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9 KEY STEPS TO CREATE A TRAINING PROGRAM

By Karsten Jensen, MSc.
The process of creating a training program includes considerations such as which
assessments to perform and goal setting, factors that are not directly associated with
periodization.
In my experience, one of the best habits a strength coach can adopt is the creation and
continual development of a step-by-step process (a program creation recipe, if you will)
that s/he follows every time a training program is created. A shortened version of this
recipe is included in FPM because without this step-by-step method to create a program, all
the periodization knowledge in the world is of no use.
Strong Recommendation. Use this “recipe” as you create your training programs. As you
go through each step of the “recipe” refer back to the specific description of each block
(section 2.1-2.7) as well as the guidelines set forth in section 3.
If you are already working from a recipe that works for you, continue to do so and let this
recipe inspire you.

Step 1: Establish the Type 1 Goals
In the case of sports performance, the type 1 goals are established by asking the athlete/
coach, “What are the limiting factors for training and performance?”
In the case of the fitness client, the Type1 goal is established by simply asking about the
client’s goal.
Regardless of the client’s/athlete’s background, the Type1 goals will typically fall into one
of the following 7 categories:
1. Increased daily energy or vitality.
2. Prevent repeated injuries and/or rehabilitate an injury.
3. Improve the ability to perform a high amount of sport specific practice with high
quality.
4. Improve the ability to repeat current peak performance in selected elements of the
performance or game.
5. Improve peak performance in selected elements of the performance or game.

1. an important principle which encourages us to “do everything that you can do. will lead to little or no further improvement in the type 1 goal.” Create a list with the answers to the above question and make sure to cover the following factors. Before proceeding. nerve or joint problem) o Length tension relationships o Muscle activation patterns o Posture o Stability o Balance/coordination o Strength o Power/speed/agility o Endurance o Technical and tactical ability (if you are an athlete) If possible. o Injury/pain (muscle. the head coach or strength coach must ask. Spiritual 2. Mental/emotional 3. The benchmarks will serve as values where a further increase of the value. . o Internal organs. “In how many different ways can this goal be improved?” This is the “Surrounding The Dragon” principle. Physical o Internal biochemistry. Change body composition.Page 2 9 KEY STEPS TO CREATE A TRAINING PROGRAM 6. In 10 years I have yet to experience an answer that did not fall into one of the seven categories. 7. establish benchmarks for each “item” on the list. Improve performance in prolonged or repeated competitions.

the type 2 goals are selected. Aerobic Power. BMA Ex: Hamstrings/in knee flexion. Charles Staley.com).. www. the chosen type 2 goal can include many “items” other than the physical related items. in a very precise manner. which can be used with ANY athlete or client and ANY activity or goal. B. structural strength 2.Page 3 9 KEY STEPS TO CREATE A TRAINING PROGRAM Step 2: Perform Assessments Ideally. will. Which “items” on the list are the least developed (compared to the benchmarks)? Improvements of which factors could have the greatest impact on the type 1 goal? Which “items” have received the least amount of systematic training? Improvements of which “items” could lead to improvement of other “items”? Based on the answers to the questions above.. Joint / emphasis. Also. (BMA = bio-motor ability) **Having a predetermined “first choice” structure of workouts is necessary to determine how many type 2 goals can fit into the program.. Step 3: Determine the Type 2 Goals Compare the assessments to the list and ask the following questions: A. knowledge about the available number of training sessions per week and the desired training frequency for each exercise is necessary. D. Primal Pattern Movement / emphasis. the type 2 goals are the specific physical goals that fall into three main categories: 1. the head coach or strength coach should have reliable information about ALL items on the created list. Herein lies the power of this methodology (which I originally learned of from American strength coach. Muscle / emphasis. As far as strength and conditioning goes. BMA Ex: Running/. help everyone involved determine key factors to work on to develop the type 1 goal. .. C. Obviously.staleytrainin systems. This methodology. BMA Ex: Spine(low back)/extension. dynamic mobility 3.

The advanced athlete. If the client is an athlete. if the client is a fitness client. Use the guidelines presented in section 3. Now. For example. a three week mesocycle with three weekly sessions has a total of nine sessions. you must determine a length for each of the microcycles (number of training sessions with the same method variation). the number of different programs needed for each mesocycle. For example. The length of the microcycle can be different for each main type of training (strength. Step 5: Select the Exercises and the Specific Structure of the Training Sessions From Step 4 you know the number of mesocycles (= consecutive # of weeks within the same block type). When you know the number of programs needed for each mesocycle. jump/throw or energy systems) by multiplying the number of weekly sessions with the duration of the mesocycle.1-2. the intermediate athlete client may use one program (based on a microcycle of 9 training sessions). plot the deadline for the goal. if there are nine total strength training sessions in an SSP block. jump/throw or energy systems). who adapts quickly to a program may use two different programs (based on a microcycle of 4-5 training sessions. For each mesocycle. Decide upon an optimal sequence of the blocks for the entire macrocycle. you also know the number of programs needed for the whole macrocycle. calculate the total number of training sessions of a given kind (strength.Page 4 9 KEY STEPS TO CREATE A TRAINING PROGRAM Step 4: Determine the Block Sequence and Number of Consecutive Weeks Within Each Block On an appropriate sheet of paper. Based on the athlete’s/client’s training age and specific knowledge obtained about the athlete/client. Divide the total number of training sessions in the mesocycle with the chosen length of the microcycle. This number will let you know. The length of the microcycle should fall within 416 workouts (see Appendix 6).7 . you can start selecting the exercises by using the exercise characteristics discussed in sections 2. Count out the number of available training weeks. plot dates for all known competitions.

