The Individual Training Session


The individual training session is the cornerstone of the entire training plan. The individual training session is where the long-term plan is actually implemented.

  • A long-term plan is a succession of linked individual training sessions in pursuit of specific objectives.
  • The training session should occupy the greatest emphasis in planning and execution.
  • Each session must be carefully evaluated and the following sessions adjusted accordingly.
  • Contingency Planning is a very important, and a necessary part of the planning process. It is especially important to have contingency plans ready for individual training sessions.

Planning the Session
Each training session should a have general theme.

This general theme in turn should be supported by objectives for each component in that training session, that are very specific and measurable.

When planning an individual training session, ask yourself what do I most need to accomplish?

How does that session fit into the bigger picture?

Carefully consider the time available for training and recovery.

Every component in the workout must be in pursuit of the specific objectives of the workout and follow the general theme for that particular session.

The workout is not an end in itself, it is however a means to an end, therefore it must be put in the context of the whole training plan, so it is important to not let the individual training session get blown out of proportion.

The key is to design the sessions so that there is a seamless flow from one workout into another, so that even though the focus is on that individual workout it always must be placed in the context of the workout leading into and out of it.

The actual design of the session should carefully consider:

  • Progression /Sequence
  • Training time available & time allocation
  • Integration with skill workouts
  • Size of the facility or training area relative to the number of athletes training
  • Equipment available
  • Coaching personnel available as well as the number of athletes that will participate in the actual training session
  • Remedial Component
    Make sure that there is always an injury prevention component in each workout. This is most easily addressed in the warm-up. Consideration needs to be given on how to incorporate recovery given the constraints of most situations. Self-massage, shaking and stretching as well as intra workout nutrition in the form of hydration is the most basic and practical form of recovery intra workout recovery.
  • Team or Group Training
    When training a group, carefully plan to meet individual needs in a group context. Everyone will not progress and learn at the same rate.

Multiple Workouts
Multiple workouts in a day is a viable option that allows the workouts to be even more focused and shorter in duration. Multiple sessions are a necessity for the elite athlete.

Training Effects
The physiological, biomechanical, or psychological changes that occur when training is:

  • Immediate
  • Residual
  • Cumulative (Delayed Training Effect)

Remember no one workout can make an athlete, but one workout can break an athlete, therefore the focus should be on the cumulative training effect. Therefore it is imperative to carefully plan the sequence of training sessions from day to day and within the day, as well as project the potential effect of training on subsequent days. With this in mind always be aware of the residual training effect. The ultimate goal is the cumulative training effect, which is what occurs in the long term. Where does the workout fit within the Microcycle plan? The workout is only one component of the big picture.

Complimentary Training Units
To achieve positive training adaptations look carefully at complementary components both intra and inter workouts. Complementary training units are components that work together to enhance each other. The traditional approach has been to consider this intra workout, but it also important to consider inter-workout, both between sessions in a day and between days. Examples of complimentary training units:

  • Speed & Strength
  • Strength & Elastic Strength
  • Endurance & Strength Endurance
  • Skill, Speed & Elastic Strength

Ultimately the units have more than a complementary relationship they should enhance each other and mesh with the ultimate effect being SYNERGISTIC! The simplest means to address the complementary nature of training is to utilize the modular training approach.

Training Modules
The basis of planning the individual training session is the modular training concept that will make planning and implementation of workouts very easy as well as address the need for complementary training components both intra and inter workout.

The training module consists of specific combinations and sequences of exercises that are designed to be very specific and compatible. The exercises are carefully selected to sequence and flow from one exercise to the next within the module. Each module is designed to focus on one particular component that should fit with the other modules in that training session. The volume and intensity for the exercises within each module is determined for each session based on analysis of the previous session. A training session is a collection of modules.

Discuss entry

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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