It’s been a while since I did a product review, predominantly because I didn’t have anything to review. Well now I do (actually two products, the other will be another article) the first of which is All About Program Design by Tim Henriques. Tim is the Director of the Virginia branch of the NPTI , The National Personal Training Institute, an online certification program. Tim is also the author of the book All About Powerlifting, a thorough and utterly comprehensive book on the topic that I have reviewed previously. When I say comprehensive I mean it, there are something like 40 pages describing the strict curl, a lift that isn’t common but is contested from time to time. FORTY PAGES. Anyhow.
As part of his work with the NPTI Tim has written and released All About Program Design which, as the title suggests is aimed at just that. Let me make it clear from the get-go that this is focused on more general training as might be seen by the general public or what the typical personal trainer might be utilizing. It is not sports or powerlifting specific.
The book itself is 152 pages and takes a good look at the different components of fitness (strength, endurance, body composition, endurance, flexibility) along with subcomponents (power, explosiveness, speed, agility, quickness). We might quibble gently over terminology here but that’s nitpicky even for me which is saying a lot. Next the book provides an overview chart of how the different components/subcomponents of fitness would be loaded in terms of number of exercises, reps, sets, loads and rest interval. In one way this seems out of place in that it comes before the discussion of the other components but in another it provides a fantastic overview of each one. Having read the book, you can refer back to this chart and have all the information in one place.
The specific terms such as sets, reps, tempo, etc. being used in the book are also defined in this section and I do want to specifically comment on that. In my experience, there are many training books or manuals that come out that don’t do this. No, I’m not naming names but it’s not uncommon to see people comment that the book was good except for the fact that there was terminology being used that was never explained.
It’s all well and good to assume a certain level of background knowledge from your readership but, hey, you know what happens when you assume, right? In my experience and opinion, it’s always better to address the beginner level stuff than not. Fine, more advanced people don’t need it (though you’d be amazed how many ‘advanced’ are wrong about some things) but that’s what page forward controls are for. I’d rather make sure everyone is on the same page than not even if it makes the book longer. And it’s nice to see Tim address the terminology of training in some detail.
The next chapter provides a basic sample workout routine, something that is equally important, since, realistically most personal trainers are likely to be working with beginners. Knowing how to break in beginners without breaking them (as I like to put it) is crucial and this is a great template for trainers (who are often so far beyond beginner stage that they forget what it was like) to have.
The bulk of the book then examines each component and subcomponent of fitness in some detail and I won’t go through it chapter by chapter for this reason. Each chapter actually provides two different charts for the training style that would apply to it. The first is just the specific section addressing loading parameters in terms of exercises per session, reps, sets, etc. while the second is a more global look at the type of routine (split vs. full body), training frequency, etc. that would be idea. All of the terms and details are explained in the text below those charts. Some tricks of the trade, techniques that might be useful are also listed for each goal. Finally, exercise suggestions and sample workouts are provided. There is also a brief section on training older adults.
The book ends with a chapter called Plug and Play which shows how to put all of the information in to actual program design before providing a thorough glossary and what is perhaps one of the best parts of the book: links to an absolutely enormous number of Youtube exercise technique videos. I do mean enormous and there are 200 exercises listed including both a detailed full demo video (5-8 minutes long) along with a quick technique video (15-30 seconds long). That alone more than justifies the cost of the book.
Overall this is an extremely good book and I can only come up with one major criticism which is a formatting issue that runs throughout the PDF. That issue is that many if not most of the tables/charts tend to run across page breaks. So you might see 80% of the chart on one page, a bunch of space at the page break then the rest of it on the next page. This doesn’t occur in the Kindle version since Kindle doesn’t have page breaks and I suspect this is the genesis of it. Having to format the PDF and Kindle separately is a PAIN IN THE ASS. By no means is this a deal breaker or a reason to not get the book (or just get the Kindle edition) but I have to be picky about something.
For a new personal trainer (or even a experienced one) or the general trainee, this is a very good book. It’s concise but covers all of the topics in detail that that population would need. The exercise demonstration libraries alone make the book worth it. The book is only available in digital formats due to the need to link out to the exercise videos.