5 Exercises Every Personal Trainer Should Program.

Programming can be tricky when you don’t have a process a method and a template to you use. You're almost flying blind and hoping for the best.

You can get access to my FREE training on PROGRAMMING here.

When it comes to the most bang for your buck exercises in terms of muscles recruited you can't beat multi-joint compound lifts.

These 5 Exercises (or their variations) should form the base of any good program.


Almost every human action involves a hinge pattern,

Teaching your clients to do this correctly from the start will save you a lot of time later on when they are ready to progress to the big lifts as well as prep them for any other exercise that involves a hinge. So spend the time initially perfecting this movement pattern.

Many variations include: RDL, back extension, deadlift, single leg deadlift, GHD, good morning.


There are many variations of this exercise.

Body weight, dumbbell, goblet, medball, barbell, safety bar, low bar, high bar, front squat.

Knowing what level your client is at will dictate what variation you use.

Note there are unilateral variations to the squat to...

Split squat, Bulgarian split squat, step up and lunge.


Often neglected by female trainers as it's seen that women don’t need to train chest. That’s not the case.

Most shoulder dysfunction stems from weak Lats/pecs. And most women are much stronger in their pull than they are their push.

Your ratio of push/pull work will be determined by your assessment. But I would bet your push is weaker so you would opt for a 2:1 push to pull to bring up the imbalance in strength.

Variations of the press include...

Horizontal push: Dumbbell bench press, barbell bench press, incline bench press, decline bench press, single arm bench press, push ups.

Vertical push: Dumbbell shoulder press, barbell shoulder press, single arm press, seated press, arnie press, wide grip and neutral grip.


Its common for many clients to be trap dominant and weak latissimus dorsi or teres major. Make sure your programming many types of pull variations and ensuring the right muscles are recruited.

Vertical pull: Lat pulldown (pronated, supinated, neutral), chin ups, pull ups, single arm cable row, single arm lat pulldown.

Horizontal pull: Pendlay row, prone row, bent over row, seal row, single arm dumbell row.

Hip Thrust

One exercise that EVERY trainer should know. It’s an easy exercise to coach and is safe for most beginners because there is no axial loading. It also makes it a great choice for those that can’t squat and deadlift due to injuries.

It can also make your clients feel like a bad ass as the weight can increase quite quickly and get quite heavy on this exercise.

Posterior chain weakness is very common. or quad dominant and lack glute activation. Bigger, stronger glutes are not just for the instagram fitspos, it can carry over to your lifts like squats and deadlifts and assist in power and performance for athletes.

Variations include barbel hip thrust, dumbbell hip thrust, single leg, smith machine, glute bridge variations (back on the floor) - single leg, feet elevated, bands.

With all these exercises you should be confident that you can perform them correctly first, before coaching your clients.

Make sure you understand the movement, the muscles recruited and how you can easily instruct someone to perform them.

Think about the progressions and regressions of each big lift and know what you can turn to quickly if a client needs adjustments.

Coach Ella

Email: ella@ellamartyn.com

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