The 7 Training Program Templates All Coaches Need

Last weeks blog (Training Program Design 101) was a crash course on all aspects of program design from the monthly, weekly, and daily perspective.

Today, we're diving into how to put all of this information together into the most effective training split your your current goals and lifestyle

Last week was theory, this week is application.

If you can't tell already, a LOT of thought goes into my online clients training programs, and the 12 Week training programs I'll be opening up soon (click here to hop on the waitlist).

The purpose of this blog series is to help coaches insecure about the program they're prescribing their clients OR themselves, finally feel confident in their programming abilities.

Sure, you can keep just giving your clients random exercises you saw on Instagram... but you're not helping them as nearly as much as you could be (and it's reflected in their results). Building a lean, strong body requires so much more than just doing random movements that feel hard.

Your training program needs to have the right amount of frequency, volume, and intensity for your clients. More importantly, it has to be something they can adhere to with extreme consistency to get results.

This is a huge part of what I do as a coach to get my online clients such great results - your program needs to be customized to you specifically, with your goals, limitations, and lifestyle taken into account. 

That's a program you'll be able to stick to, and one that'll create great results. 

So now that you have a deeper understanding of thought process behind the variables that ANY training program needs to take into account from Training Program Design 101, let's get into application.

Let's dive into how to determine the best training split for your clients, as well as exactly how to lay out each day of the program. 

Some things I consider when deciding an online client's training split include:

1. Lifestyle & Adherence

For your clients to achieve results from a program, it needs to be something they can stick to consistently for MONTHS.

The reality is, many of your clients have like tried and failed with the #nodaysoff approach more times than they can count.

If your clients are trying to train 6 days a week, but usually miss 2-3 training days due to time constraints or motivation... they'd get much better results following a 3-4x/week split.

Biting off more than you can chew will give you WORSE results than a training program you can be consistent with.

This is exactly why the 12 Week Fat Loss & Lean Muscle Gain Programs I'll be releasing soon have multiple options - this allows us to truly fit your training to your lifestyle.

2. Training Experience

Building lean muscle requires progressive overload. 

Basically, your total volume needs to increase over time. Volume is quantified as: "Sets X reps X weight = volume".

But, I don't math good. So let's just quantify volume as your number of hard sets. (Hard sets: sets in the 5-20 rep range, finished with 1-3 reps in the tank.)

Progression over time requires gradually increasing number of hard sets. This leads to eventually adding more training days to make room for the added volume/sets.

Now, this doesn’t mean “more volume ALWAYS equals more growth”.

→ Your maximum recoverable volume (MRV) is the maximum amount of volume your body can recover from and adapt to. When you’re over your MRV, results are worse, even though you're doing more work.

→ Your MRV increases over time. As you continue to incorporate progressive overload, volume gradually increases. But there’s most definitely a point of diminishing returns where volume becomes too much.

→ This varies a lot by individual, (and definitely isn't a fixed amount - check out the Resensitization Phases blog for more) but we can generally assume the longer someones been training properly, the higher their MRV will be.

Point being, if you’re new to lifting and start right out of the gate training 6 times per week - you'll likely get WORSE results than training 3-4 times per week. 

As you get more advanced like most of my online clients, training 4-6 times per week becomes smarter.

Signs You're At Or Near Your Ideal Number Of Hard Sets:

Your strength is consistently increasing on the compound lifts

✔ You're consistently sore.

✔ You're getting good pumps.

✔ You're pushing yourself, but don't feel "run down".

This where you or your client is at? Don't add sets or training days. Focus on adding weight to your compound lifts while staying in the 6-15 rep range.

Example:

You bench 225 for 8 this week. Aim for 225 for 9 next week. Once you can hit 225 for 12 (or whatever rep ranges you’re working in), bump weight to 235 and start over at 8. This progression naturally increases volume without having added sets/time in the gym.

Signs You're Doing Too Many Hard Sets

✘You feel beat up/run down.

✘ Motivation to hit the gym is low.

✘ Strength is stagnating or decreasing.

✘ No pumps.

