Greater Peoria Metro Area, IL

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Designing Your Fitness Program — Personal Trainer Considerations


By Mike Hintz, Absolute Fitness

Personal trainers have an obligation to their clients to encourage them, to make them better, to push them beyond their limits, and to keep them safe while participating in a program. What makes fitness professionals different from the rank and file fitness enthusiasts trying to help their friends is their knowledge, education, and experience. Anyone can go online and find a program for working out. Designing effective programs, however, is what separates professionals from hobbyists in the fitness world. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration to piece together the puzzle of a fitness program.

Know the Client
What are the client’s goals? What is their motivation? Have they tried to achieve these goals before? What about injuries or health conditions? Are they an athlete who wants to perform better on the field of play?… A single guy looking to improve his appearance and confidence for the dating scene?… A grandmother who wants to be around longer for her grandchildren? What’s his or her current fitness level and exercise history? How many days per week can he or she dedicate to working out? What resources or obstacles do they have? Likes and dislikes? The list goes on and on. Anything short of these considerations can expose the fitness professional to the off-putting label as a “cookie-cutter trainer.”

Standard fitness assessments test for things like body composition, strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance. The important part is that it should be tailored to what the client is seeking. A performance assessment serves to identify the client’s needs related to achieving their stated goal and reveal to the trainer whether there are other issues needing work even if the client did not identify them.

Client Adherence
There’s no point planning a training program that someone won’t be able to adhere to because of their schedule, nor one that fails to account for where training fits on their priority list. Do they spend eight hours a day sitting? Are they sleeping enough hours at night? How is their nutritional plan? A trainer needs to prioritize consistency and anything that leads to it—even if the program seems to fall short of a “perfect program.” Keep in mind, an “average program” performed consistently is better than a “perfect program” performed inconsistently.

Program Design
Looking at each client as a blank canvas is an important component to putting a proper program in place.

Always remember to keep things simple. Simplicity provides opportunities for clients to be self-reliant. Program variables that every trainer considers includes: selection and order of exercises, the number of repetitions or time of each exercise, the number of sets or circuits of each group of exercises, the amount of rest between each exercise and workout session, the rate of progression for each client, etc. A client’s skill level, coordination and exercise technique also determines how fast progress is made. It’s about quality over quantity. In summary, a personal trainer’s goal is to design a fitness experience for the client, not just a series of workouts.

For more information on effective exercise, call Absolute Fitness at 309-692-1066 or visit our website at