• Chris K

The Last Program: What A Training Plan Should Look Like At The End Of The Coaching Journey

Today, we look into the question "what should a general population client's last program look like?"


Our first concern is putting together a plan which works.


For the general population this usually means a plan good for building some muscle and cardiovascular fitness, improving or maintaining mobility and doing all that in a time-effective way.


Our next concern is how to build a clients ability to train themselves away from their coach.


Some of the most important parts of coaching fostering autonomy, relatedness and competency.


This is encompassed by something called SELF-DETERMINATION THEORY.


Autonomy is feeling you can achieve something by yourself such making decisions.


Competency is feeling you are good at something.


Relatedness is feeling you are part of something and can contribute towards the community you are part of.


My programming is centred around fostering these three things in the gym environment in the hope this improves people's lives.


Coaches who train the general population can undermine a clients competence with programming which makes people feel like they look silly or by selecting weights a client doesn't feel they can lift yet or imposes too much demand on the person.




Competence is enhanced by giving clients an optimal challenge, and by providing positive feedback in the appropriate places.


Relatedness is threatened by over-criticism, so make sure your feedback is always delivered in a respectful way inspiring action over hurt feelings.


Relatedness is threatened by too much competition including with yourself, so make sure programming contains appropriately chosen exercises.


Relatedness is enhanced by a client trusting their coach, by immersing the client in an inclusive environment and making a client feel safe.


Autonomy is threatened when goals are imposed on someone by a coach, doctor or someone else.


If a coach focuses too heavily on physical results like PBs, weightloss, muscle-gained, and other metrics without the client being invested in them you will run into autonomy issues.


If a coach tries to control or micro-manage the process inappropriately then autonomy is threatened because their hand is being held too tightly.


Autonomy is challenged by threats and aggressive deadlines so try to avoid any "left this or get fired" situations!


Autonomy is enhanced by choice and you'll see below that our selection of programmes involves a truckload of choices which our clients have gradually been taught to make effectively.


Autonomy is further enhanced by educating your clients and informing their choices.


An example of this is taking your client through various squat variations and explaining which ones would be good/better/best for them, arming them for when "squat variation of choice" pops up in a program.


As coaches, we should gear our programming towards fostering competancy, relatedness, and autonomy if someone is to maintain a habit of lifting for life.


Micro-managing every aspect of your clients training isn't going to create much growth in the long-term, it is going create dependence where it isn't needed, which isn't autonomy.


Keep in mind that some clients are happy to be dependent on a coach.


By focusing on fostering self-determination a client will end up achieving as much as if you were to micro-manage every aspect of their journey but it will be more satisfactory because they are driving the ship rather than it being because "coach told me to."


Today's article lays out how a clients training will look if they reach a high level of self-determination when it comes to training.


When your client reaches this stage your client will become someone knows how to do it, feels competent at planning and executing training and has a sense of belonging in the fitness environment.


Self-deter...what?


Self-Determination Theory



"What are the three components of self determination theory? "The theory looks at the inherent, positive human tendency to move towards growth, and outlines three core needs which facilitate that growth. Those needs are Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness."


The aim is to involve the client in as many decisions about their training as possible.


It may start with one decision e.g. how many times they will train each week and end with the client making or being involved in the majority of the decisions about their training.


The Program


*Note* These are just examples, individualisation will still be needed.


We'll cover examples from 1-4 sessions a week as you won't have many gen pop clients whe require more than that.


