How Do You Work Out Session Timings

The question of how to Work Out Session Timings comes up a lot from FITPROs… and below I’ll answer it. Adding tons of guidance for you to become confident session planners, by following 5 clear steps

It’s quite easy to get carried away when planning. 

Adding in the client’s favourite exercises and designing a funky plan both you and the client enjoy. Before you know it though, the session is jam-packed and you’re left questioning how long it’ll take.

Or worse… as you deliver the session, it’s evident you’ll either have to cut bits out or it’ll go well over time.

So let’s make session timing and planning straight forwards and easy.

Before you go ahead and even think about exercises there’s a couple of important steps I want you to take.

1️⃣ You must know the total time of the session you want to plan.

Let’s say your client has a 50-minute session. 

We also want to know how many seconds are in the 50 minutes. So a quick calculator task of 50 x 60 = 3000 seconds. 
This will come in handy very shortly

2️⃣ The Sandwich effect 🍞.

I’m sure you’d agree that a cheese and pickle sandwich would be pretty lame without the bread 🤣. 
In fact, it wouldn’t even be a sandwich. The cheese, the main filling would be rubbish on its own (unless you’re a cheese lover that is 🧀).

You might be thinking I’ve gone mad… but stay with me.

So many FITPROs focus on the main session and somewhat ignore the warm-ups and cool-downs. 
I want you to consider the warm-up and cool-down as the bread 🍞 to your sandwich and session.
Without these two components, the session flops. 

Your goal is to plan and deliver a safe, efficient, and effective warm-up, main session, and cool down.

3️⃣ Session component timings.

You could allocate 10-minutes to the warm-up. 

Here you can intro the session, include some mobility and activation exercises. Followed by a 5-minute pulse raiser and dynamic stretching for example.

Next, I want you to allocate time to your cool-down. 
Let’s again say 10-minutes. 

Here you can lower the client’s heart rate, deliver any post-workout stretching. Ending the session with tips, advice and organising their next step.

Now you have timings to your session sandwich so to speak.

10-mins = warm up, 10-mins = cool-down, 
leaving 30-minutes for the main section.
All told here is your 50-minute session broken down.

4️⃣ Main session timings 

Earlier we worked out the total session was 50-minutes or 3000 seconds.
We can now say the main session is 30-minutes or 1800 seconds (30 x 60 seconds = 1800 seconds).

Next, we must know the client’s rep range they are currently working in and the tempo of each repetition.

For example… they may be working on 15 repetitions and a 2:2 tempo. 2 seconds concentric VS 2 seconds eccentric or 4 seconds per 1 full repetition.

Now we can grab the calculator again and work out how long 1 set of 15 reps will take based on 4 seconds per rep. 
15 reps x 4 seconds = 60 seconds . It will take 60 seconds or 1 minute per set.

Stay with me… I know maths isn’t most peeps strong point. 

Remember you can return back to this post as many times as you need to and follow the steps

Next, we need to accommodate the rest time associated with each set. 

Remain mindful, rest times vary significantly based on the number of repetitions completed. 

For example, 15 reps has 30 seconds rest before the next set. 
Whereas 12 reps has more rest of 60-seconds associated to it. 

For the above case study, our client is working at 15 reps so they get a 30-seconds rest on top of their 60 seconds set. 
Giving you a total of 90 seconds per working set and rest time.

The question now is… how many 90 seconds are in the 30-minutes or 1800 second main session. 
1800 seconds / 90 seconds per set and rest = 20 total working sets.

Meaning we can afford to have 20 working sets inside our 30-minute session.

5️⃣ The finishing touches on planning.

The 20 sets we have available now give you confidence the session timings all work. 
More so, giving you confidence the session will not overrun.

You could even give yourself some contingency and reduce this to 18 working sets and rest. 
Now you have clawed back 3-minutes for any introductions or waiting for a machine in the gym etc.

How you assign exercises now is straight forwards.
You have 18 to 20 working sets. 
You could do a whole-body approach, or simply focus on a lower or upper body… this comes down to your client’s goal and phase of training they are in.

You could do 3 sets of 15 reps on legs, back, chest, shoulders, arms, and core; bring you to 18 sets in total.
You could perform all 3 sets of each back to back and then move on. 

Or you could perform more of a circuit approach and do 1 set of each and repeat this three times.
I suppose the only thing we haven’t discussed is adding in training systems. The above simply looks at basic sets and multiple sets.

We’ll write another post and explore session timings for say supersets and pyramids. The more intermediate and advanced training systems.

Drop a comment below if this has been useful. I’d really love to know.

Looking for More Confidence and a Strategy to Follow in Planning?

FITPRO-31 is a short online coaching program that helps you with all things planning.

You get structured tutorials delivered by me and then every Thursday we have a live brain pick Q&A session.

What’s more… it’s a just a one-time small fee and you get lifetime access to everything, including the brain picks and coaching.

If you are interested and want more info. Message Me HERE with the subject line “more info” and I’ll ping it all across.

FITPRO-31 is also perfect if you are training to become a FITPRO and have coursework to complete. It guides your every step to a pass.

Dedicated to More

Hayley “How Do You Work Out Session Timings” Bergman

Parallel Coaching

P.S. You can also find us on the following platforms:
More Planning Blogs: