program design Oct 17, 2019


The average person looking to find success in their lives knows the importance of staying Fit and Healthy.

They do their best to get to the gym or their favorite group class only to feel frustrated after a couple weeks or a couple months.

Most people show up to the gym without a game plan or follow along with what everyone else is doing in the class.  It's no wonder most people can't stick to and reap the benefits of a long term plan.  They end up working too much on random things only to get burnt out before they see the results they were expecting.  


Earlier in my coaching career I felt like I had to be in the fittest shape of my life at all times so that I can really walk the talk and build trust with my clients.

I ended up doing everything I can think of all at once.  

  • I was focusing on getting stronger 
  • Increasing my flexibility and improving my ranges of motion
  • Losing weight
  • Learning new skills 
  • Improving my endurance 

I designed tough workouts that would last over 90 mins 5-6 days a week with the intention of making progress in all those areas.  A few months in though, I hit a wall.  Everything hurt, I was always tired, I wasn't actually getting the results I wanted, and worst of all, I wasn't being a good coach.  I had taken on so much work with my fitness plan that other areas of my life started suffering.  

I got to a point where I knew something was off.  I needed to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new strategy.

At that time in my life I was very fascinated with personal development.  I read every book I can get my hands on that taught goal achievement and productivity.  I came across books like:

  • The One Thing 
  • The Compound Effect
  • Mastery
  • The Power of Less

From all these book One principle really popped out for me.  Long Term Success wasn't about working hard, it was about working smart.  It was about getting clear on the Desired Outcome and taking incremental steps everyday over a long period of time.  

I had to take a step back and look at how I was approaching Health and Fitness.  

Like most people, I fell into the trap of No Pain, No Gain.  I felt I would reach my full potential if I wasn't showing up and going all out with each session.  

But one day I got hurt.  During a Jiu Jitsu class I popped my shoulder out.  I was in serious pain.  I couldn't even lift my arm to take my shirt off when I got home.  

I started worrying.  How was I going to keep up with my workouts like this?  How was I going to coach my clients if I can't even demonstrate the movements properly?  Fear started creeping in, I started wondering if I was going to be able to do this kind of work till my old age. I love doing what I do and I didn't want to stop so I applied the work smart not hard principle to my workouts.  

I took a serious look at my life, the things I had to show up for, and I laid out my priorities.  It was pretty clear right away that I didn't need to be working out so hard.  After all, I wasn't a paid athlete, I was a paid coach and maintaining my health and vitality was more important than maintaining peak performance.  

So I slowed down.  Instead of working on many attributes at once, I started focusing on one at a time.  First things first, I had to recover from my shoulder injury and get back to functional movement.  I decided to stop working on strength and endurance and focus on good movement patterns.  My workouts got a lot easier, I was doing a lot of mobility work mixed in with basic body weight movements.  

A couple months in, my shoulder was a lot better.  But I also felt a lot better too.  I had more energy and I wasn't tired all the time anymore.  I was training in a way that resonated with my clients.  Most my clients are hesitant to start a fitness program because they felt like the journey to health and fitness was a tough grind.  They all had full lives they had to attend to and spending hours at the gym getting beat up wasn't something they were excited about.  

Having changed my approach to fitness, I was able to coach them into enjoying the process instead of pushing through it.  We were able to work at their pace and their level.  And just like myself they started feeling great.  They looked forward to their workouts.  They saw incremental progress every session which fueled their confidence.  Working out became something that supported their lives not something that left them feeling exhausted. 

If you're finding yourself in a similar situation then you need to start implementing the 3 P's to Program Design.

  • Prioritize - Analyze the assessment, define priorities, focus on what's first
  • Plan - Create a roadmap, including days needed, nutrition needed, lifestyle components 
  • Periodize - create training blocks that line up within the long term goal, current abilities, and training schedule

I'll walk you through how I'm currently implementing these principles into my current workout plan so you can get a better idea of how it might apply to you and then give you some tips so that you can start using them to better think through what you need to be doing.

Priority for me at this point is to learn as much as I can in order to help my clients out with all the different obstacles they encounter along their journey.  

I feel very stable in my body.  I have enough strength and mobility to function in my day to day.  So I don't need an aggressive plan trying to get stronger.  I get way more satisfaction learning more complex moves I haven't mastered yet.  Currently I'm working on the muscle up and the press to handstand as the two main movements.  Everything else is accessory for those two movements.  Which includes, shoulder, hip, and spinal work which everyone can use. 

The Plan:  Is to workout 6 days a week, at a sustainable pace.  My workouts are typically 30-45 minutes with plenty of warming up and cooling down.  When it comes to learning something new, it's better to space out your efforts and give you brain time to connect all the pieces.  on top of my workouts, I prioritize a nutritious diet, and lots of rest, including meditation, active recovery strategies, and adequate sleep.

Periodize:   I'll be focusing on these two movements for the next 8 weeks.  At the time I'm writing this I'm already 2 weeks in and my abilities to execute the movements are happening with greater ease.  After the 8 weeks, I'll switch over to a more aerobic plan since I don't have much of that kind of work in my program right now, and I like to stay aerobic.  However, this time around, I'll be more proficient in the muscle up and the press to handstand and I could start incorporating those into my circuits.  Whereas in the past, throwing those movements in the mix would make the workouts too hard to keep sustainable.  

Your turn:

What is your priority when it comes to fitness?

How much time do you have to work towards this goal?

What Fitness Level are you at right now and what do you need to work on next to take you to the next level?

What is your long term goal? What kinds of training blocks would you have to plan out in order to make sure you get there?

If you're reading these questions and thinking to yourself "I don't really know what I should be doing or what level I'm at" don't worry, your not alone.  And really, it's not your job to figure all this stuff out.  You've got your own life and your area of expertise, leave the hard work of figuring out how to put all these pieces to the fitness experts.

If you'd like some help putting together a customized plan that fits your life and your goals then schedule a consultation with me.  We can sit down together and assess your current level, and I'll help you put together a plan that you can be excited about.  


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