X1 Weekly Session


1. Squat pattern of your choice (10-15 mins) (3-8 reps per set)

2. Deadlift/ Hinge pattern of your choice (10-15 mins) (2-8 reps per set)

3. Upper body overhead press of your choice (10-15 mins) (3-8 reps per set)

4. Upper body overhead pull of your choice (10-15 mins) (8-15 reps per set)

5. Upper body horizontal press of your choice (10-15 mins) (5-12 reps per set)

6. Upper body horizontal row of your choice (10-15 mins) (8-15 reps per set)

7. Arm/Core/Calf/Mobility/Rehab party of your choice (10-15 mins)


x2 Per Week


A


1. Squat pattern of your choice of your choice (10-15 mins) (3-8 reps per set)

2. Upper body horizontal press of your choice (10-15 mins) (3-10 reps per set)

3. Upper body horizontal row of your choice (10-15 mins) (8-15 reps per set)

4. Knee flexion hamstring exercise of your choice (10-15 mins) (6-12 reps per set)

5. Arm/Core/Calf/Mobility/Rehab/Finisher party of your choice (10-15 mins)


B


1. Deadlift/hinge pattern of your choice of your choice (10-15 mins) (1-6 reps per set)

2. Upper body overhead press of your choice (10-15 mins) (3-8 reps per set)

3. Upper body overhead pulldown or pull up of your choice (10-15 mins) (3-15 reps per set)

4. Single leg/ split stance exercise of your choice (10-15 mins) (6-12 reps per set)

5. Arm/Core/Calf/Mobility/Rehab/Finisher party of your choice (10-15 mins)



x3 Per Week


A


1. Squat pattern of your choice (10-15 mins) (3-8 reps per set)

2. Upper body overhead press of your choice (10-15 mins) (3-8 reps per set)

3. Upper body horizontal row of your choice (10-15 mins) (6-15 reps per set)

4. Single leg variation of your choice (10-15 mins) (6-12 reps per set)

5. Arm/Core party of your choice (10-15 mins)


B


1. Deadlift/hinge pattern of your choice (10-15 mins) (1-6 reps per set)

2. Upper body press of your choice (10-15 mins) (3-8 reps per set)

3. Upper Body overhead pulldown or pull up of your choice (10-15 mins) (3-12 reps per set)

4 Upper back/calf party of your choice (10-15 mins)


C

1. Upper body press variation of your choice (10-15 mins) (3-10 reps per set)

2. Loaded carry variation of your choice (10-15 mins) (10-30m per set)

3. Upper body single-arm row of your choice (10-15 mins) (8-15 reps per set)

4. Single leg variation of your choice (10-15 mins) (5-15 reps per set)

5. Mobility/Rehab/Finisher party of your choice (10-15 mins)


x4 per week


A Legs 1


1 Squat pattern (10-15 mins) (3-8 reps per set)

2 Light hinge pattern (10-15 mins) (6-12 reps per set)

3 Lateral/wide stance exercise of choice (10-15 mins) (6-12 reps per set)

4 Knee flexion based hamstring exercise (10-15 mins) (6-12 reps per set)

5 Calf/sled finisher (10-15 mins)


B Upper 1


(Optional cardio of choice) (10-15 mins)

1 Horizontal press (10-15 mins) (3-8 reps per set)

2 Overhead pull up or pulldown (10-15 mins) (3-15 reps per set)

3 Loaded carry (10-15 mins) (10-30m per set)

4 Face Pull Variation Of Your Choice(10-15 mins) (8-20 reps per set)

5 Arm party (10-15 mins)


C Legs 2


1 Light squat (10-15 mins) (1-8 reps per set)

2 Heavy Hinge (10-15 mins) (3-8 reps per set)

3 Split stance/single leg (10-15 mins) 6-12 reps per set)

4 Knee extension based quad/glute exercise (10-15 mins) (8-15 reps per set)

5 calf/sled/swing finisher (10-15 mins)


D Upper 2


(Optional cardio of choice) (10-15 mins)

1 Overhead press (10-15 mins) (2-8 reps per set)

2 Horizontal row (10-15 mins) (10-15 reps per set)

3 Loaded carry (10-15 mins) (10-30m per set)

4 Core (10-15 mins) (5-12 reps per set)

5 Optional arm party (10-15 mins)


Programming Discussion


The main premise when putting together a program for the general population is "if you don't use it, you lose it" so we perform full body movements to maintain and/or improve joint range of motion.


More complex, compound movements involving heavy weights tend to be earlier in the plan when focus and attention is higher.


Cardio is done first so it gets done.


I like to use a heavy squat/light deadlift day and a light squat/heavy deadlift day so the person can focus most of their energy on one of the big lifts at a time.


Using a timer rather than an explicit amount of sets increases autonomy and competence and most clients/people enjoy the freedom unless you introduce them to this method prematurely or when the client isn't enterested in having more autonomy.


