Progam Design Concepts

Training programs for both athletes and more casual fitness enthusiasts need to be directed towards specific targets in order for an individual to reach their goals.  This requires that programs address specific physical attributes, along with an appropriate progression to ensure that continued progress is achieved.  It is seen far too many times the individual that wants to take on the next high-intensity battle rope, kettlebell, prowler circuit (of which the author has no problems with any of these implements, just with their misuse which is all too often seen) without understanding what they are looking to achieve.  While undertaking these “programs” there can be some initial benefit (i.e. weight loss), the long-term progression is lost due to misapplication of basic programming concepts.

The following describes some basic concepts that should be included in just about any program.  So whether one is a competitive athlete or an adult interested in physical fitness, consider looking at these in determining the type of activity one is involved in.

1.  Foundation

While the author believes terms such as “base fitness” are overused, there is something to be said about giving oneself a good starting point to beginning a training program.  Individuals in the general fitness populations are many times guilty of just jumping into high-intensity exercise programs without having performed more basic general physical preparation.  As stated previously this can result in some short term improvements, however,  it also results in early stagnation and likely injuries (which will be discussed later).

Morris and Myslinski (n.d.) have given an outline of a general physical preparation program for football, while Francis (n.d.) has created a video on what can be done for track and field athletes (and adapted for other team sports).  The overall theme in works such as these is that one must begin any progression with basic physical preparation.

2.  Injury Prevention

The concept of injury prevention in training programs harkens back to the point of building a foundation, but also deserves its own explanation.  If one gets injured during training, it can create a frustrating setback to progress.  This is another issue related to the more trendy fitness concepts being marketed today and pushed out in videos on the internet.  It is important that people address any muscle imbalances or orthopedic issues they may have before increasing the difficulty of their exercise.

No matter what your training status is, there should be an emphasis on preventing both acute and overuse injuries during training.  Basic movement skills (i.e. learning basic hip hinge movement) should be something that everyone should consider as a component of their training.

3.  Variety

To avoid accommodation to training, it is important to include variations in all aspects of training for continued progress.  One needs to be cautious as to how often things are changed in a program.  Beginners and intermediate trainees don’t need to have as much variety as more advanced individuals.  The author typically works in three to four week training blocks where most exercises remain the same during that timeframe.  Many people tend to think they are more advanced then they are and change things more often; this typically results in injury and stagnation in training.  For most individuals, it would be recommended to vary things like volume and intensity within a three to four week period, as opposed to changing exercises.

The concepts listed here is just a short list of items to consider when planning out a training program.  A good point of emphasis throughout these ideas is to think of one’s training as more long-term.  While the point of any training program is to create adaptation to a physically stressful stimulus (which is really what any form of exercise is), it is important to realize that you don’t have to just create excessive amounts of daily fatigue to accomplish this.


Morris, B., Myslinski, T.  (n.d.) Coach X.  London, OH:

Francis, C.  (n.d).  GPP Essentials.