4 Ways to Write Training Programs Faster

programmingBack in the day when IFAST first opened, Bill and I were the first, last and only line of defense.

We assessed every client personally.

Wrote all their programs.

And obviously, did all the coaching to boot.

It was strange – I would be exhausted phyiscally at the end of the day (working from 5:45 am to 7:15 or 7:30 pm will do that to you), but mentally I had a ton of energy because it was so much damn fun!

I clearly remember sitting down one Friday afternoon, though, and realizing that I had over 20 programs to update that week.

Needless to say, when you have to crank out that volume of programming on a weekly basis, you get your sh*t in order pretty quick!

Here are four ways that you can increase not only the speed at which you write a program, but their effectiveness as well.

#1 – Outline Your Progressions & Regressions First

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said this, but I know people still haven’t done it so I’ll say it yet again:

Take 1 hour this weekend and write down all your progressions and regressions for the basic movement patterns.

If you need a starting point, here goes. You should have a progression and regression for all of the following:

  • Quad dominant lifts,
  • Hip dominant lifts,
  • Vertical pressing lifts,
  • Vertical pulling lifts,
  • Horizontal pressing lifts,
  • Horizontal pulling lifts,
  • Core training, and
  • Single-leg/split-stance lifts.

At the very least, this gets you in the progression/regression ballgame.

I’d also venture to guess this step alone get you into the top 10% of trainers out there, because more are either unwilling or unable to take the time to do this.

Obviously there’s more to it than what I outlined above. Eventually, you can take it to the Nth degree and have this for your warm-ups, plyos, metabolic conditioning, recovery work, etc.

But this is a great start.

If you take nothing else away from this post, please, in the name of all this is holy, write down your progressions and regressions ASAP.

#2 – Do NOT Try to be Creative

When you’re starting off as a trainer, I think we all want to make each program a Mona Lisa.

We want each program to be this wonderful and unique piece of artwork.

But you know what?

Most of our clients simply don’t need that.

Watch enough people move, and you realize very quickly that most people need a massive dose of the big, basic exercises.

Without time to really learn how to do these exercises effectively, they’re never going to derive maximal benefit.

Your average client also needs a lot of coaching on basic movement quality as well.

Watch most people squat, lunge, or hinge, and you’ll realize they don’t need 1,001 variations of a deadlift pattern – they need to actually learn how to deadlift!

Of course there’s a time and place for the Mona Lisa. I’d like to think I’ve written a handful in my day, but that was more due to the fact that I was working with an elite client, with a specific set of needs and goals that warranted that level of program.

If you’re writing straight-ahead fat loss or muscle-building programs, stick to the basics and milk those gains for as long as possible.

#3 – Have a Template for the Basics

When you write a ton of programs, you quickly realize how important it is to have a template with some of the basics already in place.

I think most of us who have been in the game 5, 10, or even 15 or more years have those programs or templates that we fall back on if someone needs to shed fat, build muscle, etc.

Dan John has the one-lift a day program, and Easy Strength, and a bunch of other awesome stuff.

Pavel has Enter the Kettlebell.

Hopefully you get what I’m throwing at you here.

If you work in a gym setting, the goal is to have a go-to plan or template for the standard programs you’re going to encounter.

What I did in this case was outline the basic movement pattern I wanted to use (i.e. hip dominant lift, quad dominant lift, etc.), but then had the following already pre-planned:

  • Sets,
  • Reps,
  • Rest Period, and
  • Weekly fluctuations in all of the above.

Again, the goal is to make everything you do more systematic and calculated in nature. Doing so will make designing your programs faster and more effective.

#4 – Batch Your Program Design

Last but not least, if you have 20 programs to write, it’s best if you sit down and write them all at once.

Imagine the two following scenarios.

Scenario #1 – You write a program.

Then you answer a phone call.

Then you write another program.

Then you do a training session.

Then you write another program.

How long is it going to take you to write all those programs?

And more importantly, how good are the programs going to be, since you’re constantly having to sit down and “re-start” your program writing engine?

Now consider the alternative.

Scenario #2 – You write a program.

Then you write another program.

Then you write ANOTHER program.

And then what? You write another program.

I’d liken this process to starting a car in the winter. Once you get the car warmed up and ready, you want to leave it on and keep it warmed up to make sure it’s running proper.

Writing programs (or doing any task, really) is no different.

Once you’re in the right mindset to write programs, you need to write as many as you can. This will make sure you’re doing it as quickly as possible, but I’d virtually guarantee you’ll write better programs as a result.


So there you have it, four simple ways you can make your program design faster and more effective.

And if you really want to step your game up, I’d highly suggest checking out the Ultimate Program Builder that I just released in conjunction with Tyler English.

This product gives you all of the following:

  • Four, three-month templates for fat loss,
  • Four, three-month templates for mass building and muscle gain,
  • A customizable warm-up template,
  • Metabolic training/conditioning templates, and of course
  • Progressions, regressions, and all the nitty gritty stuff you’ve come to expect from one of my products!

If you write a ton of programs on a monthly basis, or simply want to streamline your program design process, I think this product is a no-brainer.

That’s it for today everyone. I hope you enjoyed the post and make sure to use these tips next time you’re writing programs for yourself or your clients!

All the best


P.S. – The Ultimate Program Builder is on sale this week only for 50% off the standard retail price. Take a second to watch this short video and see just how easy it is to write customized programs for yourself and your clients!

Watch the Ultimate Program Builder video NOW!

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