How to DEsign a

fitness program


Beginner Program

I've been teaching personal trainers for over twelve years. One of the biggest challenges comes from writing client programs. Where to start? How many sets? What is the best exercise? What's the best split routine? When do I design full body vs. split routines? These questions tend to leave the CPT questioning their skill set and ultimately a new career (90% of textbook trainers quit within 12-months of getting certified.) At Show Up Fitness, our SUF-CPT prepares trainers to understand the basics of anatomy and programming- the key factors for building confidence as a new trainer. Through years of teaching and training clients, SUF developed the best training system called CCA – Core movement pattern, Core movement pattern, accessory.

The CCA is the best training program for general population clients wanting to train for 30-60 minutes. The SUF-CPT begins with a light warm-up addressing the 9-checkpoints of human movement (ankle, knee, hip, lumbar, thoracic, cervical, shoulder, elbow and elbow). After the client is physically and mentally prepared for the workout, begin with the first CCA-1 circuit. At the end of the first circuit, rest until the client is ready to increase the intensity for round 2. Repeat CCA -1 for 2-3 rounds depending on the clients conditioning.

The 8-core movement patterns are:

1- Vertical Push, 2- Vertical Pull, 3- Horizontal Push, 4- Horizontal Pull, 5- Squat, 6- Hinge, 7- Unilateral, 8- Transitional.

The accessory portion can be a single jointed isolation exercise, pre-hab / rehab, their favorite exercise, abs, cardio, mobility drills and sometimes rest (deconditioned clients.)

The majority of our clients at Show Up Fitness (physical locations in West Hollywood, La Jolla San Diego & Santa Monica) clients will be training between 1-3x per week with the trainer which usually resorts to a full body workout. For a client who is trying to lose fat and build their bottom half (glutes & legs), the first CCA would focus on lower body patterns. For example:

1- CORE MOVEMENT – SQUAT = Goblet Squat



Beginners typically stick between 10-15 reps to strengthen connective tissue and optimize neuromuscular communication. After the bicycle kicks, rest until the client is ready to increase the intensity for round two. After the third round, you transition into CCA-2:

CCA-2 would look something similar to CCA-1 circuit, but you'd want to pair up antagonist upper body movements and a different lower body core pattern. For example:

2- CORE MOVEMENT – HINGE = Floor Bridge

a- CORE MOVEMENT – PULL = *Chin-ups

b- ACCESSORY – ARMS = Bicep Curls

Any exercise that is too challenging or the client is unable to perform competently, lower the reps and focus on eccentric control. For example, 2-3 eccentric chin-ups or 3-5 eccentric push-ups. Eccentric exercises are great, but they can cause a lot of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Damage.)

For CCA-3, it would consist of the last lower body pattern along with the remaining upper body muscles that were left out. We have already performed a squat and hinge, so we're left with unilateral (we can incorporate transitional in the next workouts.) For the upper body, we have performed a push and a pull (chest and back) so we would do a vertical push to engage the shoulders – ideally we like to hit each of the 7-main muscles per workout. For example:


a- CORE MOVEMENT – V. PUSH = Landmine Press

b- ACCESSORY – CARDIO = Mountain Climbers

If time permits, we can finish off with metabolic conditioning (MET-CON.) For example RDL's into PLANKS into 30-seconds of jumping jacks. The purpose of the workouts are NOT TO annihilate your clients, it's to teach them proper movement mechanics and get them back in for the MOST IMPORTANT WORKOUT, THE NEXT ONE.



If you want to learn more about how to program as a new and/or aspiring personal trainer, sign up for the WORLD'S BEST PERSONAL TRAINING CERTIFICATION HERE: SHOW UP FITNESS CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER (SUF-CPT). We have daily calls that are live and on-demand with our APP.


6 responses to “How to design a fitness program – SUF-CPT – Beginner Program”

  1. Avatar

    Great content! How would I progress this workout template in the future ?

    1. Set PR’s at the end of the month in 3-5 of the exercises. Go heavier the next month and then add in some new exercises. For Example:
      Start back squatting instead of goblets; but test the goblet 10rm at the end of month 1 & 2 to show the change. Move from push-ups to bench press but set PR’s for AMRAP and also total volume for push-ups in a workout or a week.

  2. Avatar

    I like what I see. Can this workout template be split up throughout the day?

    1. Always! Optimal? Maybe not, but can do CCA 1 first and then after lunch CCA2 then before dinner CCA3

  3. Avatar

    would you switch up their workouts every 4 weeks or so or keep it relatively the same?

    1. I’d switch up the CCA’s and rotate 1 to 2, 2 to 3 and 3 to 1. The Accessories would be something different every workout. Therefore we work and progress with the main core movements and then spruce it up with the accessories.

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