Each session of an exercise program needs to be structured in order to ensure firstly safety of the client and then optimal overload and adaptation.


To ensure saftey, the fitness professional must consider the following in each exercise session:

  1. Warmup: A warm-up always takes place prior to the main set of an exercise session and prepares the client for the main set. The warm-up must be specific and progressive. The warmup exercises must be similar to the exercises in the main exercise set, preparing the muscles and systems being trained in the main set in order to reduce the risk of injury. The warmup exercises must be progressive, beginning with slower movements and gradually increasing in speed and intensity.
  2. Cooldown: A cooldown takes place after the main exercise set and aids in improving the clients recovery in between sessions. A cooldown must also be specific and progressive, but reducing in speed and intensity. Common exercises utilised as a part of a cooldown include low intensity cardiovascular exercises as well as static stretching.
  3. Session Workload: Workload is the combination of intenisty and duration in an exercise session. A session with a higher workload requires a longer warmup and cooldown to reduce risk of injury and recovery time. Workload needs to be managed carefully session-by-session, ensuring that intensity and duration is high enough to create adaptation and not too high to risk injury or overtraining.

Optimal Overload

In order to attain optimal overload during an exercise session the goal of the fitness professional is to challenge the client enough to cause an adapatation response, but not too much to overtrain the client.

To achieve this all the pieces of the FITT principle puzzle need to come together:

  1. Frequency: As mentioned in the previous lesson, is their an optimal balance between training often enough to cause adpatation and training too often to cause overtraining. Training an aspect of conditioning twice weekly will maintain that level of fitness. Training three times or more weekly will improve that level of fitness.
  2. Intensity and duration: Intensity must always balance with Duration (Time). Therefore if an exercise is set at a high intensity, its duration must decrease. If an exercise is set at a long duration, its intensity, must decrease.
  3. Type: The type of exercise selection is important to ensure that there is variety in an exercise program to avoid monotony. Also to be considered is that if the type of exercise changes too frequently adapatation time will be increased
  4. Rest: Always allow for the appropriate amount of rest/recovery between exercises to ensure that the client is able to maintain the correct intensity throughout the session and complete the exercise session as planned.

Tips when Structuring a Session

  • Always refer back to the goals of the session to ensure a successful session
  • Keep Warm-ups between 5 and 15 minutes
  • Keep Cooldowns between 10 and 20 minutes
  • If time constraints do not permit the inclusion of both a warm-up and a cooldown, prioritise the warm-up
  • A good cardiovascular session must run for a minimum of 20 minutes at an appropriate intensity to ensure adapatation
  • If an exercise session runs for a period of 20 minutes or longer it will achieve cardiovascular adapatation to an extent, regardless of the type of exercise.
  • In order for a resistance training session to be effective, between 8 to 12 exercises must be included in the session