How To Write a Personal Training Plan

Introduction to writing a Personal Trainer Plan

Personal Training program design can be complicated which is why it is important that a Personal Trainer knows how to write a personal fitness training programme for a client. This includes being able to write a multiple week Personal Trainer workout plan for a client and also to tailor individual Personal Training session plans for client needs. The below content will explore different areas of designing Personal Trainer workout programmes.

Remember for any Personal Trainer workout program or Personal Trainer session plan, the main consideration is the client. The Personal Trainer plan therefore should be specific to the client’s needs. If in doubt always seek the help of a qualified professional.

What are the first steps in writing a Personal Training plan?

Before any kind of personal trainer plan is written, the first thing that needs to be done is to establish where the client is and where the client wants to go. Once those pieces of information are known you can then look at how you would get the client there. Firstly, a personal trainer would assess where the client is. This involves doing a comprehensive consultation with the client to establish relevant facts about their current situation. It would involve speaking with the client to find out their history and background, and anything medical the trainer would need to be aware of. It would also involve actual health and physical fitness tests such as measuring body weight, body fat, blood pressure or strength etc. Please note it’s important at this stage to remember that if there are any medical contraindications or issues then consent from the client’s GP would need to be obtained.

An example of information that a Personal Trainer may glean from a client during a consultation is below. This information is then needed to design a Personal Trainer Plan. (This is just a sample not a full consultation list!) The results from this Personal Trainer consultation can then inform the creation of a Personal Trainer programme.



Resting Heart Rate (RHR)

72 bpm

Blood Pressure (BP)

120/80 mm/Hg

Body Mass Index (BMI)


Medical conditions



Once results from the consultation are established, a Personal Trainer would then look at the goals of the client.

What kind of goals should you set when designing a Personal Trainer Plan?

Once you understand where your client is coming from, what their background is, you have the measurements taken from their assessment and you’ve gone through the goals with them and you understand what they want to achieve, it’s then important to make sure the goals are robust and what we call SMART goals. A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. This means that we cannot have a goal which is just ‘to get fitter’, it needs to be something along the lines of – ‘to improve cardio-respiratory fitness by 10% within the next six months’, for example. Our intentions are therefore to always say exactly what we want to achieve, by how much and when. It is also important to make sure that it is a realistic and achievable goal at the same time.

Some examples of properly set Personal Training goals could be:

  • To lose 3kg of body weight within a 6-week period.
  • To reduce 10k run time to under 45 minutes, within 6 months.

As these goals are SMART it means that when the Personal Trainer programme is designed it is very clear and measurable as to what the Personal Trainer plan needs to lead to.

How do you put the goals in place within a Personal Training plan?

Once these SMART goals are agreed with the client, we now know where the client is and where the client wants to go. The next stage is to look at how we are going to get the client there, and for this it takes a lot of skill to design a proper, robust, fit-for-purpose personal training plan. The personal trainer would look to include exercises which are going to elicit change for the client towards their goals, whilst also meeting the preferences of the client. For example, if the client didn’t like running on the treadmill it would not be a good choice to put the client on the treadmill. It would be a better choice to find out what exercises they enjoy and to populate that into their programme.

Some example exercise sessions could be as follows:

  • 3 x 30-minute outdoor runs per week at an intensity of 70-85% MHR
  • 2 x 30 minutes resistance sessions per week, targeting all major muscles with 12-15 reps at a moderate intensity.

Such training advice would likely lead to improvements in cardiovascular and muscular fitness as well as weight management. So the above would be useful in a Personal Trainer programme for someone with such goals.

What are the Principles of Training and how do these apply to a Personal trainer Programme?

When we write a personal training programme we refer to what we call the principles of training. The principles of training are -

  • Progression - the programme must progress and get tougher as the weeks go on.
  • Reversibility - we must make sure that the client continues with it, because if the client stops the programme then they will obviously lose those gains.
  • Overload - we must make sure that the client is subjected to an intensity that is going to challenge them, and that therefore is going to elicit change.
  • Frequency - we must plan carefully to ensure that we detail how many times per week we are going to be doing this training programme.
  • Intensity - how hard is it going to be – what is the intensity for this training programme each week, remembering that it needs to progress.
  • Time - how long each session is going to be/how much time is each session taking.
  • Specificity - what different types of exercise are going to be used. It is important that it is specific to the goals, for example if they wanted to increase muscular strength then there would be resistance exercises included.

All of these principles of training should be considered by a Personal Trainer when creating a Personal Trainer programme. For example the intensity needs to challenge the client in order for the body to adapt. Then the intensity would need to increase as the client gets fitter to ensure the client is still challenged by the Personal Trainer plan.

The below example shows how a Personal Trainer plan may evolve to ensure the Personal Trainer Programme progresses to ensure overload.

Weeks 1-4

Weeks 4-8

Weeks 8-12


1-2 x 20-minute treadmill runs per week at an intensity of 70-% MHR


2-3 x 25-minute treadmill runs at an intensity of 75% MHR

3-4 x 30-minute treadmill runs at an intensity of 80% MHR


Designing a Progressive Personal Trainer Programme and using Periodisation 

Once we have considered those principles of training, we can then start to plan a progressive training programme. Sometimes you may hear the term periodisation, which is looking at planning out a structured and evolving progressive plan that is long-term. However, although periodisation is something which is in the personal trainer’s toolkit, it is usually sufficient to begin by purely putting together a progressive training plan to get your client started. This will involve looking at those principles of training and deciding what exercises are needed to elicit the change that the client has identified within their goals. For example, if the client’s goal was to improve cardio-respiratory fitness by 10% within six months we would make sure to plan out a programme that is going to have cardio-respiratory exercises at an intensity which will challenge the client, and we will make sure that we increase the difficulty of that programme as the client gets fitter.

To give an example of a progressive Personal Training program, the below gives a sample of what progression over 6 weeks may look like within a weekly PT session plan. Remember this is just an example, Personal Trainer plans are specific to the client!


I = Intensity

T= Time


Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6


1 x per week

1 x per week

2 x per week

2 x per week

2 x per week

3 x per week


70% MHR

67% 1RM

70% MHR

67% 1RM

70% MHR

67% 1RM

73% MHR

70% 1RM

73% MHR

70% 1RM

78% MHR

75% 1RM


10 mins CV training.

2 x 12 reps

10 mins CV training.

2 x 12 reps

12 mins CV training.

2 x 12 reps

12 mins CV training.

3 x 11 reps

12 mins CV training.

3 x 11 reps

15 mins CV training.

3 x 10 reps


Summary - how to write a Personal Trainer plan

Personal Training program design knowledge is essential for a Personal Trainer. This is why all of the above information about Personal Trainer plans is covered within our personal training qualification as students will learn about writing training plans for a clients. This means that all Study Active students and graduates will have these skills in their toolkit to be able to write long-term, progressive Personal Trainer programmes for their client. Such Personal Trainer plans can be as complicated or as simple as one desires, but it is very important to get the basics right first. Hopefully this blog has been a useful article in helping you understand the basics of designing a Personal Trainer workout plan.

Details of our personal trainer course offer can be found on our website. 

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