The Art of Programming

Programming is a mixture of an art form, a logistical puzzle, and a science experiment. 

If there is one thing I know for a fact, it is that Abby (one of our Telos Coaches and in-house Physical Therapist) puts in the quality time and thought to program for the group classes. When she writes the program out, there multiple variables she considers:

  • The warm-up– what movements are effective? What are common areas of stiffness/tightness that need to be addressed before doing the first compound movement? What can the class benefit from?

  • The goal of the strength training portion– are we building strength, size, explosivity, or maintenance? What are the appropriate reps and sets and percentages for the intended goal? What “phase” of training are we in?

  • The conditioning  piece– which energy system is being utilized? Is the goal aerobic or anaerobic? What is the intended intensity?

  • The class size– do we have enough equipment? Does the order of the workout flow? Is there enough space?

  • Skill level– what skills is the class still working on? Which ones have most people mastered and can perform under fatigue in a conditioning piece?

A few things coaches consider when programming are:

  • Do you know your athlete’s goals? As a coach, you must program specific to their goals.

    • If they’re looking to run a marathon, it’s not fitting to put them on a high-volume strength training program that is focused on building maximal strength. Instead, their strength training should complement their current running training, it should focus on building muscle for  injury prevention, banded mobility work for improvement movement, and core work. Understand your client/athlete’s sport demands/life demands and program appropriately.

    • Train the appropriate energy system and train for their sport/life demands.

  • Attack your athlete’s weaknesses, maintain and/or improve their strengths. Know their limitations.

    • For example, if there is a triathlete who suffers from constant knee pain after their run, then we need to address that in their strength training. And there can be several different culprits for that, but once it is identified, that will be a big focus. However, that does not mean we should neglect their upper body strength for their swimming; we will still include movements that they needed, but the focus will be on their current “pain points”.

  • What is the minimal effective volume for that specific person? 

    • Some athletes respond very well to low volume, others respond better to high volume. Everyone is different and coaches should be looking at their athletes’ recovery  responses to certain volume and intensity levels. If your athlete can get away with improving by doing low volume, then keep it that way. There is no need to add “junk” volume for the sake of it…more is not always better. Utilize that extra training time focusing on other aspects of training (mobility, accessory work, etc).

  • What is the experience of the athlete? How many years have they been training? Do they have sound foundational movement patters? Is there limitations in their movement?

    • The one thing you want to avoid is loading bad movement patterns— if someone has poor squatting movements, you need to address it before loading it more and furthering the bad pattern.

The cool thing about programming is there is no “one way” and every coach is different with their approach. You can look at several different programs written by different coaches and you will notice that they do not look the same, however they end up getting similar results. But, if you dissect the program further into its skeleton, you will notice  the underlying principles are the same. 

Whether you are someone looking for a good base of general physical preparedness or a student athlete looking to compete at the next level, we can help you reach your goals with our sound programming and expert coaching. Click below to schedule your free intro!