PT on the Net Research

Programming Basics - Part 1

It is a great time to be in the industry. There is a mountain of information out there. Those who have been relentless in their quest for truth and reality have undoubtedly run across an increasing volume of conflicting evidence. For health and fitness professionals, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through it all. Amidst this flurry to conjure up the “next best contraption” or “cure-all pill,” it appears we may have lost sight of the most important principles of all: the programming basics. If we don’t know where it all starts, performing a “single leg squat with a PNF shoulder pattern while standing on a stability ball" may seem a little pointless, despite how “cool” it looks.

This intent of this article is to outline the basics of programming (i.e. the warm up, cool down, flexibility concepts, strength training principles and cardiovascular training principles). It is important to have a keen grasp on these concepts as they are the foundation for all current integrated training principles.

The Warm Up and Cool Down

Unless instructed and/or educated on the importance of taking the time to warm up, it is often times the most neglected and/or improperly performed portion of the average individual’s workout. The benefits and purpose(s) of an effective warm up are many. They begin with a gradual increase in heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen consumption to performance- and/or activity-specific levels. This is combined with dilation of the blood vessels and increased heat produced by the working muscles, which helps to increase their elasticity. Essentially, the nervous system is being “prepared for load,” whether that load be aerobic, anaerobic or both. (Remember, aerobics/cardio is resistance training also! The resistance is your body’s relationship with gravity!)

The cool down is notoriously neglected as well. What must be understood is that everything that was accelerated during the work out must now be decelerated (i.e., heart rate, respiration and overall metabolism). This ensures there will be adequate circulation to the muscles, heart and brain by preventing any sudden blood pooling, reducing the likelihood of dizziness, fainting and the development of post onset soreness (POS).

The warm up and cool down should both consist of two distinct components:

Extensive research has shown the direct correlation between properly/consistently performed warm ups and cool downs and an improvement in overall performance, strength and fitness goals as well as a significant reduction in the risk of injury.

Flexibility Training

Proper flexibility training takes as much focus and intensity as the rest of the work out in order to be effective. Depending upon the given client scenario, the flexibility portion of the work out should be a combination of “unpleasant” yet “painless” movements as functional flexibility is a huge key to success and takes focus and discipline to attain.

The following four flexibility concepts are the keys to understanding the rationales for the different types of flexibility/stretching:

The purpose and benefits of flexibility training are primarily to:

Types of Stretching





The Essential Stretches

From an evolutionary standpoint, the body was never meant to be in the seated position for any extended length of time. Due to the highly automated, seated and computer-based society we live in, our posture has suffered tremendously. When seated for hours on end over the course of time, there is a fairly predictable series of muscles that become restricted. It is for this reason that it may be very helpful to include the following list of “essential” stretches into the protocols of clients that lead a highly seated existence so as to attempt to re-establish musculoskeletal balance prior to the application of load(s). Any and all of these can be modified to static, active, contract-relax and dynamic modes...

Calves #1 Calves #2


Hip Flexors & Quads Chest & Shoulder

Hip Flexors & Quads:

Chest & Shoulder:

Hamstring Start Hamstring End


Lats Start Lats End


For detailed descriptions and a wide variety of other stretches, please visit the PTN Exercise Library.

In Part 2 of “Programming Basics,” the fundamental concepts of cardiovascular and resistance training will be outlined in full.


  1. Baechle, TR; Earle, RW. (2000). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. 2nd ed. (NSCA).
  2. Chek, P. (2004). How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy! (C.H.E.K Institute).
  3. Chek, P. Optimal Health and Fitness Through Practical Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaching. NLC-Level II certification course manual, A C.H.E.K Institute Publication and Production, 2003.
  4. Chek, P. Scientific Core Conditioning. (C.H.E.K Institute).
  5. Clark, M; Russell A. (2001). Optimum Performance Training for the Performance Enhancement Specialist. (NASM).
  6. Cotton, RL. (1997). Personal Trainer Manual. (ACE).
  7. Schuler, L; Volek, J. Ph.D. (2002). The Testosterone Advantage Plan.
  8. Slavin M. DC. The Science and Physiology of Movement, course manual, 2000.