Workout Programming

Program design has to be one of my favorite aspects of coaching. The intricacies involved in designing a well thought out program and watching people make progress and personal records has been my life’s work. On the surface the concept is quite nuanced and certainly more complex than a checklist. Programming for an individual versus a group can make things far more complex. For the purposes of this article I want to keep things super simple and discuss how I view movement and how it leads to the program that you see at Westchester Fit.

Our sole focus here is to ensure that we make our clients happy. We want to make sure that the program is both effective and fun. In order for it to be effective our clients should be getting fitter, stronger, and faster. Keep in mind, the longer you’ve been with us, the fewer and far between these PRs come, but we can still focus on how you’re moving and making sure that you’re staying healthy along the way.

Programming for a class is exponentially more difficult than programming for an individual. You need to take into account different body types, strength levels, limitations etc. So how is it possible to construct a program that can work for the masses. You do so by understanding basic principles. What are the basic movement patterns? How do you program the appropriate energy system (cardio) workouts? How do you program enough for progress and not too much that would result in injury? There are many components involved but today we are going to focus on movement patterns. Generally I see 7 different movement patterns: Push, Pull, Squat, Hinge, Carry, Single Leg, Core. In their most basic form all movements can be categorized into one of those 7 parts. Let’s dive deeper.

When we look at pushing movements I think of the upper body. Think of movements like push-ups, dips, shoulder press, push press, push jerk, split jerk, handstand push-up, bench press etc. Anything where you are pushing weight away from your center of mass.

Again with pulling movements I’m thinking specifically upper body. These movements consist of pull-ups, chin-ups, kipping pull-ups, barbell rows, dumbbell rows etc.

Squat movements are specific the lower body and include things like back squats, front squats, overhead squats, goblet squats, dumbbell squats and more.

Hinge movements involve bending at the waist. We think of things such as deadlifts, kettlebell swings, good mornings, power cleans, snatches etc.

Carries are one of the most under utilized and all around pound for pound best exercises that can be done. At Westchester Fit we always program farmer’s carries, sandbag carries, suitcase carries, overhead carries and more. The movements really help to bulletproof the body and help build a stronger core.

Core movements include things like planks, hollow body holds, l-sits, sit-ups, toes to bar and more. These movements specifically target the midsection or trunk of the body.

Single Leg
Lastly we have single leg exercises such as lunges, split squats, step ups, pistols, single leg deadlifts and more.

When building out a well rounded program we look at incorporating the big 4 push, pull, squat, and hinge and then sprinkling in carries, core and single leg variations of movements to ensure that the body has a good basis of strength balance. You can’t go wrong with the basics. In fact you can almost always construct a perfect strength building workout simply by choosing a movement from each category.

For example if you’re someone that trains 3-4x per week on your own, and you’re constantly lost and unsure of what to do, pick 1 movement from each of the 7 movement categories, put them together in circuit fashion with small amounts of rest in between, and this is a perfect way to ensure that you’re getting a perfect, full body, functional workout. It’s actually my go to on vacation when I’m in a hotel gym.

Programming is something that I could speak about for hours. There are certain focal points if you’re more focused on endurance, versus absolute strength versus GPP. At Westchester Fit we try to prioritize GPP (general physical preparedness) as I believe it gives you the most well round approach to overall fitness. We obviously offer specialty classes such as “strength” which focus primarily on one function of the overall picture. I hope this article gave you a deeper insight into how we view workouts, programming and developing our clients.

  • Coach Chris

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