If this is more like you or your client, it's probably time to decrease the number of hard sets you're performing. Focus on sleeping more, managing stress, and improving your diet. 

In this case, you're simply doing too much to recover from. Dial it back a bit.

Signs It's Time To Add More Hard Sets (And Potentially A Training Day)

✘ Recovery is good.

✘ Strength is stagnating.

✘ You're rarely sore.

✘ No pumps.

If this is you or your client, it's likely time to add in more hard sets.

3. Frequency

Studies seem to show that when volume is equated, training every muscle group at least twice per week is more optimal for muscle growth than once per week training. (1)

Example:

Doing 5 sets of 10 squats with 135lbs twice per week would create more muscle growth than doing 10 sets of squat with 135lbs once per week, despite volume being the same.

Now, there’s not much proof of additional benefit to training a muscle more than twice a week, outside of the increase you’d see in volume (which again, can reach a point of diminishing returns.)

As of now, your best bet seems to be making sure you're training everything with twice per week frequency. While more than this definitely won't hurt (given you manage volume and intensity properly), it's far from a must.

So, when you take all these different factors into account, you’re left with a couple different “most optimal” training splits that can realistically be followed by most:

→ 3x/Week Full Body

→  3x/Week Full Body/Upper/Lower

→ 4x/Week Upper/Lower

→ 5x/Week Upper/Lower/Upper/Lower/Upper or Lower/Upper/Lower/Upper/Lower 

→ 5x/Week Upper/Lower/Push/Pull/Lower

→ 5x/Week - Upper/Lower/Body Part Specialization

Again, when choosing your split, the most important thing is choosing a program you can stick to consistently, NOT the one that looks sexiest on paper.

Ok, let's get into what you came here for...

Building Your Training Split

Before we dive into samples of how I would design each split for you as an online client, let’s clear up some terminology:

→ Primer Circuits  —  Each training day starts with a circuit designed to prime your body for heavy lifting. DON’T skip this. You’ll increase your odds of injury, and get worse results. Perform the listed exercises consecutively, take a 30-second rest period, and repeat for three total rounds.

→ Rest Periods  —  Avoid the temptation of turning your workout into a giant circuit. Too short rest periods reduce your ability to overload the movements, and in turn change your body.

→ Supersets — Pairing two exercises back to back. This is indicated by a.) b.) OR a.) b.) c.) when you’ll be doing three exercises consecutively. Do exercise a.) - take the prescribed rest period (0.5–1 minute) - do exercise b.) - take the prescribed rest - repeat.

Got all that? Dope. Let's dive into the training splits.

3x/Week Full Body Split

A solid option for your clients who are super busy, or those who are relatively new to proper training (I bring on lots of new clients who have been "training" for years, but get great results on a full body split as it's the first time following an intelligent, periodized program.) 

Ideally, you would set this up with at least one rest day between each training day.

In the 12 Week Fat Loss Program I'm releasing soon, your training schedule looks like...

Monday: Full Body - Day 1

Tuesday: Optional Aerobic Work

Wednesday: Full Body - Day 2

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Full Body - Day 3

Saturday: Optional Anaerobic Work

Sunday: Rest

That said, the program does offset which movement patterns are trained, so you're good to do two training days back-to-back if needed. DON'T run all three training days consecutively.

Here's an template of how I'd build this for an online client ↴

3x/Week Full Body/Upper/Lower Split

Another great option for busy people, or those newer to proper training.

Again, you'll ideally have at least one rest day between each training day.

I typically program this:

Day 1: Full Body Strength

Day 2: Upper Hypertrophy

Day 3: Lower Hypertrophy

You now know training each muscle group twice per week is ideal. A full body/upper/lower split like this allows for a strength day, AND two size focused days, where the client is really able to focus on hitting specific muscle groups with a ton of volume and still get a great pump (hard to do with 3x/week full body).

Here's an template of how I'd build this for an online client

4x/Week Upper/Lower Split

This is one of my favorite training splits. It’s solid for most anyone but the most rank beginner, all the way up to those with years of experience in the gym. Really, this split can be scaled up for a long time, without seeing a drop off in progress.

