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How To Structure A Training Program

You wouldn’t set out on a long journey without a map. OK, maybe in the days of sat-nav and GPS, you would, but you’d at least need to key in your destination before getting directions to where you want to go.

Training is very much like a journey. If you don’t have a structured training program in place, then you will find yourself wandering in the wilderness, and although that might help get your step-count up, is it going to do you much good in the long run?

Before you set out on your training journey, it’s a good idea to map out where you want to go and how you want to get there.

A training program is much more than what you do in each session. It involves planning how long that session will be and when it take place.

You will also need to consider things like recovery and nutrition as part of your training plan, as you’ll want your body to be in its best shape when you tackle each session.

Here are some of the steps (don’t worry, there aren’t 10,000 of them) you need to take to put together an effective training program.


Begin At The End

To start putting together a training program, you need to think about the endpoint. What are your training goals? Are you training for a particular event like a 10k, marathon or triathlon? Are you just training to get your body in shape and feel healthier?

Starting with your goals in mind will help you focus on the exact type of training you want to do.

Some people might want to structure a training program to concentrate on a particular fitness area such as cardio, resistance training or improving flexibility.

The important thing is to have a clear picture in your head about what you want to see at the end of your program. Writing your goals down allows you to focus on what you want out of your training sessions.

How Long Have You Got?

Once you’ve settled on your goals, you’ll need to work out how much time you need to achieve those goals and, perhaps more realistically, how much time you have available. We all have multiple demands on our time between work, family and downtime (whatever that is).

Take time to work out how many sessions and how often training will bring you closer to your goal. For long-distance running, for example, you will want to build up from shorter to longer distances over time. This may involve shorter, more frequent runs to begin with as you make your way up to longer runs, which will require more recovery time.

It’s worth noting that while the amount of time you spend on a session is essential, the quality of training needs to be taken into account. A quick 30-minute HIIT session or weight training can be just as effective as spending an hour in another form of training.

So, if you find your time is squeezed, try and aim for the most effective exercises rather than concentrating on getting time in the bank.

Draw Up a Timetable

Once you’ve worked out which exercises will be the most effective when trying to reach your goal and you’ve determined how much time you have to spend, you need to draw up a training timetable.

Again, try to focus on the quality of the workout rather than racking up the hours. You will need to fit your training around your day-to-day routine, so ring-fencing time is essential.

When timetabling training, you will need to take in mealtimes and recovery days. You may start with a goal to train every day or train twice a day over a week, but you need to remember that your body needs time to get the nutrients it needs for recovery.

Recovery and Nutrition

Any training program should also focus on what you’re doing when you’re not training, as this can be every bit as important as the training itself. Training and nutrition go hand in hand, so it’s important to take on board the right foods and liquids at the right time to help you achieve your training goals.

What you eat and when you eat can have a major bearing on how effective your training will be, so you will need to schedule meals and snacks around your sessions to get maximum benefit.

Carbs are vital for providing glucose which gives us energy, and when training, you need a constant energy supply. Foods like oats and pasta give us slow energy release, which is ideal for energy-intensive training.

You can also take energy supplements and snacks before and after training to boost your need to keep you on the path to your goals.

Hydration is also another vitally important component of a training regime. Although we recommend drinking between 2 and 3 litres of water a day, that level dramatically increases when we are training. Therefore, it is important to plan for sufficient hydration within your training schedule. This can be done by increasing your water intake or taking hydration supplements which rapidly replace the electrolytes expended during training.

Recovery is important to any training regime and doesn’t just involve stretching after training and getting the proper rest. Nutrition plays a big part in the recovery process.

Training depletes our energy reserves and tears and pulls our muscles and tendons, so it is important to get the carbs and proteins into our body afterwards to begin the repair and recovery process.

It would help if you planned a post-training meal or snack which will contain the nutrients you need, and consider your daily protein intake to lock in the gains you have made from training. A variety of protein products are available which can aid recovery and maintain lean muscle gained during training.


Training is a journey, and while it is important to map out the path to your destination, you also need to be aware of the little pit stops along the way. Goal setting, assessment, recovery, and nutrition must be visited if you want to reach your ultimate destination.

Written By

The Performance Solutions Team