Program Design For Athletic Based Semi-Private Personal Training


Hey gang, my goal here today is to start giving you some of the base concepts of how we structure training programs in a way that allows us to easily accommodate a variety of abilities. Once you understand the fundamental movement patterns, the different ways to regress them and why, you'll be getting closer to coaching your own sessions.

There are 7 fundamental movement patterns that we seek to have in our Total Strength program every month:

  • Hip Hinge
  • Squat
  • Lunge
  • Push (horizontal & vertical)
  • Pull (horizontal & vertical)
  • Loaded Carry
  • Rotation (or anti-rotation)

Nearly any movement you need to perform in life is either based on one of these patterns or a combination of them. If you lack the ability to perform them well, you’ll naturally find ways to compensate. Compensation patterns force stronger muscle groups or joints to pick up the slack for the weaker and/or limited ones. This can lead to overuse, trigger points and joint disease.

By helping members get better at the patterns they’re deficient in, we reduce their risk of injury while improving overall performance. The key skill in this, is being well versed in the available exercise regressions. Regressions are the ways you can make an exercise easier to meet a member where their current abilities are. This will often depend on the individual’s unique reason for needing the regression. Perhaps they have pain, weakness, lack of stability or limited range of motion. An exercise can be regressed by:

  • Decreasing weight
  • Reducing the range of motion
  • Altering the speed
  • Changing the angle
  • Adding stability
  • Decreasing the reps or sets

We approach the members limitations from a variety of ways over the months, but our objective is always to improve the quality of their movement. Meaning, we want to see beautifully controlled movement through a non-painful range of motion. Over time we increase range, volume, weight, tempo...without ever sacrificing quality and safety. We do this with a mind on science and an eye for art.


When you look at our programs, you’ll see we try to hit the spectrum in the strength curve, A.K.A. the Force-Velocity Curve. We want our members to be strong, have good endurance and be able to move fast.

Some things are light, fast for many reps...others are heavy, slow for a few reps.

In order to develop the different aspects of the strength curve you'll need to use different percentages of your max weight. In reality, you'll never know the true 1 rep max for most of the exercises you and your clients use. For now, just understand that when you're training close to your max weight you'll only get a few reps and they'll be slow, when developing speed you'll need a lighter weight that you can hit for numerous reps.


We strive for well rounded athleticism by including agility, power, near maximal strength and endurance (speed-strength).

Push/Pull Ratio

Because of modern lifestyles, most people have forward, rounded shoulders and are hyper-kyphotic. This is due to driving, computers and cell phones...not to mention that most people who exercise often do more horizontal pushing than horizontal pulling, which further exaggerates the imbalances.

We counter this, and in turn greatly improve postures and return height, by having more horizontal pulling than pushing volume. We aim between a 3/2 or 2/1 ratio.

Other Points to Consider

Where is the equipment stationed? When you pair exercises together, will the sequence flow nicely or will your clients be walking back and forth constantly?

Your Homework

Write out and be prepared to demonstrate 3 exercise variations that fit each of the following categories. Feel free to use the Google machine. This should take you no more than 5-10 minutes, unless you get totally distracted by some good fitness articles.

  • Hip Hinge
  • Squat
  • Lunge
  • Horizontal Push
  • Vertical Push
  • Horizontal Pull
  • Vertical Pull
  • Loaded Carry
  • Rotation (or anti-rotation)