Strong is good for bodies, brains, and coffee.

Strong is good for bodies, brains, and coffee.

Goals and goal setting is a hotness.

I talked about it a little with my New Year, Same You blog post earlier in the year.

SPS Coach Brandon talked about it in his I don’t have any goals blog series.

As the Athletic Director of SPS, I’m often the first point of contact with prospective members. Each new strength and conditioning member goes through a movement evaluation with me as a quick form and comfort check to make sure each person will be safe in a group coaching environment. It also gives me information about a person’s movement balance, mobility, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses that I can use in creation of each member’s personal program.

And, of course, one of the questions I ask is “Do you have any specific goals?”


I don’t actually expect much of an answer from most people. Sure, it’s awesome when I get one. Our members tease me and others “If you tell Kristin what your goals are, be ready because she’s gonna make sure you work towards them.”

But as I learned from my friend Stevo, founder of Habitry, most people come to the gym as “A” and really their only goal is “not-A.”


As coaches and trainers, we need to be able to work with that. If we push and dig, we risk making someone feel guilty or shameful for not having their brain properly organized. It’s vulnerable enough to come to a new community, don’t make it harder.

And for members and prospective members, don’t fret! You clearly have goals, even if you can’t verbalize them yet. You’ve stepped into a gym after all!

But how does someone program for a person without specific goals?

I’m gonna let you in on my programming checklist. This is assuming there are no glaring technical or mobility issues that come up during the movement eval.

  1. STRENGTH - I start most people with 3 days a week. They get a squat, a pull (deadlift, sumo deadlift, trap bar deadlift) and a press (strict press, bench press, push press). Usually in the 8-10 rep range for 4 sets. Most people come to us with either a long break in training or mostly CrossFit training where they need to build up some hypertrophy, re-engage with their technique, and have some general strength endurance work.

  2. UNILATERAL - We all have a strong side and a weak size, and while I can’t train that out of you, I can help you make the difference less obvious. The balance and stabilization needed to execute these movements also have great life transferability.

  3. ACTIVE BRACING - I do very little direct ab work unless it’s requested. I LOVE what I call active bracing drills, where you have to lock your torso down against a movement that’s trying to make you move: Pallof variations, planks with rows and other movements, suitcase carries, etc.

  4. CARRIES - Picking up something heavy, maybe even something awkward, and having to move around with it while maintaining good posture is one of the most functional things we can do. It also makes you generally “farm strong.”

  5. ANTERIOR vs POSTERIOR - In general, people need more posterior (backside: lats, traps, spinal erectors, glutes, hamstrings) work in relation to anterior work (front side: quads, abs, hip flexors, pecs). So I try to build in a 3:2 ratio of back:front work.

Obviously, some of these can overlap. Suitcase carries check the unilateral, active bracing, and carries boxes. Someone might not be ready for barbell squats and do some form of split squats. This is a general guide for the average person, but the scales and possibilities are really only limited by your imagination.