How to Design a Personal Training Program

A personal training program is a lot like the NASM study guide that got you through your certification exam.

It’s something that helps to bring structure, clarity, and focus so that a person can achieve their goal. Just like with a study guide, it’s all about working smarter and not harder.

The NSAM test had a lot of difficult content to master in order to get the grade you wanted. A study guide helps to make that information digestible and to leverage a student’s attention and focus on high-yield topics. This, in turn, means that on test day the student is more than prepared.

With a personal training program, it’s the job of the trainer to develop a structure that does a similar thing. The world of exercise is massive, and people can often times feel overwhelmed and intimidated by its sheer scope.

There seems to be an endless supply of exercises, techniques, workout routines, and variations. When someone hires a personal trainer, they are asking for help to understand this vast world and get the structure and clarity they need to reach their fitness goals.

Just like a great study guide, a personal trainer will put together a program that helps to strip away distractions and focus their client’s attention. With achievable goals, clear and precise direction, and a whole lot of encouragement, a personal trainer can help their client achieve their fitness goals.


If you have been wondering about the fundamentals of putting together a personal training program, here is everything you need to know.

The First Step – Listening

To become a certified personal trainer, you will have to undergo an impressive amount of education. Learning the skill necessary to put together training programs is no small feat. Not only that, but you will have to prove a master of this knowledge by passing certification exams that are known for being challenging.

When it comes to putting together a personal training program, every person will be unique and require different factors.

There are some fundamental skills that will translate to every client interaction though, and listening is the first and most important one to take into account.

One of the most important jobs that a personal trainer will have, is learning the needs of their clients and developing dynamic and thoughtful programs. This happens primarily through growing your skill as an active listener. When it comes to listening, there are two general forms of listening that person can employ, active and passive.

Passive listening is simply listening without interacting with the person who is talking. This does not imply or mean that a passive listener is listening less, or not as closely, but it doesn’t have the benefit of active listening.

Active listening involves paying close attention and showing a person talking affirmation of your attention.

This can look like asking questions that help clarify the message or giving them positive verbal affirmation that you are interested and tracking. This does two things primarily. First, it helps to encourage your rapport with your client and strengthens a sense of trust. Secondly, it helps you to really be challenged to understand what your client is saying as well. With careful listening skills, you can get to the root of their problems and have the information necessary to build a program tailored for them.

Make it Achievable

The second most important thing you will be tasked with doing is making your personal training programs achievable.

There is a fine line between challenge and unrealistic expectations. You want your programs to be challenging, and you want them to stretch your client, but you never want to discourage them.

This is where tracking progress can also be a powerful tool. By tracking your client, you can regularly assess where they need more challenges, or where they need to continue the status quo.

By ensuring that your training programs are achievable, you are teaching your client to find a sense of pride and accomplishment in the fitness world. Yes, the challenge is how you grow in strength when it comes to the gym, but when it’s not balanced, it can lead to defeat and discouragement.

Conclusion: Take Each Client One at a Time

When it comes to being a successful personal trainer, one of the most important skills you can develop is the ability to take every client in, one at a time. Being a personal trainer can get hectic and crazy.

There will be times when you feel like you may have too many clients that you are working with. In these times it can feel tempting to start mashing programs together.

While there are going to be certain programs that seem more universally helpful, the truth is a client deserves to have a program that’s personalized to them. Not only will this extra effort benefit your client, but it will boost your career as a personal trainer.


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