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How to Build a Good Training Program

An Outline and Application




The Outline


  1. Assessment: Where am I at?

  2. Goals: Where do I want to go?

  3. Parameters: What tools and resources do I have?

  4. Plan: How do I get from here to there using what I have?


These four steps form the basic outline of program design. The skill of the coach lies in knowing exactly how to carry out each step, knowing which assessments to use, knowing how to translate long-term or vague goals into specific and measurable benchmarks, and knowing how to build a realistic plan of progression that works within the student’s actual situation. (If in order to be successful the training plan requires a busy mom or dad to work out two hours a day, six days a week, then, frankly, it’s a stupid training plan, and we're not going to have success.)


The Application


With all this in mind I went to the gym yesterday to run through a few tests before I begin my next training cycle. Those assessments along with their results were as follows.


Assessment


  • Trap Bar Deadlift for Max Reps @ 230 lbs: 0 reps (low back has been bothering me, decided to skip test after warm up sets)

  • KB Military Press for Max Reps @ 28 kg: 6 reps on right, 6 reps on left (could’ve gotten 7 on right)

  • Pull Up for Max Reps @ Bodyweight: 11 reps (could’ve gotten 12)

  • KB Snatch for Max Reps in 5 Minutes @ 24 kg: 60 reps (not a good effort, honestly)

  • Weight and Body Composition: 173.1 lbs and 18.1% Body Fat


I’m not at all happy with the results, but they do accurately represent where I am at presently in relation to my goals. Regardless of where I’d like to think I am with the deadlift right now, the fact of the matter is that I have low-back pain which limits me in the movement pattern. The snatches were harder than I expected them to be, and I wasn’t ready to bring the effort I needed to get anywhere near 100 reps. So, what about my goals?





Goals


Here’s a brief rundown of where I’d like to be after my next training cycle.


  • Trap Bar Deadlift Max Reps @ 230 lbs: 12 reps (this would extrapolate to a 1RM of 330 lbs, which would be double my bodyweight if I reached my body comp goals below. Long-term, I want to hit 5 reps @ 2 x BW.)

  • KB Military Press Max Reps @ 28 kg: 10 reps on each side (this would be put me on track to reach my long-term goal of pressing half bodyweight on each side)

  • Pull Up Max Reps @ Bodyweight: 16 reps (for now I just want to get back to my previous PR of 16)

  • KB Snatch Max Reps in 5 Minutes @ 24 kg: 100 reps (perchance it might even feel somewhat "easy")

  • Weight and Body Composition: 165.0 lbs and 15.0% Body Fat (I’m really looking to get lighter and stronger so that I can run faster over 100-400 meters, which is yet another goal of mine.) 


Okay, so that takes care of my goals. Up next I need to establish the parameters.





Parameters


Here’s where it gets interesting. My car has been having issues and I don’t have reliable transportation at present. The gym I normally train at is in Liberty Lake. So, that's a problem. I’m also looking to save time and money in general, and I'd like to leave myself the option of training at the track once or twice a week in order to make progress toward the aforementioned goal of running faster. I have been trying, somewhat successfully, to leave Saturdays for rest and social activities. Sunday is church and family. So, we're likely looking at a Mon/Wed/Fri training schedule with Tuesday and Thursday as potential track days. As far as equipment, I have a 28 kg kettlebell, a pair of 20 kg kettlebells, and a jump rope. There is also a park a short distance from my apartment with a pull up bar and parallel bars. So, given these tools and limitations, how do I make meaningful progress toward my goals?


Plan


Here’s a general overview of my plan for each goal for the next six weeks.


  • Deadlift Goal: I plan to implement light deadlift varieties with the 28 kg to rehab my low-back, and I plan to employ a volume progression of single-leg deadlifts with the 20 kg bells for developing strength (this provides 88 lbs of load for each leg while minimizing spinal loading. It also translates well to running.)

  • KB Military Press Max Reps @ 28 kg: Press Ladder progressing to 3 sets of 1-2-3-4-5 @ 28 kg (45 total reps per side in 15 minutes)

  • Pull Up Max Reps @ Bodyweight: Progress from 1 rep on-the-minute for 10 minutes to 3 reps on-the-minute for 10 minutes

  • KB Snatch Max Reps in 5 Minutes @ 24 kg: Progress from 50 reps in 10 minutes to 100 reps in 10 minutes @ 28 kg

  • Weight and Body Composition: lose approximately one pound per week while maintaining muscle using nutrition planning through the Macrostax App. 


I’ve capped the session length at 55 minutes on paper which should ensure that each session is no longer than 60 minutes in practice. After organizing the progressions into a 3 day-per-week training plan, I’ve filled out the remaining time with secondary exercises that hopefully provide value without interfering with the main objectives or requiring any additional equipment. I've added airborne lunges and dips to my sessions at the park, making for a nice bodyweight-centric day, and for my at-home sessions I've sprinkled in some jump rope, renegade rows, and Turkish get-ups. The entire plan is 6 weeks long. In week 7, I will recover, re-assess, and re-plan.





The Next Step


Now that I've built what I think is a good training program, the next step is to simply do my best to execute the plan. Be sure to check back for the follow-up post at the end of the training cycle in 7 weeks. (Let's hope I'm not terribly embarrassed by the results.) Thanks for reading!


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