ISS Block SIS Block SSP Block Overhead Split Squat+ Front Squat Split Squat (elevated front foot)+Front Squat Front Squat Table 4. As a rule of thumb.1. there is less opportunity to makes changes to translatory movements like running. SIS and ISS blocks so they match the goals of each individual block as well as prepare the athlete/ client for the training with the exercise chosen for the last blocks. For the ISS. Here is an example of a sequence of squats. biking. . make one small change to the exercise for each new microcycle. Sequence of squats leading up to a Front Squat in the SSP block Note: While there are many options for making small and relevant changes to strength as well as jump/throw exercises. choose the exercises in the SPP. Depending on the specific number of training weeks available. with Deep Front Squats being the end goal. As you do so.1-2. depending on the method variation used. The total training volume may arise from one or more intensity brackets. typically the SPP or SEP blocks. it is critical that any given exercise builds upon the previous exercise. possibly by increasing the number of workouts rather than the length of existing workouts.4 and shown throughout the method variations. 3-week waves is a primary template for varying the volume and intensity. functional overreaching or an impact microcycle.Page 5 9 KEY STEPS TO CREATE A TRAINING PROGRAM Begin by choosing the exercise you want to use in the last blocks of the preparation period. Even though these loading forms require sharp increases in volume (see Appendix 6) this increase must still be performed sensibly. this template cannot always be maintained and adjustments must be made. SIS. Complete this step by structuring the exercises in each program according to the suggested structures and guidelines presented in Sections 2. As discussed in section 1. rowing etc. Step 6: Select the Total Training Volume Use the guidelines presented in the “Volume and Intensity Brackets” in the description of each block.7. SSP and Part of SPP and SEP you may choose concentrated loading. Subsequently.

) Step 8: Distribute the Weekly Volume Between Each Training Day and Select the Number of Sets and Interval Repetitions to Match the Chosen Volume for Each Training Day. there is no need to specifically choose the method variation for more than the immediately upcoming program.7) as a guideline to help you distribute the weekly volume between the training days. .1-2. jump/throw or energy system).2. Use the tables showing the “Weekly distribution of volume and intensity” (See Section 2.7.) (While you may have an idea of which method variation to use for programs in the whole macrocycle.Page 6 9 KEY STEPS TO CREATE A TRAINING PROGRAM Step 7: Select The Method Variations Begin this step by selecting the method variation for each training type that is included in the program (strength. (See Sections 2. The fundamental principle is outlined in table 4. Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 1 x per week 2 x per week 3 x per week 4 x per week 5 x per week 100 % 40 % 30 % 20 % 10 % 60 % 50 % 40 % 40 % 20 % 30% 5% 10 % 30 % 15 % Table 4. It shows the relationship between the number of times per week that a given physical quality is included in the training program and the distribution of the weekly volume for that quality. When the method variations include more than one intensity bracket the weekly distribution can be created based on 1) One total volume or 2) Two total volumes (one for each intensity bracket).1 – 2. Relationship between the number of times per week that a given physical quality is included in the training program and the distribution of the weekly volume for that quality.2. It’s important to note that these numbers are guidelines that may be adjusted to optimize the results for the individual athlete.

(If you use a method variation that only prescribes a total number of repetitions and not the volume per set. 30 repetitions and the volume per set is 7. Not surprisingly. The written program must include everything you want the athlete or client to do and there should be nothing written that you don’t want them to do. It is advisable to be specific as you write the program. you then know that the program calls for 10 interval repetitions.Page 7 9 KEY STEPS TO CREATE A TRAINING PROGRAM When you establish the total volume for the day (number of repetitions or number of minutes) you can determine the number of sets by dividing the total volume for the day with the volume per set for the chosen method variation. this predicament is avoided). to a group of badminton players. 4-8. Since we can’t prescribe 4. this lack of specificity is not acceptable and should be avoided. for example. we just have to approximate the number and prescribe 4 or 5 sets. for example. how often you train with the client). use the middle of the bracket for the calculations. Obviously. whatever levels of trust the badminton players may have had in that strength coach was gone. In the top right corner. The Flexible Periodization Method is all about creating individualized training programs. depends on your personal preferences as well as the specifics of how you work (for example. Exactly how your sheet looks.  You may encounter situations whereby you determine the total volume per session to be. I have witnessed a strength coach hand out supposedly “sport-specific programs”. he had crossed out “basketball” and instead written “badminton”. . For example: If you decided upon a total volume of 20 minutes of AEE in the ISS block and chose 2-minute intervals.5 sets.  If the volume per set is indicated as a bracket. training programs that are designed to truly fit the needs of a specific person. Some training programs have “abs” and “stretching” listed as the last two items on the program. Step 9: Write the Program You can now write the program with all the information needed for the client/athlete to perform the program. Notes.

I realize that there is a time and place also for generic programs. there is never a time and place for lack of professional integrity. particularly in situations where our goal is to serve larger groups of athletes or clients. . However.Page 8 9 KEY STEPS TO CREATE A TRAINING PROGRAM While I believe that our profession can expect the greatest advancements by emphasizing highly individualized programs.