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Major principles of program design


Creating a training program can be a challenging task, especially when you consider all the information that’s out there. Having an open mind and a critical mindset helps you make informed decisions when it comes to analyzing information.


What are the tenets we should follow in order to create a good training program? This is a good question and, in this article, I will talk about the fundamental principles that are needed to create a program design that is effective and efficient. So, what are the fundamental principles of program design that you can use to help people reach their goals in the gym?


All the information here are evidence-based meaning that the factual information is gathered by scientists and researchers from various parts of the world. As I see, Science truly can help us understand why certain phenomena happen and why we don’t perform as well as we should or how we build the muscles we work our butt off.


How do you define Fitness? What is it to you? Getting some key definitions such as this will help us set goals and plan our actions to achieve them. It will also help us avoid injuries and maintain a healthy lifestyle.


Both our fitness and fatigue increase with increasing levels of exertion. As a result, our performance also decreases. Understanding the concepts of stress recovery and stimulus reduction can help us manage this issue. For instance, understanding the SRA curve (Stress, Recovery, Adaptation) can help us reduce stress and improve recovery.


The S.A.I.D principle is a concept that explains how we adapt to the demands that we put on ourselves. This is why, if we want to improve our squatting technique, we should start by focusing on the demands that we put on ourselves. This also tells us that we can do little work and still get no results. Instead, we need to stay in the middle ground by carefully monitoring our progress and keeping our bodies at the peak of their potential. The fundamentals are the things that you have to consider when creating training programs. We want to be specific about our goals and we want to achieve them in a way that it fits to our bodies and our needs.


  1. Specificity: You want to improve in some way or another, so perform the task that you are aiming to complete. For instance, if you are planning on getting a heavy squat, then perform it while holding a press or something similar. Although a leg press is a useful tool to strengthen the legs and reduce fatigue, it is not the same as a standard squat. Also, it can’t replicate the same movements as a standard squat. When writing a training program, do the goals in your mind. If the goal is to build muscle or gain strength, then we have to go with a style of training that will induce the desired results. We want to be able to perform well enough to fail but also have the hypertrophic response needed to grow our muscles. This is achieved by being within a set range and focusing on strength. If we have a lot of muscle mass but not enough time to learn how to use it properly, then we won’t be able to effectively utilize it. This is why we need to perform various motor patterns in order to improve our strength.

  2. Progressive overload: We have to disrupt homeostasis to get stronger and bigger. Doing more work or making it harder is a good way of achieving this goal. If we want to get stronger, then lifting heavier weights is the best way to go. If we wanted hypertrophy, then we would have to perform sets or weight or reps in order to improve the tension on the muscle. We can do this in a variety of ways depending on your goal and lifestyle. Usually, the preferred method is to add weight or an extra set of reps. This method works if the weight is too heavy that the motor units can't handle. However, if the muscle fibers are still able to handle the weight, then we can add a set. These are the various factors that will affect your goal in terms of overloading. If you want to improve your strength training, we can use tempo or pauses to improve neural patterns. Ideally, we should start with weight or reps/sets to build lean muscle mass and avoid injury. However, what we build won’t just hang around. If our body doesn’t need the muscle it uses, it can recycle the energy it produces into other uses. This is called reversibility.

  3. Fatigue management: Performance masks fatigue. It is a phenomenon that occurs in the central nervous system when the muscles that produce force are not able to generate enough of it. This impairs the high threshold motor unit output of the brain. If the central nervous system is overworked, it will not be able to effectively utilize the muscle fibers within its inner. There are two types of motor units known as high and low threshold. The other is the HTMU’s which are very quick to tire and tend to use more energy. They can also control more muscle mass and require less energy. Having a good recovery system in place will help prevent fatigue accumulation. Eventually, we’ll plateau in our training. At its worst, it can lead to injury or overtraining. We should start with the inverted U theory and the SRA curves when it comes to recovery. This will help us create a higher baseline for our goals. Central fatigue is different from peripheral or muscle damage related fatigue. Peripheral fatigue refers to the lack of force that the limbs can provide after being overworked due to various factors such as muscle damage, lactic acid reduction, and the inability to produce enough of the energy needed for contraction. To test your fatigue business, do bicep curls until your arm can no longer lift. Then, throw a ball at a target. How did it go? This experiment is similar to what happens when we have chronic fatigue. It occurs when we try to exert too much weight on our bodies by throwing the ball in an uncontrollable manner. This could cause injury and even damage our organs.

