So I know and have seen plenty of personal trainers who struggle to come up with new exercises for their clients or feel they're stuck doing the same type of exercises based on the type of client.  In a weight training session the client will get bored. What I would like to dedicate this article to is what I call the "What, Why, and How Principle". I feel that there are some basic questions who should ask yourself of each exercise you deliver to your clients during a weight training session in order to become successful.


"What do want to accomplish with this exercise" Hopefully this is second to your assessment. Depending on your training you could look at this in many different ways. I'm only going to highlight a few, I'm sure you could and should be able to expand this list.  My recommendation to you is to have this list posted up on your wall wherever you write up your clients weight training sessions.

1. Planes of Motion: Make sure you incorporate all of them

2. Primal Movement Pattern: Focus on the primal patterns

3. Joint stability: If, after the assessment a joint appears unstable it should be focused on in the weight training sessions.

4. Kinetic Chain: You feel that your client could benefit from an integrated kinetic chain exercise such as training the anterior or posterior kinetic chain as a group

5. Myofascial Line: Following the myofascial lines if a clients movement is impaired goes a long way to helping them.  If you're unfamiliar with the myofascial lines I highly recommend a copy of Thomas Myers Anatomy Trains.

6. Muscle Isolation: If you deem it necessary.  Isolating muscle groups can help work out imbalances.

7. Muscle Integration: Integrating separate movements from a previous movement into one

There are lots of different factors to incorporate into a weight training session.  Try to think of some of your own and add them into the comments below.


So at this point you should already know the answer, but if you don't know why you wanted to train in a certain plane of motion for example, you would now assess your reasoning. Think not only of the clients problem, but the direct and long term effect of the exercise you are teaching them during the weight training session.

Think back to your assessment and make sure you cover all of your basis.  A good outline is to follow the Focus System laid out by Jon Goodman



This is the fun part! How do you wish to accomplish what you set out to do. This is where you would choose whatever tools needed.  Depending on what it at your disposal for the weight training session it could include a ViPR, Redcord or various free weights. This is also where you would take into consideration your acute variables such as: (Again a partial list) Reps, Sets, Load, Tempo, Base of support, lever arm, and the clients physiological condition.

A useful model

If you follow these simple rules it makes it easy to select the appropriate exercise within your overall model or periodization sequencing. This will also allow you to be creative with creating new exercises or modifying an existing once because you will have a purpose behind your program.

Just for our PTDC viewers I will even add a special bonus rule that will not only help you with your exercises but allow you to change your exercises on the fly or interchange them between clients with similar conditions.

Rule: 3+ / 3 -

For each exercise you create using the above system I want you to create 3 progressions and the regressions.  Keep these exercises written down and use them as an easy to follow guide that you can refer back to.  This will allow you to be specific in your program design and also allow you to make on the spot adjustments to your selection when and if needed.

Try it out, see how much more confident you feel when presenting the most complex exercise, or use this to create the complex exercise only to introduce the lowest regression and present a road map to motive your client up 6 levels in one exercise during their weight training session!