Episode 14. Program Design, or, “Proper Progressive Planned Personalized Programming”

Jul 18, 2016 | Episodes | 0 comments

Show Notes

We looked at the “custom” in custom workout. Both Scott and Kevin sell one-time workouts to on their websites, and for their ongoing clients, progressive personal programming and program design is a big part of what they provide. This episode was about what program design looks like: what kind of thinking goes into a program (and what kind of thinking should be avoided), what kinds of principles tend to stay consistent, and what needs variation, that kind of thing.

All About Program Design:

  • Consumers want to change programs every 4-6 weeks, but that’s missing the point of programming; 4-6 weeks is just not long enough to get accustomed to a program, in terms of the physical changes and adaptations that go on in the body.

  • It takes about 6, 7, or 8 weeks to reach the “Mastery Phase” of a program, and usually that’s the phase you really want to milk for all its worth.
  • You start with broad strokes (“this program is a 5-day program to sculpt a balanced physique” or “this is a 10-week powerlifting peaking program”) and then from there you can get more specific, and then tweak from there for individual clients.

  • If your goal is building muscle and a sculpted physique, you tend to need more variation in your programs than you would if, say, you were a powerlifter.

  • Strength is always built on the backbone of hypertrophy, and that’s one reason why both types of training have to be done in phases.

  • A lot of times Scott gets the biofeedback, “I’m not getting stronger” from clients, but that’s actually a great sign on a lot of programs. “Strength” is often not the goal of a program.

  • Scott has about 700 templates, but he probably consistently uses about 70 of them.

  • Kevin has several hundred templates that apply to certain situations.

  • There is a huge difference between “cookie-cutter programs” and what Scott calls, “template formatted needs-state considerations.”

  • For Kevin, what gets adjusted the most is simply the manipulation of volume and intensity. The basic principles stay the same.

  • Scott really likes Vern Gambetta’s term, “Planned Performance Training” over the usual term periodization. This is because you can’t fully, 100% predict in a linear way how someone’s body will respond to a program. Some flexibility has to be built in to account for this. Tweak based on how the body responds, not how it “should” respond.

  • An example of what Scott’s talking about is the base hit strategy.

  • With his increased focus on strength, Kevin uses more periodization in his programming. But even then, there’s *some* flexibility build in.

  • Kevin gives the example of writing out his plan on one sheet of paper, and then writing out “reality” on the other sheet of paper, and going back and forth, back and forth, adjusting based on the numbers he’s actually hitting in the gym.

  • Scott hates “tempo training.” (No really. He hates it.)

  • A program is alive. There is a constant back ’n forth between the program and trainee as the trainee keeps the program alive. Sometimes there’s active recovery. Sometimes it’s time to press on the gas. This is true of both strength and hypertrophy.

  • Mike read out the programs he’d received from Scott when he was a client:

5-Day Hypertrophy

6-Day Hybrid with Strength Focus

5-Day Hybrid (Innervation and MET)

6-Day Strength and Hypertrophy

5-Day MET/Olympic Hybrid

& then his sixth program was again the 6-Day Hybrid with Strength Focus.


  • Although the program was “the same,” it was very different because Mike was more developed. His workload capacity was way up, and therefore his recovery needs were affected, and so on and so forth. So it was the “same program,” but it was the right program for him for different reasons than it had been originally.

  • You think it will be “easier” the second time through, but it can actually be much harder because you’re capable of putting more into it.

Links / Resources mentioned

Kevin’s One-Time Custom Program

Scott’s One-Time Custom Program

The Base Hit Strategy in blog post form

Download a PDF of the Base Hit Strategy: