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  • Writer's pictureKennon McArthur

Essentials of Training Program Design

Odds are that you or someone you know has been thinking about getting back in shape, would like to become more athletic, or is wanting to reduce some stress. With all the available information out there it should be relatively easy to come up with a solid plan to accomplish any of those goals, but that’s not always the case. Whether you’re designing your own training program or working with a personal trainer, there are five essentials that must always be considered in order to have the best chances for success.

First and foremost we must consider (Time). How much time do I currently have available, and how much time am I willing to invest in this program? If you struggle to find available time then you must evaluate your overall schedule and ask yourself what reasonable adjustments can be made. Look for opportunities to eliminate unproductive time, such as scrolling social media, staying up late to watch a show, or having one more drink. Once you’ve identified some of your time opportunities, think about how to not only eliminate some of the waste, but to also replace it with healthy choices, like quality sleep, early morning stretching and movement, etc.

The second essential that we need to consider is (Energy Availability). This directly correlates to understanding physiological load, and just exactly how much energy your body has available to expend. People who are suffering from a high physiological load will need to spend the time to build up energy through “working in.” The main effect of the exercises in a work in program is that they cultivate more energy than they expend. Once your body begins to feel good and you have a natural desire to take the next step, then, and only then is it time to advance to a workout.

The next consideration is (Willingness). Although I guess this could just as easily be listed first, willingness can take on multiple contexts. For instance, one may be willing to set aside the time to train but they aren’t willing to be dedicated to the entire process. Or one may be willing to invest in a gym membership or personal trainer but they aren’t willing to commit to doing the work. Essentially it boils down to this; willingness is a direct reflection of “how bad you want it.”

Once you’ve gotten a good handle on the first three essentials, one must understand (Financial Ability) and the (Resource Needs) associated with the program. Financial availability is self-explanatory but it’s not cut and dry. Just because one may not be able to afford to exclusively purchase organic food and supplements doesn’t mean that their entire nutrition plan is shot. It simply means that they must think a little more outside the box, like having a personal garden or a chicken coop in the back yard.

Resource needs are basically an evaluation of what you already own or have access to versus what you may want or need to purchase. This can be food, equipment, clothing, gym memberships, etc. Use your resources to make training an easy fit for your budget and schedule. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and it’s likely that you already have many of the resources need to get started.

An honest assessment of these essentials is critical when it comes to program design. Adapt around your truth, whatever it is in the present moment. Continually evaluate your essentials and their priority. Training is not always perfect but following the 80/20 rule will keep you trending in the right direction. Continuous improvement in small increments is what it’s really about.

In health and happiness….

Kennon McArthur – CHEK IMS 1

@catchinglessons on Twitter


CHEK Integrated Movement Science Level 1 Manual Notes

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