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How to write a fitness program for beginners

Apr 09, 2023


How to write a fitness

program for


By: Katie Barrett, PT, IG- & Show Up Fitness Online Instructor

I just don't know how to program

If you are a personal trainer, you probably know how intimidating and frustrating it can be to write a program for your client. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “I just don't know how to program!”, I would be as the National Academy of Spectacular Marketing – NASM! Programming is the number TWO cause of anxiety among new trainers (one being sales and asking for money!) Let me assure you, we understand, and we are here to help! Show Up Fitness has developed the easiest, most stress-free method of programming and we call it the CCA. CCA stands for Core-Core-Accessory and these 3 letters are about to be your best friends!

Core-Core-Accessory break down

Core refers to one of the eight core patterns of movement. When performed, the core patterns of movement work every major muscle group in the human body. We can easily identify the main muscles working in a given core pattern (agonists), and the secondary muscles working (synergists). When our clients say “I want a nice butt and toned legs like Carrie Underwood!” We automatically know that the hinge, squat, and lower body unilateral patterns of movement will take priority because the muscles make up these patterns of movement are the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. Let's say this same client has a secondary goal of building a sexy back&TOO EASY! Insert the horizontal pull and vertical pull. By incorporating these core patterns, we are directly targeting the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, posterior deltoids, and trapezius muscles. Now let's say your client’s third and final goal is to build some nice rounded shoulders. By programming the vertical push and horizontal push, we are targeting the anterior and medial deltoids as well as the pectoral and triceps muscles. Boulder shoulders&coming right up! Last but not least, we have our transitional & jumps. Transitional refers to an exercise in which your base of support changes, for example, a farmers carry. Jumps can range from anything like a squat jump to a broad jump and everything in between.

What is an ACCESSORY??

Now it's time for the fun stuff&ACCESSORIES! Accessories can be single-jointed exercises such as a bicep curls or triceps extensions, Prehab or rehab exercises Prehab guys link (if your client is working through an injury), your clients favorite exercises, ab exercises, and where we as Show Up Fitness trainers add VALUE by engaging with our clients. This can look like anything from holding a band for your client, using audible cues, lightly tapping your client (with permission of course), or using visual signals to challenge their brain as well! There is literally no limit to what you can do with the accessory portion of the workout. This is where we have FUN! This is what will make everyone in the gym jealous that they didn't hire you as their trainer!

This is where you add your own flair and get creative and make a name for yourself! To help you visualize what this looks like on paper:

Beginner Hunkette (women) workout plan DAY 1

1. Goblet Squat 12, 10, 10 (core pattern squat)

a. Pull Up 3-5 eccentrics ( core pattern vertical pull)

b. Bicycles with trainer engagement 10 per side (accessory)

Rest 1-2 minutes, get to know your client and provide an elite level of professionalism before the next set. Complete three rounds and then move into the next crcuit.

2. Step up 8-10 per side (core pattern unilateral)

a. 3-point DB row 12, 10, 10 each arm (core pattern horizontal pull)

b. Reverse DB flies with trainer engagement 10, 10, 10 (accessory)

Rest 1-2 minutes, get to know your client and provide an elite level of professionalism before the next set. Complete three rounds and then move into the next crcuit.

3. Floor Bridge w/ dumbbell 15, 12, 10 (core pattern hinge)

a. Landmine press 15, 12, 10 per arm (core pattern vertical press)

b. Lateral DB raises with trainer engagement 12, 10, 8 (accessory)

The beauty of this workout is: It takes almost exactly one hour to complete! Most of my clients only have about one hour to train, so it works perfectly for most people’s schedules. With that being said, you could easily make this a 30-minute workout if needed OR you could make it longer than an hour by adding a 5-10 minute ‘burn out', game, or a special challenge at the end. It's all up to you!

There you have it! It truly is that simple! Learn the core patterns of movement, and learn the agonists and synergists for the core patterns so you can QUICKLY discern which patterns to program to target your client's specific goals. Add some exercises to your accessory library by asking your clients which exercises they enjoy the most, or find out if they are working through any nagging injuries and address those by using our partners The Prehab Guys App.

One of the BEST ways to truly master the CCA and programming is to get certified through Show Up Fitness! Our SUF CPT certification is not just a piece of paper, it is an experience.

It's the live weekly classes. It's the fact that you can ask a master instructor questions. It's the community that you will be a part of. It's the fact that you will NEVER be left to figure it out on your own. You will always have access to master instructors, professors, and leaders in the fitness industry. We got your back!

The future of the fitness industry THANKS YOU for SHOWING UP!!!

How to Become

A Personal


If you're looking for the best fitness certification, Show Up Fitness CPT is the best! With daily live calls that are recorded for on-demand, SUF-CPT can get you hired anywhere, help with resume, interviews and build your book of business. All you gotta do is SHOW UP! Email to sit in a FREE class on programming, anatomy, nutrition or social media growth.

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