How to Build Your Own Training Program: A Complete Guide for Athletes

/ / Strength Training

There are a few reasons why athletes need to have some knowledge on how to properly and effectively design a training program. A major part in why I enjoy coaching is because I want to educate athletes to eventually have some skills that they can take with them during and after their athletic careers.

Now, if you’re somebody that wants to skip all of that, and JUST want to be told what exactly to do: 

We build customized workouts for you. We get to know your story and struggles, your goals, and your lifestyle, and develop a training plan that fits your schedule.

Here are a few reasons why athletes need to know how to design a training program:

  • There are going to be times that they won’t have access to a strength & conditioning coach
  • You want them to be able to critically think for themselves
  • It will reduce the chances of them getting hurt in the weight-room
  • It will help them understand the difference between a poorly designed training program and well-designed training program

Now that we understand the WHY, it’s time to dive into the WHAT and the How.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE DESIGNING A PROGRAM?

FACTOR 1: What is your goal?

This is the first step into figuring out how to plan for your training program. It’s okay to have a general goal at first because you’ll break that down into specifics after.

For example, if you’re goal to jump higher then you will need to break it down even more. How high do you want to jump? 2-6 inches more? Now your goal is to “add 2-6 inches to your vertical” because this is a good indicator that your power output has gone up.

FACTOR 2: How many training days can you do?

Figure out the amount of training days you can do that will allow you to stay consistent on a weekly basis. There are always going to be days or weeks that need modification and that’s fine.

If you don’t have any other sport specific practices then you might be able to train 4x-5x per week. But if you do have practices or other commitments then realistically you can only train 2-3x. per week. At the end of the day, it’s not about the quantity but the quality of those training sessions.

FACTOR 3: What is the duration of your training program?

Typically when planning a training program a general duration would be anywhere between 4-16 weeks. It varies because it’s dependent on your schedule. For example, most athletes only have about 2-4 months of offseason depending on their sport and level. This is key because you have to plan out your training program wisely. By knowing when you need to be ready and at your best for an upcoming season or competition, this will determine how long your training program should be and what you need to prioritize.

FACTOR 4: What kind of equipment do you have access to?

Most athletes have access to a gym but if they don’t then they have to tailor their program design based on what’s available to use. However, your access to equipment is not a limiting factor. You can still plan a good quality training program that will help you reach your athletic goals.

HOW TO DESIGN YOUR TRAINING PROGRAM

STEP 1: Determine the Duration & Phases of Your Program

This is important because it will help you breakdown how to progress weekly. It will make it easier for you to plan each day when you see the bigger picture. This will solve the tendency of most athletes that want to do everything in a day/week. By knowing that you have phases, this can help you focus on what you NEED for that current phase.

Here’s an example of a general overview of a training program.

  • 12-WEEKS OFFSEASON PROGRAM
    • Week 1-3: General Preparation/Strength
      • Early phases are usually for developing a base, improving work capacity, improving strength, and reducing injury-risk.
    • Week 5-8: Power development
      • Middle phases are usually for increasing intensity, decreasing volume, and developing more power.
    • Week 9-12: Specific Performance
      • Later phases are more specific. The focus is more on what’s important and removing unnecessary things that will hinder your peak performance. This phase is usually getting closer to the start of your season. So your training should be tailored towards having you GAME DAY ready.

STEP 2: Find Out How Many Training Days Per Week

Determining frequency of training days will help you further breakdown specific focus each day.

Here’s an example.

  • TRAINING DAYS
    • Monday: Top-end Speed
    • Tuesday: Strength
    • Thursday: Short Speed
    • Friday: Agility/Speed Endurance

STEP 3: How to Structure Your Training Days

This is the fun part. This is when you get to the nitty-gritty of your training program. This is when you pick certain exercises based on the focus for that specific day. The best thing you can do is to keep it SIMPLE. Focus on what’s important. Try to remove bias and just choose exercises that you like. If you have the luxury of having more training days in the week, use certain days to emphasize on different athletic qualities instead of doing everything on one day.

For example, Monday can be more of a speed day then the following day can be more focused on strength training. Train smart and maximize each day!

  1. Start with 3-6 WARMUP MOVEMENTS.
    • This could also be where you can do some of your pre-hab or rehab work to address limitations and injuries. To mix it up at times, this can also include some fun play-based activities to “fire” up the nervous system and have your body moving in different ways.
  2. The first block of exercise(s) should be your SPRINTS, PLYOMETRICS, OLYMPIC LIFTS, or ANY EXPLOSIVE MOVEMENTS.
    • Basically anything that requires a ton of focus, speed, power, and coordination.
  3. The second block of exercise(s) should be the big compound movements like a DEADLIFT, SQUAT, BENCH PRESS, etc.
    • After your explosive lifts, this block is where you should do movements that aren’t as explosive but are still demanding.
  4. The third block can be your ACCESSORY LIFTS.
    • They are any exercises that contribute to improving your primary exercises. For example, if you lack core stability during sprints – this is where you can do some core work to address that. Since they’re not as demanding like the first and second block of exercises, you can usually group 2 or 3 accessory exercises together.

Note: This is just a general guideline on how to structure a training program. You can modify this to fit your needs and goals. Sometimes you’re training program might be shorter or longer. It all depends on what you’re trying to achieve on those training days.

The length of your training session will vary but typically should last 50 minutes to 1 hour and half.

When it comes to HIGH PERFORMANCE TRAINING, it’s all about QUALITY. The more exercise you plug in doesn’t always mean better.

“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.” – Bruce Lee

Here’s a SIMPLE example of a training day.

WARMUP

  • Bird Dog
  • Glute Bridge
  • World’s Greatest Stretch
  • Snapdown Vertical Jump
  • Depth Drop

A1) Depth Jump 4×5 (Rest 2mins)

B1) Front Squat 4×5 (Rest 2mins)
B2) Plank Saw 4×8 (Rest 2mins)

C1) Dumbbell Split Squat 3x8each
C2) Plank Shoulder Tap 3x8each
C3) Dumbbell Bench Press 3x8each
(Rest: 1-3mins)

STEP 4: Keep Track of Your Progress

You don’t need a fancy excel sheet to write down your training plan. You can easily write it down on a journal or notebook. Tracking your training is the best indicator of seeing progress.

For example, if you’re goal is to add inches to your vertical jump then every week you should be testing your vertical jump using a phone to record yourself touching a backboard as high as you can or a measuring device like a Vertec or JumpMat.

This will help you adjust your training weekly and give you a guideline of what to do next. The key is to progressively overload each week. Also, having DELOAD or REST after 3 or 4 weeks is equally important to help accelerate your gains! The recovery after 3 or 4 weeks of HARD and CONSISTENT training is where you see the gains happen.

STEP 5: Be Consistent!

A carefully planned training program can only give you results when you can consistently stick to it. There are going to be days that you’re not going to feel the best but those days are when you need to dial in and focus.

These are the basics of a good program design. Do your best to plan what you need and stick to it! And the RESULTS will come!

If you have any questions about your training program, shoot me a comment below!

If you don’t mind having a Performance Coach to keep you accountable and help you build a customized program, Click below to start preparing for GAME DAY!

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