How to Develop a Training Program
Brian Mackenzie explains the steps involved when developing a training programme.
The process of creating a training program to help develop an individual's level of fitness comprises of 6 stages:
The first stage is to gather details about the individual:
This is not an exhaustive list, but an example of the sort of information to collect.
The second stage is to determine which components of fitness they need to improve. This could depend upon what the individual wants to get fit for. This could be to improve general fitness, get fit enough to play in the Saturday hockey league, run a local 5 km fun run or compete in next year's London Marathon. Exercise scientists have identified nine elements that comprise the definition of fitness. The following lists each of the nine elements and an example of how they are used:
Of all the nine elements of fitness cardiac respiratory qualities are the most important to develop as they enhance all the other components of the conditioning equation. You will need to consider which of these elements apply to the individuals training program based on what it is they want to get fit for.
The next stage is to identify appropriate tests that can be used to initially determine the individual's level of fitness and then to monitor progress during the training. The identified test should be conducted, and the results recorded.
We now know the individual's background, objectives and current level of fitness. We now need to conduct a gap analysis of the individual's current fitness levels (from test results at stage 3) and target fitness levels (identified at stage 2). The results of this process will assist in the design of the training program so that each component of fitness is improved to the desired level.
The following is an example of a gap analysis:
Gap analysis - Aerobic fitness and arm power are good and need to be maintained - sprint, agility and leg power tests are below target - leg power needs to be improved.
The next stage is to prepare a training program using the results of the gap analysis and FITT principles. "
For frequency, intensity and time, you should start at an easy level and increase gradually, e.g. 10% increments. Aerobic training should last for 20 to 40 minutes. Strength work should last 15 to 30 minutes and comprise of 3 sessions a week with 48 hours of recovery between sessions.
Plan the program in four-week cycles where the workload in the first three weeks increase each week (easy, medium, hard) and the fourth week comprises active recovery and tests to monitor training progress. The four-week cycles aim to:
The tests used to assess the individual's initial level of fitness should be planned into week 4 of the program to monitor the progress and effectiveness of the program. The test results can be used to adjust the program accordingly.
The program needs to last 12 to 16 weeks to see any real benefits and the planning (initial & subsequent adjustments) should be conducted with the individual so that they feel they own the program. This will ensure the program is enjoyable and convenient to do.
The program has now been agreed upon, and the individual can undertake the program. Every four weeks meet and discuss with the individual:
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About the Author
Brian Mackenzie is a British Athletics level 4 performance coach and a coach tutor/assessor. He has been coaching sprint, middle distance and combined event athletes for the past 30+ years and has 45+ years of experience as an endurance athlete.