How to Build a Training Program
Building an effective training program is like doing a puzzle. Each piece has a place and a purpose, and when they all come together they work perfectly to create something amazing!
However, it can be pretty overwhelming (especially as a beginner) to create a program that is effective for you and your goals. But don't stress, I am here to help! Here are some of the most important pieces that you should focus on when building your training-program-puzzle.
- What is your goal? Make sure your training goals are clear and that your training style supports this goal.
- Frequency (days per week): There is no point making a 6 day program if you can only train 3 days a week - don’t set yourself up for failure. Be sure to consider frequency when designing your program, and make sure to leave room for rest and recovery. Your frequency will be determined by how many days you can actually get to the gym (or get it done from home) plus your ability to recover from said training.
- Volume (sets and reps): Remember, less is often more when it comes to training volume. Focus on 4-5 exercises per session, with 1-2 compound movements and 2-3 accessory exercises, and 1-2 isolated exercises. I recommend sticking around 3-4 sets per exercise, and rep ranges can vary anywhere from 3-20. I know it’s a broad range, but this will come back to your goal. Is it strength? Do a mesocycle (training block) of lower reps (4-8 reps). Is it hypertrophy? Do a mesocycle of moderate reps (6-12 reps).
- Rest: I like to program 2-3 minutes rest between compound lifts, 1.5-2 minutes for accessory lifts, and 30-60 seconds for isolated exercises and finishers. A lot of people skim over rest, thinking it’s not necessary. But you’ll actually see bigger strength and muscle growth improvements if you’re taking your rest periods seriously (for real, there are studies backing this up), both in and out of the gym.
- Intensity: Make sure you are training with sufficient intensity. You can have the best program in the world, but if you aren't actually training with intensity (effort) then it won't yield great results. I always tell my TWS girls to push 2-3 reps away from technical failure. The point at which your technique starts to break down and you’re unable to get more reps out with proper technique.
- Exercise selection. Make sure the exercises you choose actually support your goal. If you want to get better at squatting, include these in your program! If your goal is glute growth, make sure you are including a range of glute biased exercises. It might seem obvious, but often people confuse the exercises they actually need to be doing with 'trending' exercises or junk volume.
- Simplified: This is a very simplified way to program. Programming is an art I’ve spent years refining and perfecting. Through personal experience, mentoring, studying, researching, and coaching clients. There’s no ‘one best program’ or style of training. A good coach will factor in someones goals, life circumstances, strength, experience, and enjoyment with every program written.