Designing effective programmes to suit individuals

Categories:   Nutrition

Designing effective programmes to suit individuals

We all know that our health and fitness benefit from effective exercise programmes, but how personalised should they be?

In the widest sense, the answer is that if you want to see results you need to maintain your programme and therefore it makes sense for me to take your lifestyle and responsibilities into account when designing your fitness routine.

I need to keep that in mind when helping you to plan your exercise but there are other factors that are important, such as age, gender and any specific health issues.

The factors I need to consider when designing your programme

Firstly, let’s be clear, any age group can benefit from a properly-designed health and fitness programme and it could be argued that it is especially important for older people, as it can be used to prevent or improve some of the age-related conditions that can be so limiting.

I also take into account gender because there are some gender-specific issues to which men and women become more vulnerable as they age.

Muscle mass increases the metabolic rate in both women and men therefore, burning more calories whilst at rest.

For men as we age our testosterone levels drop which in turn leads to muscle mass reduction of around 3-5% each decade. This is called sarcopenia and fat mass elevates. Therefore I design a program to allow men to build the muscle back up and maintain it, reducing fat gain and keeping them stronger allowing them to enjoying daily life.

For women strength training is awesome due to its ability to prevent osteoporosis. Bone loss usually speeds up as we age for both men and women during midlife but for women bone loss speeds up noticeably after the menopause when oestrogen levels drop sharply.

This leads to such problems as hip fractures when falls occur so strength training can help with strengthening the bones and preventing breaks.

Designing a strength and stability program especially targeting the hips and core can help with prevention of falls. Therefore, strength training can offset the onset of this condition.

For older people, as I have proven with a 79-year-old, strength training is vital for balance, bone health and just being strong enough to carry out daily activities. This gentleman came to me with a walking stick and could get up off the floor in 5 minutes. 8 weeks later no walking stick and gets up off the floor in 10s: pretty impressive!

Another increasingly common problem is Type 2 diabetes and there is mounting evidence that a combination of strength training and a clean diet can actually assist with reversing this disease.  I have three clients who have proven this.

For younger people I use free weights and tend to do a 4-day split lower/upper body twice a week while for the older generation I tend to use machines with a 3-day full body split


Protein synthesis (repair of muscle protein) usually takes around 48 hours so I don’t like to hit the same muscle group within this time frame hence the splits as suggested above.

Age and Lifestyle can influence a programme’s design

To some extent, a person’s age indicates how much exercise they need to take each week, according to the NHS guidance but for many of us our work and family commitments limit how much additional activity we can fit into a week.

If you are an office worker, for example, the advice is to try to build in at least some exercise into your working day by cycling or walking part of your commute, standing up when on the telephone, taking stairs instead of lifts and taking a walk during the lunch break.

Similarly, older people can build more exercise into their daily lives by being active around the house, gardening, or joining clubs for such things as rambling or conservation.

If people want to achieve results, therefore, it is important that I understand the limitations on their time in designing programmes that they can stick to. Simplicity with all clients is key in any program therefore I also establish their likes/dislikes within a training program.

I also pay attention to their nutrition and again, simplicity is key. I don’t recommend fad diets and again simplicity and non-restrictive is the answer.

As long as people are staying within a caloric deficit for fat loss and keeping their protein levels up for muscle repair they will not go wrong. For muscle mass, i.e. gaining weight, they need to be on a caloric surplus.

Dropping the calories too low can be detrimental to any goals and is not sustainable.  As much as people want to lose weight what they actually want is to lose body fat and this is a slow process, hence the importance of designing individual programmes that people will be able to stick to.

Build muscle, increase the metabolic rate, burn calories while at rest and body fat reduces.

If you wish to come on board and start learning and training with my Academy then drop me a line below and I will arrange a complimentary consultation to discuss your goals.