Third Space Head of Education, Josh Silverman, reveals the art of programming to ensure every reps counts.

It’s true, simply getting to the gym is half the battle and should be celebrated. But in a bid to truly improve your mental and physical fitness, you need to get specific. Designing a programme is not as simple as chucking a few exercises together and hoping for the best. Here I peel back the curtain to explain how we as trainers put together a programme as a whole, and then dive into the nuts and bolts of a good workout that you can apply to your own training. Mental notepad at the ready.

Step 1:
The client screen. Here we take a snapshot of how you move. It creates a starting point by allowing us to only programme exercises that you are capable of performing, without risking injury.

Step 2:
Focus on the client goal and progression of the sessions. Once we know what it is you’re working towards – fat loss, muscle gain, sports performance – we take a bird’s eye view of the programme and create a periodised plan.

These blocks (targeting strength, power or hypertrophy, for example) will last for around 4-6 weeks before progressing on to the next one. With these foundations in place you can then go into the more technical aspects of training with confidence.

Step 3:
Now we are at the nitty gritty of it all – session level programming.
At this point we split each hour session into blocks.
The education team at Third Space have created the perfect session structure to maximise results and ensure you get the best out of each session.

The Primer
This is what we call the warm-up. (We don’t use the term “warm up” as it isn’t as simple as just ramping up heart rate.)

We recommend you start with the process of “Release & Reposition”. This uses both soft tissue manipulation (with a foam roller or trigger point therapy) and activation drills to improve joint alignment. This will switch on your muscle strength and movement potential before the workout.

Next, it’s time to “React & Ramp”, which is where it gets tough. It’s now time to introduce explosive movements with equipment such as medicine balls to both fire your nervous system and ramp up your heart rate. Think of this as waking up the system and getting it truly ready to train.

Core
OK, now it’s time to lift some heavy stuff. This is where compound movements and major muscle groups come to the forefront – the bang for your buck exercises. Make one of the big lifts the focus of your session; think squats, deadlifts, cleans, presses and pulls.

Accessories
Heavy metal completed, this is where you focus on smaller muscle groups or movements in order to assist the Core exercises. This is also the part of the workout that allows clients to troubleshoot weak points – for example, work in some split squats to back up your heavy squats and build up your single-leg stability for better sports performance.

Transition
The final part of the session is what we call “client needs”. This is where you might revisit reposition techniques and release techniques to further focus on weaknesses. Or, if you’re feeling good and moving well, it’s time to start looking at energy system development (ESD). That’s the sweaty stuff.

Finish your workout with a collection of exercises that spikes your heart rate and you’ll benefit from the fat loss and stamina-boosting benefits it affords. Then catch your breath and hit the showers in the knowledge you’ve nailed a well-rounded, super-effective workout.

From reading the above it is clear where the focus of every session lies – I mean, it’s called Core for a reason!

This is where the magic happens, but, if it’s not done properly, it’s also where the likelihood of injury lies. It’s vital that these techniques are performed as well as possible, both to prevent injury and to get the most out of every rep.

We created “Learn to Lift” workshops to do just this. In each session we focus on the major Core exercises that we see performed incorrectly in the gym.

We want to help: whether you’re a total novice or experienced squat rack stalwart, we have the tips that can help you truly progress. Never stop learning. Sign up via your class timetable.