The 12 Week Lean Muscle Building Program I'm releasing, the Upper/Lower Split Is Programmed like this...

Monday: Day 1 - Upper

Tuesday: Day 2 - Lower

Wednesday: Optional Aerobic Work

Thursday: Day 3 - Upper

Friday: Day 4 - Lower

Saturday: Optional Anaerobic Work

Sunday: Rest

Here's an template of how I'd build this for an online client ↴

5x/Week Upper/Lower/Push/Pull/Lower Split

This is a great option for more intermediate - advanced clients who have more time to focus to training. You can accrue a lot of volume across a week with this split, which also means we need to be very smart with movement selection and intensity. We don't want stress to outweigh recovery.

This split is fun, because the first two days (upper & lower) feel very "functional strength-focused", while the later three days feel much more bodybuilder-esque.

For optimal results, I recommend online clients run this split:

Monday: Day 1 - Upper

Tuesday: Day 2 - Lower

Wednesday: Rest or Aerobic Work

Thursday: Day 3 - Push

Friday: Day 4 - Pull

Saturday: Day 5 - Lower

Sunday: Rest

Here's an example of how I'd program this for you within coaching  ↴

5x/Week Upper/Lower/Upper/Lower Upper Split -Or- Lower/Upper/Lower/Upper/Lower

This is very similar to the above training split, but my preferred option for online clients who really want to focus more on lower body OR upper body, because here we're hitting either upper or lower with 3x/week frequency (as opposed to the 2x/week frequency with the U/L/P/P/L split).

I've used the Lower/Upper/Lower/Upper/Lower split often with my more advanced female clients who want more to spend a few months focusing on glute growth. In this situation, the final Lower day is very glute focused.

We also have to be very smart about exercise selection and intensity, so regardless if your 5th day is Upper or Lower, making it more focused on the mind-muscle connection & pump, rather than pushing heavy weight is smart.

This split is fun, because the first two days (upper & lower) feel very "functional strength-focused", while the later three days feel much more bodybuilder-esque.

For optimal results, I recommend online clients run this split:

Monday: Day 1 - Upper

Tuesday: Day 2 - Lower

Wednesday: Rest or Aerobic Work

Thursday: Day 3 - Upper

Friday: Day 4 - Lower

Saturday: Day 5 - Upper

Sunday: Rest

Just flip the Upper & Lower days to make this a lower body focused program.

Here, the same principles apply to the first four days of the week as with the 4x/week Upper/Lower split. The 5th day is where we need to take extra consideration  ↴

6x/Week Push/Pull/Lower/Push/Pull/Lower

Finally, we have the P/P/L/P/P/L split. As you can imagine, it's easy to rack up a lot of volume quickly when training 6x/week like this. So again, we need to be very smart about exercise selection and intensity.

This essentially means being sure to limit movements that are very neurologically taxing. If your training is entirely heavy barbell movements 6x/week, you'll have trouble recovering and actually making progress.

I'd typically set this up:

Monday: Day 1 - Push

Tuesday: Day 2 - Pull

Wednesday: Day 3 - Lower

Thursday: Day 4 - Push

Friday: Day 5 - Pull

Saturday: Day 6 - Lower

Sunday: Rest

Here's how I'd program this for an online client

And that is exactly how to program smart, fun, and effective programs for anyone - from beginner clients to the most advanced.

If you're ready to experience a 12 week, periodized program created by me using the principles from this blog, drop you email below.

When the doors open for this program, I'm limiting the amount of people who can join. Once the spots fill up, this program will NOT be available again.

You'll have a choice between an Upper/Lower functional bodybuilding program -OR- a full body strength/fat loss program. Both programs are designed to transform your physique, build functional strength & lean muscle, and push your energy systems to new heights.

On top of that, you'll have access to myself in a private community for accountability & support. We're here to answer any questions you have about the programs, your nutrition, etc.

Again, spots are limited. Drop your email below to hop on the waitlist, and among the first notified when the program opens ↴


About The Author

Jeremiah Bair is a certified nutrition coach, strength coach, and owner of the online coaching business Bairfit.

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