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February 12, 2024

241 | Goal-Oriented Programming: Aligning Workouts with Specific Fitness Objectives

This one goes out to fitness, coaches and trainees alike. Coaches, good luck writing a program without knowing what the goal of the program is. And trainees, you should not be fully depending on your coach to come up with the goals of your program. That lowers client efficacy. And around here we want high client efficacy. Ideally, you know why you are training. And more specifically, why you are training in this season.

To be clear, the reason might be simply to maintain consistency in the gym. That’s what today’s episode is all about determining different objectives that we can have in the gym and some program design ideas around those different goals.

For any of these goal oriented programs, it will be important that you are tracking your progress. It’s not that you have to be performing actual assessments, though you can. But if we want to track our progress, we need to be tracking our workouts. But you can be an old school notebook or an actual Training app like TrueCoach which we use with our clients here.

This allows you to track workouts completed, as well as the weights or reps that were completed within the work out. I also highly encourage notes. In the spreadsheet that I provide for a master program template inside Pure PROgramming, as well as our programming inside TrueCoach, there is space to leave notes under every single exercise. No matter what your, or your client’s goal is, notes provide context on a week to week basis.

I believe this also increases efficacy. And could probably find research to back that idea. But I don’t have any on hand.

So, some goals that can help lead program design…

Maintenance and consistency

  • For busy seasons or seasons where something else needs to be top priority and requires more energy from you.

Muscle growth

  • This goal will take high physical effort and require recovery BUT, not always a high mental load. Which can be great for seasons like my postpartum and pregnancy journey. Hear more about that in my pregnancy 1 vs pregnancy 2 fitness youtube video.
  • Is hypertrophy based – so may not require large compound movements, or can. You have a lot of exercise selection options here.
  • Will require consistency and high effort like I said, so RPE needs to be high, and reps need to be taken to near failure.
    • Could see supersets with same muscle group being worked
    • Rest varying but likely under 90 seconds
    • Focused areas of the body vs full body.

Fitness increase

  • Could come through capacity work – higher volume, lower load, lots of unilateral or full body work
  • Cardio in addition to strength and hypertrophy training.
  • When one wants to take a break from the weights, or just go through the motions.
  • This could REPLACE weight training, be in combination with weight training or be the actual weight training but with a capacity and metabolic focus vs muscle or strength building
    • Lots of supersets and trisets or metcons
    • higher rep work – still challenging but maybe less taxing in other ways (joints, and mental).

Strength gain

  • For a season you have high capacity for mental and physical load
  • High stress to the body daily potentially
    • See a lot of large compound movements that call upon many muscle groups at one time.
    • Likely reps under 6 for most big lifts
    • Single sets over super and try-sets
    • Long rest

Skill oriented

  • Really fun goal to bring some life back into your training and not necessarily focus on STRENGTH or HYPERTROPHY which we often see in health and fitness.
  • Could be in conjunction with a maintenance or fitness based season of training
    • Taking time to hone in on push ups, pull ups, a pistol squat, box jumps etc. Any movement is a skill.


  • You’re likely only programming for rehab if you are in fact a PT. But trainers can absolutely still be programming for rehab if your client has been cleared and is making their back to movements and loads they previously performed.
    • Program will work the weakest links
    • WITH THAT – keep movements you / the client enjoys and FEELS competent and strong in.
    • Marry the rehab specific piece with another goal we went over for other areas of the body.
      • Maybe client can work on bringing up their fitness and feel successful there
      • Maybe they can improve OTHER skills or focus on hypertrophy due to lack of mobility in rehab specific area.

I hope this gave you some useful notes for program design and considerations around the goal oriented programming.

The changes and focuses can be subtle but make a difference with joy, efficacy, and adherence for the client in the long run I think.

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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