Individual Design Coaching: Design Your Program

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Program Design

There’s that picture again.  I like to show that picture.  It’s the “health house” that I’ve expounded upon numerous times.  This time, it’s in the context of explaining Individual Design Coaching.  Earlier, I wrote about the Consultation, and then the Assessment.  The next step is cooperative: designing your program.

When WE go to design your program, WE always prioritize lifestyle first.  Notice the “we” there?  This is important because program design is not a one-sided, authoritarian, or dictatorial affair.  Program design is cooperative.  I can only program exercises or activities for you that you’re actually interested in doing, and that you feel confident that you can complete.

So, when we start programming for you, we always begin by considering your lifestyle.  This means a few different things.

  1. It means that the first thing we want to work on is establishing consistent practice of the Basic Lifestyle Guidelines.
  2. It means that we don’t want to try to build difficult nutrition or exercise habits on top of a shaky foundation, so we can keep those things in the slow lane while the lifestyle challenges get worked out.
  3. It means that any changes we propose to make in your nutrition or exercise behaviors have to fit into your lifestyle and be sustainable within your lifestyle.

The next thing we consider is nutrition.  This is all done within the context of your own personalized nutrition plan, so it will be different for every individual.  I wrote quite a bit about personalized nutrition recently, so you can check that out for some more specifics ideas about what I do when programming nutrition changes for people.

Why does nutrition come before exercise?  Because the food you eat is what your cells and tissues are actually made of.  The way you eat and drink determines not only the fuels and resources available to your body, but also the state of your digestive, endocrine (hormones), and nervous systems.  All of these considerations are critical to your body’s ability to adapt to training.

Finally, we consider exercise itself.  And there is a whole lot to consider in programming exercise.  This is where all my lifetime of experience with physical activity comes in.  I’m thinking about cardio, about resistance training, and about your ability to move.  I’ve got a huge mental library of exercises or activities to pull from.  I’m weighing all the options available to you and considering your resources.  It’s a complicated process that I’m not going to be able to explain fully in a blog article.

One easy way to break this process down is with the concept of the “3 Ps”: Prioritization, Planning, and Periodization.

  • Prioritization.  This is the process of identifying the priorities for you in training.  These will come from a combined understanding of your exercise history, your strengths and weaknesses from assessment, and the goals you are pursuing.
  • Planning.  This is the process of strategizing ways to address those priorities.  This is where I consider the tools and resources available to you, the time you have to devote to this work, and the knowledge of skills we want to develop in the pursuit of those priorities.
  • Periodization. This is when it all gets laid-down on a calendar.  This is thinking about periods of time: the year, the quarter, the month, the week, and the day.  The work is cumulative, and assessments or tests are repeated from time to time.  There are competitions, events, or vacations that need to be planned around.

At the end of this process, we end up with a plan for new behaviors, improvements in nourishment, and daily workouts.  This is the program.  Now, as my friend Leland likes to say, “There ain’t nothing to it but to do it.”



Published by nicnakis

Nicholas |nik-uh-luhs| n. a male given name: from Greek words meaning "victory of the people" John |jon| n. a male given name: from Hebrew Yohanan, derivative of Yehohanan "God has been gracious" Nakis |nah-kis| n. a Greek family name derived from the patronymic ending -akis (from Crete) Amha |am-hah| n. an Ethiopian given name meaning "gift", from Geez Selassie |suh-la-see| n. Ethiopian name meaning "trinity", from Geez

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