Single limb work is included in most sessions to make sure both sides of the body are developing fairly evenly.


Single limb work is a great and sneaky way to train your core, your balance and overall athleticism.


Noone wants one arm to be much bigger than the other. Not because of how it looks, more for the amount of wank jokes you'll have thrown at you.


Loader carries are included in the programs containing 3-4 training day programs as they are 1) enjoyed by most and 2) work well for many goals.


In terms of session frequency, i've seen people make progress on one session a week.


Most people aren't satisified with one session a week and intend to train four or five times, try to do that, fail, feel guilty and end up training 3 times a week.


So most of my clients train 3 times a week.


Why 10-15 minutes per exercise? That's enough time to get 3-8 sets in which will achieve most goals.


This allows people to decide on the volume of work they do on the day.


They can go heavier and do less sets (focussing on intensity) or they can go lighter and do more sets (focussing on volume) during this time period.


The rep ranges I've chosen are based off what has worked for my clients throughout my.


It's probably influenced by fibre type, exercise difficulty and how quick technique tends to break down amongst many other things, but it's mostly based on "this amount of reps seems to work best for this exercise at this point in a workout."


Slipping in and out of autonomy, competency and relatedness


Self-determination is a sliding scale. Things happen in life that make people unable to act with autonomy and competence or to feel relatedness in a meaningful way.


Self-determination is threatened in a big way when things change like when having a child, moving house, being injured and other life things.


When self-determination is threatened clients are often more reliant on a coach.


This is why you'll often get a client back after a few years away. They get injured or lose their way so bring you back in to help them rediscover some direction.


You solve the issue as a team and they leave again. Boom. Job done.


Interestingly, clients like these often give the most glowing testimonials.


"I often say that I have many athletes on my books who are outsourcing their motivation to me."


Mike James, The Endurance Physio


You can hear my podcast with James HERE.


There are people you'll train who spend all day making decisions and have no interest in you trying to foster the various aspects of self-determination.


They want to be told what to do, they want you to make all the decisions in the gym for them and to follow the map you put in front of them.


You'll often hear things like:


"I make enough decisions at work."

"I don't want to think."

"I don't care, just tell me what to do."


These are normally people who are outsourcing their autonomy on purpose.


It's an example of good competency as they know they are or will become burnt out and want to reduce the amount of decision making in their life.


Don't try to change their mind. Give them an amazing experience and save your autonomy fostering for those who need and want it!


The Results



When a client reaches the ability level enabling them to follow the above program they will usually encounter the following results:


- High gym autonomy

- Increased feelings of training competency

- Increased of maintained muscle mass

- Increased cardiovascular fitness

- Less gym-related anxiety

- (Going out on a limb here) more carryover from the gym into everyday life


After writing most of the above article I realised that the above program is a few steps away from being fully in the hands of a client.


The steps beyond the above example programs would be something like:


X1 session per week


90-120 mins


X2 sessions per week-


x2 full body sessions


60-90 mins each


X3 sessions per week-


Upper/Lower/Full Body-


45-75 mins each


X4 sessions per week


Upper/Lower/Upper/Lower-


40-70 mins each


The next step would be simply:


X1 session per week- 90-120 mins

X2 sessions per week- 60-90 mins each

X3 sessions per week- 45-75 mins each

X4 sessions per week- 40-70 mins each


To go another step:


Program Option 1: Train for 90-120 mins across the week


Option 2: Train 120-180 mins across the week


Option 3: Train 135-225 mins across the week


Option 4: Train 160-280 mins across the week


To take autonomy to it's extreme your final programming for a client might involve one sentence:


"Perform your own high-quality training."


Is it the aim to get every client to that point?


Nope.


Treat each client as an individual and lean them into self-determination as far as necessary.


The above program will be a good base to train anyone from if you are a coach.


I'd recommend coming up with your own template for training your general population clients and learn to give them the most amazing coaching experiences.


Stuff to check out


Grafters podcast with Lisa Lewis

Self-determination

Lift The Bar self-determination theory course


By Chris Kershaw

The Heavy Metal Strength Coach



Instagram: @theheavymetalstrengthcoach

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