How to Design A Program for Athletes: Part 3

In the last article we went over developing the stages of an athletes yearly training schedule. In this article we will discuss how to make an exercise bank and the physiological factors that you should be the focusing on during each stage.

One thing Joe Kenn and Mark Watts taught me that as a coach you need to develop an exercise bank. These are exercises that you are proficient in coaching and performing. I am a big proponent of walking the walk. I’m not saying that you need to squat 600lbs but you should know what it’s like to squat heavy weight, especially if you are teaching athletes how to squat. You wouldn’t take your car to somebody who watched a youtube video on how to replace an alternator, same goes for lifting.

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So if your not proficient in teaching or performing olympic movements then don’t do them. That simple. So the exercises in your exercise bank should be ones you are confident in coaching and know that you can coach anybody on how to perform them. Another thing, make sure you have the right equipment to perform the lifts. There are various ways to organize it but separating it into total body, lower body and upper body lifts will be the easiest and most beneficial.

I like to keep things extremely simple. This is the exercise pool that I use. These are the exercises I prefer as a coach and the ones that I actually enjoy coaching and performing. Knowing your progressions and regressions is extremely important. I like big movements, they give me the biggest bang for my buck. I do most of my olympic movements from the hang or from blocks and typically don't catch. Only time I will catch is if our athletes need them for their college programs. 

Now that we have developed our exercise bank, lets take a look at each stage a little more in depth. By determining the goals of each stage, programming just became that much easier.

Post Season

Duration: 2-8 weeks

Goal: Rehab, rest, relax, regenerate. Get ready for the off-season. General conditioning is all that is needed. Nothing hard or strenuous.


Duration: 10-30 weeks

Goal: Increase strength, power, increase GPP, enhance mobility and flexibility, agility and speed work.

Early stages: increase GPP and improve techcal and basic skills. General strength training exercises will be the basis of the off-season. As the offseason progresses the athlete is getting ready to begin their competitive stages (Pre-season and in season). So your programming needs to be more specific to the needs of your athletes sport.

Latter stages: Tailored towards the athletes sport. So understanding energy systems is of the utmost importance so you can program accordingly. Anaerobic intervals that work their sport paired with aerobic capacity training needs to be the focus here while focusing on power.


Duration: 2-4 weeks

Goal: Your athletes will now be competing in scrimmages and practices. So your training should be more of a circuit fashion. The reason is because of how intense the practices/scrimmages will be. Pick 4-8 exercises and use movements that will help the athletes recover. These are short workouts, with low volume and intensity.

Conditioning is handled by the sport coach not the strength coach.


Duration: 12-20 weeks

Goal: Two to three training sessions per week. We need to not only maintain strength but the goal should be to also increase strength. As in the pre-season conditioning is handled by the sport coach not the strength coach.

So lets look at the post season using our training units from the previous article


In the next article we will look at various strategies and training units used in programing. If you have any questions or comments leave them below.




Kurz.T. Science of Sports Training – 2nd Edition. 2002

Kenn. The Coach’s Strength Training Playbook. 2003