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  • Writer's pictureKevin Mullins

Life and Programs: Concepts before Content

Far too often in life we put the proverbial cart before the horse, especially when it comes to our ability to create and manifest something.

Take cooking for example:

How many times have you had an amazing meal at a restaraunt and thought, "well shit, I like this food and I want to make it. I can see what is in, got it."

So, at the first chance you get you scurry to the grocery store and eagerly drop the ingredients in the basket like they were gold bars from Fort Knox. A gleeful scoot of the cart across the laminate floor puts your feet in the air as you glide towards the checkout line. The cashier, all of 22 and eager to go home and watch Stranger Things, looks at you and says, "cooking something fancy, eh?"

With a shit-eating grin on your face you say, "yeah, I'm going to make XXXXXXX".

You finish your sale and race home to start preparing your meal. You claw through the cabinets to find your cutting board, and rifle through that drawer full of random kitchen tools and finally find that garlic press, all while thinking "what the hell does this hammer and cheese grater really do?"

You begin cooking the meal, suddenly finding things to be a lot harder than you first thought. Your memory of the recipe isn't explaining when you put ingredients in, only what goes in the dish. Before long, the tomatoes have cooked down to a shrivel and your sauce is so watery you may just make soup. Oh, and you definitely didn't peel the garlic before trying to press are out 8 bucks.

Eventually, in between tears and curse words, you throw the dish in the garbage and order pizza from the place down the road that thrives off emotional purchases like yours. You tried, and you failed...

But, what happened?

In this example you focused on the content before you understand the concepts driving it. See, amazing recipes are usually founded upon the concepts that drive culinary sciences. There is a reason that the best chefs in the world attend incredible schools that teach them techniques, unique characteristics of food, and the subtle nature of the human palate.

It's so much more than just throwing a bunch of shit in a pan and seeing what happens, although I found a lot of success with this method back in college. It's about understanding the science and art that drive the finished product.

Had you truly wanted to succeed with that recipe you would have spent some time researching the methods of preparation, the timing behind certain ingredients, and how to avoid over-cooking or under-cooking something while finishing the other elements of a dish.

That's about the extent of my culinary knowledge, so the analogy ends there, but I think you get the picture I'm trying to paint.

So, why is it in our exercise programs we often start with the exercises in mind before understanding why and how they end up in a program in the first place?

Why do we think its OK to start jotting down exercises in a successive list without considering the goals and foundations that should guide the program?

It's because we so caught up in the content and forget to observe the concepts. Our goal as personal trainers is to help our clients get to their goals and so we start throwing down all the exercises we know are going to get them there.

"Back squats, hell yeah. You need deadlifts and pulldowns. Definitely need to do some abs and arms." Before long you'll do four sets of this, and three sets of that.

To the paying client - it may just be a tough workout. It may just be "a meal".

Yet, did you get the client any closer to their actual goals?

Chances are you contributed to the sweat equity. Sure, they worked out. That means they lifted weights, moved a lot, burned through some calories, and developed a mild dislike for you and your voice. But...did you actually make them better?

Sadly, most of the time the answer comes up know. By prioritizing the obvious aesthetics (weight loss or muscle gain) you left out the important factors such as: movement quality, movement variation, periodization, and of course...the psychology.

Designing an exercise program, like a chef preparing a meal, or an architect designing a home, requires a respect for the foundations of science, an eye for craftsmanship, and an understanding of the uniqueness of a client.

You must understand concepts like:

1. The differences between hypertrophy, strength, and endurance loading

2. How to structure volume, density, and recovery to maximize results while avoiding injury and burnout

3. How to sort your exercises in order of importance and discard silly ones

4. How to properly assess your client in all manners of importance to guide your vision

5. How to decipher between injuries and weaknesses

6. The importance of programming movements instead of muscle groups.

None of these things come easy. Even degrees from Universities fail to provide you all of this. It takes experience, a constant desire to learn, and a willingness to uproot your biases and embrace new perspectives.

I've been honored to have been a Master Instructor for a few years for a reputable company, and in doing so I've help oversee the careers of many new coaches in the industry. Beyond teaching them curriculum handed to me from above, I've ran program design lectures that emphasize the very same concepts I listed above.

I took those concepts and threw them in a book, made it pretty, and made it available for your consumption!


IN ELITE PROGRAM DESIGN CONCEPTS I cover everything you'll need to know about designing a successful exercise program. You'll find information on:

1. Assessment Strategies and Goals

2. How to Warm Up a client perfectly

3. How to Periodize (or increase/decrease intensity)

4. Why Movements overrule Muscles

5. How to pick your exercises

6. How to sort through the B.S. the industry throws your way

7. How to Design funnels to sort clients and ease your programming burden


Every chapter has you, the coach, in mind. It takes my thousands of hours of personal training sessions (12,941 to be exact) and throws in my group exercise experience (2,200 classes). Then we mix together what I've learned from certifications, other coaches, my experience as a Master Instructor, and some downright opinion on my behalf.

That's the book in a nutshell. A shitload of my experience in text form. I want you to be great, and so I want you to read the book. Go there and snag it for just 14.95...the cost of a moderately good lunch from your favorite shop down the road. For this small investment I promise you that you'll reap thousands of dollars in profits as you stand out from your peers in every way that matters. Most importantly, you'll be a better coach who delivers better results.


Keep Reading with Kevin's book - Day by Day: The Personal Trainer's Blueprint

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What they Say...

"365 Golden Nuggets of Wisdom" - Jonathan Goodman

"Little attention is paid usually to the "how to" of building a successful career. Thanks to Kevin, this void is now being filled."  - Simon Warwick

THIS book should be required reading for anyone hoping to make a career out of personal training. - Steven Head

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