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How to build a training program

Whether you are taking what you've learned from your ol' high school sports team training, done extensive research on the internet, or C&P'd from your favorite Instagram fitspo, you may have a slight and vague idea on how to build a training program. Even if you were taking bits and pieces of programming you've learned about in the past, it's likely not specific to current you, your current goals, or your current abilities. You're not 16 anymore, and that's completely normal and okay. Building a training program requires you to meet you where you are right now. Not where you were when you were 18 and squatting 2x your body weight. Not where you were 5 years ago pre-child. Not where you were pre-pandemic. Not even where you were during the pandemic. Where you are right now. You will want to identify your goals, training availability, and abilities (ranges of motion that could improve, areas you want to strengthen, etc.). From here, now we build the training program. First up, warm-up and activation (specific to your planned workout of the day). Then moving on to the bulk of the workout: COMPOUND EXERCISES Compound lifts are also known as your "big lifts" or "main lifts". They usually include multiple muscle groups, such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press, rows, etc. Compound exercises are usually found at the beginning of a workout because it requires more muscle recruitment and is likely going to be the heaviest lift. Depending on your goals and training frequency, you may have 1-3 compound movements planned for the day with more sets and less reps. ACCESSORY EXERCISES These are exercises that support compound movements by improving muscular imbalances both bilaterally and unilaterally. Some bilateral (both sides) accessory exercises could include: incline chest press, good mornings, lat pull downs, elevated heels squats, Z press, etc. Some unilateral (single-sided) accessory exercises could include lunges, SL deadlifts, SA push press, SA row, etc. Depending on your goals, these lifts will likely have less sets and more reps than your compound exercises. ISOLATION EXERCISES These are exercises that focus on one muscle group. Isolation exercises are helpful for supporting accessory and compound exercises, as well as increasing strength or endurance in a smaller muscle group. For example, a trail runner will benefit greatly from completing seated calf raises since it focuses on the soleus, which is a major power muscle for running. Examples of isolation exercises include: tricep extensions, bicep curls, calf raises, rear delt flys, etc. Isolation lifts will likely have similar or less sets and similar or more reps than accessory exercises. After the workout is completed, I suggest a doing a cool down. SAMPLE FULL BODY WORKOUT Warm-Up: Cat Cow Dynamic Lat Stretch Hamstring Sweeps Dynamic 90/90 Activation: YTIs Banded Lateral Walk Dead Bug Compound Lift: Deadlift Accessory Lifts: Elevated Heels Squat SA Lat Pull Down SL Hip Thrust Floor Press Isolation Lifts: Calf Raises Cable Abduction Cool Down: Figure Four Quad Stretch Calf Stretch Foam Roller Chest Opener Lat Stretch Learn more about my online programming.


Katharine Moustakes
Hey, friend!

I'm Katharine.

I'm a personal trainer, running coaching, and nutrition coach who's stoked about lifting, the outdoors, summit snacks, and my dog.


I understand that fitness is not your whole life. Fitness is a PART of your life. I approach training in a way that adds value to your life and longevity, so you can enjoy being active whether you're romping around in the mountains, playing with your kids, or signing up for your first 10K race.

I'm here to meet you where you are, so you can train safely and effectively, and gain strength and confidence both in the gym and on the trails.

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