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Program Design: Phase 4 of the IFPA Personal Training System

The best program designs will take all the information you gather from your personal trainer client during the Client Consult and Assessment, Fitness Testing and your Exercise Prescription Phases and customize it for a very specific, safe, and effective Program Design to meet you clients’ needs as quickly as safety will allow.
For many of your personal training clients, Program Design can be relatively simple, providing of course, that your client has no medical restrictions to exercise. Unfortunately, because many people have lived inactive lives, with poor lifestyle habits, there are a growing population of people developing chronic disease, disabilities, and dysfunctions. These various disorders must be taken into your consideration in Program Design development.
Program Design for the Beginner:
Using the typical beginner for example: a personal training client who has not exercised for over one year, maybe slightly to moderately over-weight, and expresses a goal to “lose some weight and firm and tone-up,” but has no medical restrictions to exercise.
Exercise Prescription (Phase 3 of the IFPA Personal Training System) Rationale:
Fitness Testing (Phase 2 of the IFPA Personal Training System) data indicates no serious disorders or contraindications. Your knowledge of exercise physiology (Phase 6 of the IFPA Personal Training System) helps you realize that the client has gained some fat and lost some muscle. Their metabolic rate has slowed due to this unhealthy change in their body composition. Your goal is to gain muscle and lose fat. You already know from your IFPA Personal Trainer Course that the fastest, safest, and most effective approach to accomplishing this is the following Exercise Prescription based on the 3 IFPA Components of Fitness that have the biggest impact on fat loss: Strength, Aerobic Endurance and Flexibility.


Strength Training:
2 or preferably 3 days/week on NON-contiguous days, i.e.: M, W, F.
Moderate and gradually build with 15 Rep sets, 15 RM* by the 3rd or 4th workout
1 set of the basic strength exercises of 15 Reps
Strength Training machines for the first 1-2 weeks, progressing to Free Weights as appropriate
*RM = Repetition Maximum: The amount of weight you can do at the specified number of repetitions.


Aerobic Training:
6 or preferably 7 days/week
Low to moderate, starting at 60-70% of MHR(Maximum Heart Rate)
10-60 minutes(note: some research shows an increase in cortisol levels after 45 minutes of continuous exercise. It is unclear if this occurs at low intensity levels)
Walk/Jog/Run as appropriate or other weight bearing exercise(non-weight bearing when any Musculo-skeletal issues present)


Flexibility Training:
Up to 7 days/week, 2-3 times/day for fastest results
LOW: stretch to the point of “Tight!” But NEVER PAIN!
Hold the stretch position for 30 secs, then an additional 30secs in a slightly deeper “Developmental Stretch”
But: NEVER PAIN! The stretch will be held for a total of 60 seconds. Never hold a stretch for 90 secs. or more
Static Stretches. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation(PNF) with a qualified IFPA Certified Personal Trainer 
From this Exercise Prescription, you build your clients Program Design:
Strength Training Program Design: One Set each of
1)  Squats
2)  Leg Curls
3)  Chest Press
4)  Lat Pull-down
5)  Shoulder Press
6)  Arm Curls
7)  Arm Extensions
8)  Shrugs
9)  Heel Raise
10) Crunch
Aerobic Training Program Design:
1) Start at lower end of training range as a Warmup, i.e.: 60% of MHR for 5-10 mins(longer if client is older/deconditioned)
2) Increase to desired training range, i.e.: 65-70%
3) Plan on a Cool-Down and Stretching at the end of your workout
Flexibility Training Program Design: 
1) Hamstrings Stretch

2) Quadriceps Stretch 

3) Piriformis Stretch 

4) Calf Stretch 

5) Top of Foot Stretch 

6) Bottom of Foot Stretch

7) Adductors Stretch

8) Hip Flexors Stretch 

9) Buttocks and Hips Stretch

10) Low Back Stretch

11) Lateral Torso Stretch

12)  Cobra Stretch

According to Dr. Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome, even the best Program Design is only effective for about 2 and 1/2 weeks. After 2 and 1/2 weeks the body has adapted and needs new stimulus to continue to adapt. Something needs to change. IFPA Personal Trainers provide new stimulus by manipulation of the Exercise Prescription and Program Design. Within the Exercise Prescription, the Personal Trainer can increase any one of Frequency, Intensity, Time or Type, but only ONE at one time and by no more 5-10%, depending on your client’s age/condition and ability to recover/adapt from the previous workout. 
Personal Trainers adapt Frequency by adding sessions, i.e.: going from 2 sessions to 3 sessions/week.

Personal Trainers adapt Intensity by making a set “Harder”, i.e.: going from 15RM sets to 12RM sets.

Personal Trainers adapt Time by adding sets/reps, in strength training, i.e.: going from 1 set to 2 sets of each exercise.
Personal Trainers adapt Type by changing Mode, i.e.: going from Machines to Free Weights. Or Changing the Program: i.e.: going from a “Single Set,” to “Multi Set,” or “Super Set,” Systems. Refer to page 227-229 in your IFPA Personal Training Text for the listing of over 40 different Strength Training Systems.
By the third workout, most of your clients will be able to progress to 15RM sets. This will be dependent of your clients’ age, condition, and ability to recover/adapt.
By the third week, most clients can progress to 2 sets of each exercise. This will be dependent of your clients’ age, condition, and ability to recover/adapt.
Also, you MUST remember to ALWAYS adhere to the exercise physiology principles you learned in your IFPA Personal Trainer course(SAID, GPO, FIIT, etc.)and the guiding principles provided in your textbook.  
Exercise Prescription and Program Design are not difficult concepts, but they do require your attention to detail and the use of all the knowledge you learned in your IFPA Personal training Course. 


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