  4. Individuality: Pre-exercise interviews and questionnaires help us assess individuals in order to apply individualization. These are also used to consider their personal characteristics and health history. If I loved a certain exercise but my client hated it, I would never make them do it. We don’t have to do a lot of exercises to get the same results. There are tons of variations and exercises that will have the same effect on results.

  5. Periodization: Periodization is very important for all clients as it helps them get the most out of their training programs and helps them avoid getting lazy and exhausted. Periodization is a plan that breaks down your training into smaller groups or blocks. It can be used for specific events or sports. This plan will typically include any time off or weeks that the client needs to recover or improve their technique. It will also include weeks or months that the client needs to train for hypertrophy or strength. For a powerlifting program, we can start training in preparation for a competition. Once we have a year to prepare, we can start with a hypertrophy block and build up gradually over time. It is possible to predict with some accuracy, as long as you know what the research says. Having the necessary experience and being able to collect enough data will help you make better decisions.

  6. Variation: The goal is to improve the range of motion within the muscles and joints of our bodies. Doing so allows us to avoid developing weak and compensatory movements that could lead to injury. It can help the novice client to keep up with the training and keep themselves motivated. It can also help them to improve their skills and attitudes.

  7. Consistency & Adherence: These are the most important factors when it comes to getting results. They can change depending on how you approach them and their impact on your goals and overall health. In this, we will talk about the various elements that are commonly used in training programs, namely, the variables. These are the things that can be changed inside the program. Although not the core principles of training, variable concepts are still very important when it comes to programming for exercise. In programming, we often use variables to help manage the principles. For instance, we can use volume and intensity to achieve recovery after a de-load week. For instance, if a client can’t squat, we have to modify the exercise selection to make it work for them. Volume: This is the amount of work that we are doing in a given amount of time. It varies depending on the goal at hand. This can change depending on the exercise selection and how it is managed. Intensity: This is the amount of effort we are producing as a result of our weight training. It is important to keep in mind that we are not working out to reach our ideal fatigue threshold. When it comes to hypertrophy, we need to be at a close proximity to failure to perform the exercise. This is the range of 3 to 5 reps and under to failure of the exercise. Exercise Selection: When it comes to exercise selection, the goal is to find the right stimulus to work the muscle. This can be done by analyzing the muscle's volume and intensity. This tool can help us manage injuries and improve the quality of life for our clients. It can also be used for minimizing stress. This can also help with new clients who may find it overwhelming to perform a certain type of exercise. It can also discourage them from training as it can be very challenging for them. Frequency/time availability: The frequency of training is the amount of time that the client has available to train. It is also the amount of work that the client has put in to get there. Frequency can be used to our advantage by manipulating some of the other factors such as exercise selection. This allows us to develop a better environment for adaptation. For people who only train 3 days per week, a full body training program may increase the frequency of muscle protein synthesis and increase the growth potential of their muscles. This process lasts for around 48 hours after training. Skill adaption is a great outcome from frequency. The more people perform an exercise the more efficient they are going to get at it. The better the results will be for them.

Everything can change depending on who you are and what you want. For an athlete, it’s important that they follow the principles of training in order to be injury free. However, for others, like me, who are training for general health reasons, they still have to follow the same principles. This person will still need to be specific in order to plan for their goals, but for the general population, it's easier to plan for them since they already have a plan in place. Now that we have gotten the basic principles and variables, we can start planning a training program.


We consider all the factors that go into creating a program that works for you and your client. What time frame do individuals have to reach their goals and how much time do they have to put into training each day?


The principles are now guiding us as we develop the program. A good program should start by asking yourself some key questions. For instance, what kinds of exercises are they going to do? How often will they train? How much intensity will they need to achieve their goals?


You can make pancakes with all the basic ingredients, just like you would with crepes. The key is having the right foundation. Sometimes, you over-add or over-produce certain ingredients or toppings, which can make a pancake not a good one. On the other hand, making it just the right number of toppings makes it a good pancake.


If you don't have the basic ingredients, you don't have a pancake. If you don't have the fundamental principles, you don't have a training program. Gather as much data as possible to get a foundation for your principles.

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