How to Develop a Training Program
The process of creating a training program to help develop an individual's level of fitness comprises six stages:
The first stage is to gather details about the individual:
Before starting any training, you must have a medical examination to ensure it is safe for you to do so.
The second stage is to determine what components of fitness need to improve. It will depend upon what the individual wants to get fit for - to improve general fitness, get fit enough to play in the Saturday hockey league, run a local 5 km fun run or compete in next year's London Marathon.
Exercise scientists have identified nine elements that comprise the definition of fitness. The following lists each of the nine elements and an example of how they are used:
Of all the nine elements of fitness, cardiac respiratory qualities are the most important to develop as they enhance all the other components of the conditioning equation. You will need to consider which of these elements apply to the individual's training program based on why they want to be fit.
The next stage is to identify appropriate tests that can be used to determine the individual's level of fitness and monitor progress during the training. The Evaluation Test page identifies appropriate tests for each of the fitness elements.
The identified test should be conducted, and the results recorded.
We now know the individual's background, objectives, and fitness level. We need to conduct a gap analysis of the current fitness levels (from test results at stage 3) and target fitness levels (identified in stage 2). This process will assist in designing the training program so that each fitness component is improved to the desired level.
The following is an example of a gap analysis:
Gap analysis - Aerobic fitness and arm power are good and need to be maintained - sprint, agility and leg power tests are below target - leg power needs to be improved.
The next stage is to prepare a training program using the gap analysis and FITT principles.
For frequency, intensity and time, you should start at a comfortable level and increase gradually, e.g. 10% increments. Aerobic training should last for 20 to 40 minutes. Strength work should last 15 to 30 minutes and comprise three weekly sessions with 48 hours of recovery.
Plan the program in four-week cycles where the workload in the first three weeks increases each week (easy, medium, hard), and the fourth week comprises active recovery and tests to monitor training progress. The four-week cycles aim to:
The tests used to assess the individual's initial level of fitness should be planned into week 4 of the program to monitor the program's progress and effectiveness. The test results can be used to adjust the program accordingly.
The program must last 12 to 16 weeks to see any real benefits. The planning process should be conducted with the individual to feel they own the program. It will ensure the program is enjoyable and convenient to do.
The program has now been agreed upon, and the individual can undertake the program. Every four weeks, meet and discuss with the individual:
The following are example training programs:
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