Q & A: How to Write Resistance Training Programs, Part 6: A Blueprint

Q: Hi Steve,I’m very new to the powerlifting/strong(wo)man training world … and I love reading your blog! It’s always chock full with information. One thing I was wondering, and maybe it’d be a topic to write about … how do you come up with workouts?? Do you make stuff up?? Have a “grab-bag” of moves and pull out of that?? Borrow and modify from other trainers??  I always wonder where trainers come up with new ideas.

Thank you for all the great info!!

A. For those of you who have missed it, you can find Part 1 (Train Yourself), Part 2 (Coaching), Part 3 (Practice Writing Programs), Part 4 (Try Yourself, and Borrow/Steal), and Part 5 (Perfectionism) in the respective links. FINALLY, we're going to wrap up today with a few "blueprint" suggestions.

This is going to be far from a comprehensive list, but hopefully it will get you started on the right track and shed some light into a few things that go through my brain as I right programs. Honestly, I'm just going to spill out a few bullet points as they come to me, so forgive me for the potential non sequitur and/or lack of structure that may appear below.

6. Bluprint


  • Yes, I do have a "grab-bag of moves" that I pull from. I make sure that every program contains at least one exercise from the following categories: Squat, Hinge, Pull, Push, and, stealing a chapter from Dan John's book, a Loaded Carry. I have a list of exercises from each category, and pick and choose from them based on the athlete and his or her needs.


  •  For stronger athletes, 10 total REPS is a good number to hit for the main lift in one session. Ex. 3x3, 2x5, 5x2 will be plenty to make them stronger, while at the same time not frying them.
  • For the in-season athlete, stop the workout if they begin to feel exhausted and/or more tired than when they walked through the door. In-season training should "fire them up" and allow them to perform better (duh?), so there's no need to beat them into the ground. A general rule of them would be to reduce the volume by 50-65%, and primarily focus on the main, compound movement of the day.In fact, it's funny as we've had numerous baseball players tell us they had some of their best games (in-season) the day after training at SAPT because their CNS was so charged up.
  • Everyone needs mobility drills, but not everyone needs them in the same places (ex. while Person A may need some closed-chain ankle dorsiflexion work, Person B may not need it at all).
  • 3-4 main movements per day is really all most people need to reach their goals. Anything more than than that and you get become mediocre at a lot of things instead of great at a couple things (and I'm not just talking about the actual lifts in the gym). Give it your all on just a couple lifts each week, instead of half-hearted effort on a bazillion exercises.
  • This list could literally go on for pages, but I'll stop now as I'm out of time. In actuality, if you follow Parts I, II, and III from this series for an extended period of time you *should* discover a lot of this yourself.

Note: In case you missed Sarah's notice from yesterday, SAPT is currently giving 25% off for our training sessions. Click HERE for more information, and spread the word!