How To Plan A Fitness Session: The Sandwich Analogy

Today’s blog will explore how to plan a fitness session without feeling overwhelmed. This is for you if you are a trainee or newly qualified FITPRO, and NEW to planning client fitness sessions.

I’m going to share two analogies with you that will simplify your planning. One is related to Sandwiches and the other to the Solar System.

Watch the 14-minute video to reveal how to plan a fitness session. Then test your knowledge with three mock questions.

How To Plan A Fitness Session

How To Plan A Fitness Session

The Sandwich Analogy

A sandwich is great. It successfully fills you up when you are hungry.

A sandwich is structured and simple

It has a generic format of two bits of bread with a filling in the middle

However, it can be made individual with different types of bread and different types of filling

WAs FITPROs we can learn a lot from the humble sandwich as a means to simplify the planning of a fitness session

Bread 1: The Warm Up

In any sandwich, you need to start by laying out the first slice of bread on the counter/ worktop.

In our Planning equivalent …

This is the Warm-Up.

A warm-up has a generic structure that you’d follow with nearly all clients. Just like a sandwich has a generic structure of two slices of bread. However, there is also space for individuality …

The sandwich could use gluten-free bread, seeded bread, sourdough bread, white bread, thick slice, thin slice…

The individuality in your warm up includes:

  • Does your client need a longer pulse raise for their asthma?
  • Or maybe they have tight hip flexors and you add an extra hip flexor stretch?
  • Maybe they need an extra mobility exercise to ease their sore back or arthritis?

These individualities come after you have the initial generic structure.

Now let’s swap to the next analogy …

the solar system

MARS is a warm planet, so we will use this as an acronym to add structure to a generic warm-up

M = Mobility exercises
a series of fluid movements that gradually increase synovial fluid lubrication on major joints

A = Activation exercises
a chance to activate the muscles, posture, and core before increasing intensity

R = Raise Pulse
a gradual increase to RPE4 (out of 10) using cardiovascular exercise. Usually about 5 mins long

S = Stretch
either dynamic or static maintenance stretches to prepare for the session ahead

Bread 2: The Cool Down

Every session requires a cooldown… just like every sandwich requires two bits of bread.

We used the MARS acronym to give the warm-up a generic strucutre.

So for the Cool-Down, we will use the PLUTO acronym

It is a Cool planet, and we want to Cool down our clients.

P = Pulse Lower
a reverse of the RPE escalation experienced in the warm-up, we gradually bring the pulse back to RPE 2 (out of 10)

L = Lengthen
here we include the developmental stretches that will improve the client’s flexibility at specific joints

U = Understand
here is your chance to get feedback and evaluate what your client enjoyed about the session

T = Tips and Advice
offer your client
a maximum of three tips or advice so they can get more out of their session next time

O = Organise and Overdeliver
here you can take a moment to check your client is booked in the diary for next time, and link their progress today to their outcome goals.

Now you have the structure to follow when creating a generic warm-up and cool down …

and it is as simple as making a sandwich… now let’s look at the main filling

The FIlling: Main section

A sandwich isn’t complete without the filling. It is the main event.

There are hundreds of fillings you could have in a sandwich, and the choice can be overwhelming.

Much like there are hundreds of exercises you could include in your client fitness sessions, the choice can be overwhelming

The key is to start generic and simple and add individuality afterward.

You can then consider the compartments of fitness and include both Cardiovascular and Resistance training in your main session. Flexibility is already accounted for in the warm-up and cool down, so you want to make sure the other components are included here.

This is like including Ham and Cheese in the same sandwich.

The ham is the resistance training and the cheese is the cardiovascular training

Depending on your client’s goals and frequency of training, they may have more cheese or more resistance training in one session. You may even have sessions that are just Resistance training – so just a ham sandwich.

Simplicity avoids overwhelm

It is important to consider the individual needs of the client. You can make small adaptations to your generic plan (like adding mayonnaise or tomato to your sandwich) , but it helps to have a generic template (like ham and cheese) as a great starting platform.

Expand the conversation

If you enjoyed this conversation and exploration of planning… check out our FITPRO Sessions podcast Season 10, Episode 7 where we explore “Planning Imposter Syndrome” and the sandwich analogy in more detail

Download on your favourite podcast apps here: CLICK HERE

Our FIT-Progressions online programme breaks down session structure, each component of fitness and how to periodise your programmes for best client results.

Plus you learn how to piece it all together for your L3 Personal Trainer Case study, and accelerate your client journey so you can be the best FITPRO possible.

>>>> Join us for FIT-Progressions here

Become a knowledgeable and confident FITPRO, with a clear strategy to get results with your clients every time.

There’s no more self-doubt. There’s no more guessing what to plan or how to get client results. FIT-Progressions has 8 modules and 18 video tutorials that guide you through every stage of your Level 3 Personal Trainer case study, and how to work with clients effectively.

This is for you if you’re…

  • struggling to complete your coursework for PT, Yoga, or Pilates
  • a newly qualified FITPRO that feels stuck or overwhelmed
  • unsure where to start when planning a client session
  • worrying about applying your course knowledge with a real client
  • doubting you could get results and lack structure to client packages
  • anxious and confused about how to get found and get busy

Click the link to find out more and join us:

Test your knowledge with today’s planning mock questions:

[NOTE: The answers are below the 3rd questions]

Q1: What is the acronym used to structure a generic warm-up?


Q2: What is the acronym used to structure a generic cool down?


Q3: What factors would influence the content of the main component in a fitness session?
A. Client goals
B. Worries the client is bored
C. The newest gym equipment
D. The FITPROs personal preference

Answers to the mock questions are :

Question 1= B, Question 2 = D, Question 3 = A

If you want more mock questions like this, then you can download more Free Mock Questions: DOWNLOAD NOW

Dedicated to More

Hayley “How To Plan A Fitness Session” Bergman

Parallel Coaching

P.S. You can also find us on the following platforms:
Read more Planning blogs: HERE