Planning an Effective Programme

May 31st 2015


Planning an effective programme

Many things are to be considered when planning an effective programme for a client.

The hormonal response from the body that leads to the correct protein synthesis (Catabolic Breakdown followed by Anabolic) and the body’s ability to adapt are highly dependent on the programme that induces the stress upon the client.

When arranging a training session, you are to ensure there is enough volume and intensity for an overload to take place, as this in turn will cause an alarm response and over a period of time with consistent training will cause a positive adaptation (Increased gains!)

Ensuring your athlete conducts more training sessions over a prolonged consistent period will lead to more fatigue and an increased hormonal response.  However, only if the correct recovery time is adhered to will the correct adaptation occur. (i.e De-load weeks, rest between sets etc)

To that end we can see that with the correct coaching and programming, your fitness gains will be more consistent with longer term training plan (No quick fix!)

General adaptation Syndrome

Fig 1 – (Goal (Red line) not reached)   
As shown above (Fig1) If you train without the requisite rest periods/de-loads you will run the risk of not achieving your goal, leading to exhaustion.


Fig 2 – (Goal (Red line) reached)

However, If you take into account your rest and overall goal, at the end of your consistent training over a longer period of time (Fig 2) you will reap the rewards.

To that end, what is the purpose of a training programme?

The programme is to be designed to develop and increase fat loss , strength, power or hypertrophy gains of your client using the correct method of periodisation, following these steps.

Sport analysis – Athlete analysis – Objectives – Training plan – Monitoring 
(Joyce & Lewindon, High performance training for sports, 2014)

Once the planning stage has been conducted the training programme needs to be put together using his/her knowledge of training variables.

The variables to be considered are:

Volume and Intensity

The volume of a session is determined by the amount of training you conduct in your routine.

The intensity is how hard the session is.

Volume = Work completed and how long it takes to complete.

Intensity = Work completed in relation to the percentage of your maximum training weight.

With regards your goal/aim the overall programme volume and intensity needs to take into account de-load weeks and is to be conducive to your long term adaptations. 

The stress the body is put under during the workouts is to be positive in order for the client to be able to handle more volume and intensity as the programme progresses. (periodisation)

If the programme is too intense at the start of your fitness journey the client will end up exhausted and fail to reach their goal as in fig 1, due to injury or fatigue.



This determines how often you can stress the client, how many sessions they can be put through.  If, for instance your clients are conducting extra training outside of the gym training that you programme (Endurance work etc) The sessions must be adjusted accordingly so you can still initiate the correct hormonal response and be mindful that if the client over trains or under recovers this will send them into the exhaustion phase (fig 1).
The body is to be overloaded to the correct degree, in order for the body to stimulate a stress response, to enable the proteins to breakdown (catabolic) and there is increased up regulation of protein synthesis (Anabolic) as this will ensure muscle growth. (fig 3/fig4)


Fig 3 


Fig 4

Recovery (v.Important)
Therefore, if you under recover or over train you will run the risk of becoming too catabolic and negate the adaptation, resulting in exhaustion. (Nutrition is the key at this point)
To ensure that the body gains muscle, burns fat or gains strength, there are many ways to manipulate the volume and intensity of the session. Here are few examples taken from High performance training for sports, 2014.

Wave – Similar fluctuations of volume and intensity

Incremental – Gradual increase of volume and intensity of work (fig 5)

Varying volume – Maintenance of high intensity with varying volume

Varying intensity – maintenance of high volume with varying intensity

Reactive – Based on how the coach/athlete feels


Fig 5 – Example of a wave incremental programme


A programme is to be designed to ensure the client needs analysis are met  alongside their long term goal, be it a sport, weight loss or strength gains. 

The training plan is then to be monitored on a regular basis to ensure that just the right amount of stress is placed on the client in order for them to progress towards their goal at the correct rate.

The coach is then to consider, adjusting the programme in accordance with the needs of the client, by manipulating the training variables for the best results.

PictureSean Cole Head Coach

Sean Cole (AKA Fitness Dad)