral fracture)?
  • A volleyball player ten weeks who just had ACL surgery 10 weeks ago?
  • A female (or male) with a goal of doing their first-ever chinup?
  • Someone who can"t keep his or her knees out while squatting, or someone who can"t help "shifting" to one side as they approach parallel during a squat?
  • A mom who wants to get "bikini ready" for Summer, yet only has access to a home gym with limited equipment?
  • A young man needing to pass a physical fitness test for US Special Forces selection and assessment?
  • A 70-year old simply seeking prevent her osteopenia from morphing into full-fledged osteoporosis?
  • An elite level triathlete (or mixed martial artist) that needs to get stronger but can"t afford to add any mass to his or her frame?

I ask these questions because, unless you want to do your clients a disservice, you can"t just write one program up on the chalkboard for everyone to follow. You have your own unique goals, strengths, and weaknesses, don"t you? So shouldn"t the program for you, personally, be specific to those variables and goals?

I wish I could give you a magic formula, the reality is in order to get better at writing programs you have to practice writing programs.

Currently, I have over 700 programs saved on my desktop that I"ve written for athletes and clients. Yes, some of them make me want to stab my left eye out, but I had to write program #1, #2, and #3 to get to program #700.

Program #700 took me one-third the time to write as Program #1, and at the same time is (hopefully!) much "better" and more accurate to the goals of the person it was written for.

Which is how it should be, in my opinion. If you were to flip through the programs of any good strength coach, you should see changes from their first program to their most recent one, as this reflects that they are continuing to research, they"re able to learn from their mistakes, and that they genuinely care about giving their clients and athletes they best possible training that"s in their power to do so. The best in the industry are those who recognize that the more they learn, the more they realize how much they don"t know.