CREATING YOUR OWN EXERCISE PROGRAM – Part 2: Program Development
The journey to becoming your own personal trainer continues with Part 2 of the “Creating Your Own Exercise Program” series. You will learn key elements necessary to begin developing your chosen exercise program and how to use those elements to build a solid program foundation.
Please refer to Part 1 to learn how to choose an exercise program.
Before heading to the gym or starting your program, it is important to have a plan already laid out. Long-term fitness improvements are usually seen 6-8 weeks into an exercise program, so creating an overall outline of your program will increase the probability of long-term program commitment. Having your program mapped out ahead of time will also increase the success and safety of each session by ensuring that the program has a logical sequence and progression.
The structure of a training program revolves around the following components of each training session :
- 1. Objectives for that sessions – based off previously determined program SMART Goals
- 2. Warm-up
- 3. Conditioning phase (cardiovascular, strength, core etc.)
- 4. Cool down and flexibility
This is a vital component for the success and safety of each exercise session. A warmup is used to prepare the body for movement by gradually elevating the body’s temperature, heart rate and blood flow to muscles and stretching muscles that are going to be worked, which will increase the body’s range of motion of muscles and joints, mobility, stability and strength.
Developing the Warm-up:
- – 5-10 minutes
- – Low intensity activities for large muscle groups – i.e. if brisk walking is your goal for the conditioning phase, a slow walking warm up is substantial
- – Use a dynamic mobility warm up (stretches done while moving) to stretch major muscle groups after the low intensity activity
DYNAMIC WARM-UP: is a functional way to stretch muscles in a manner that mimics the exercises that will be performed during the conditioning phase to better prepare the body for the movements.
*Video example of a dynamic mobility warm up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWbSaPItvTg
This phase includes the actual cardiovascular, strength and/or core training components of the exercise session. This phase is usually 20-60 minutes long. It is important to be aware that training programs that exceed 60-90 minutes, excluding the warm up and cool down, can cause a rapid decline in energy levels leading to increased risk of injury and program drop out.
Developing the Conditioning Phase:
This requires the use of 5 structural elements…
- – Frequency: # of sessions conducted in a given period
- – Intensity: the level of demand the activity places on the body
- – Time/Duration: length of time engages in the activities of the session
- – Type/Mode: type of training activity and/or training equipment
- – Progression: systematically increasing the duration, frequency and intensity of sessions during the span of the exercise program
Cooling down after an exercise session is just as important as warming up. The cool down allows heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure to gradually decrease back to pre-exercise levels. This gradual transition back to a resting state prevents dizziness or possible fainting and helps the body begin its repair process.
Developing the Cool-Down:
- – 5-10 minutes
- – gradual decrease of intensities – try to decrease heart rate below 100 beats/minute
- – incorporate stretching techniques to enhance flexibility
Flexibility relates to how much range of movement your body’s joints have. The more flexible the body, the more mobility the joints have which leads to enhanced physical performance and lower the risk of injury. Post workout stretching is usually done using “static stretching” techniques on muscles that are used during exercise sessions.
*Below are examples static stretches
Achieving results from an exercise program is dependent on the amount of effort put into each exercise session, not necessarily the time spent doing the session. This is why having a plan is so important for not only an exercise session, but for the success of the whole exercise program.
The art of developing an exercise program is being able to design exercise sessions that adequately stress the body systems without overtaxing them. The remainder of the series will teach you how to design effective exercise sessions and then how to implement them into your exercise program.