Why Training Program Individualization is so Important


[4-minute read]

Each individual is physiologically unique and has a different set of strengths and weaknesses, along with a different context and personal goals. Therefore, training program individualization is necessary to ensure that each individual gets the most out of their training and optimizes their progress towards their goals.

What is the Principle of Individualization?

The principle of individualization dictates that training should be adjusted according to each individual’s characteristics and needs, such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Body composition
  • Training age
  • Injury history
  • What they’re training for
  • What their goals are

True training program individualization is time-consuming but it’s widely accepted to produce optimal performance outcomes. The goal of training program individualization is to provide each individual with a training program that is adequately challenging for them in order to:

  1. Reduce the likelihood of injury
  2. Address their weaknesses
  3. Capitalize on their strengths
  4. Increase their rate of progress/Achieve optimal physical adaptations

How do I Individualize a Training Program?

Training program individualization involves the manipulation of training variables based on the data you have for an individual. This manipulation can take many forms such as:

  • Exercise Variations
  • Different Set Schemes
  • Different Rep Schemes
  • Different Intensities
  • Different Training Frequencies

Some or all of these manipulations may be useful depending on the individual and their needs.

Image 1: A typical squat progression example

What data do I need for training program individualization?

To be able to individualize a client or athlete’s training program, first, you’ll need to carry out an assessment and gather some data to allow you to do so:

Context and Goals

  • What are they training for? Sport and specific position if applicable. What are the physiological and biomechanical requirements involved?
  • What are their goals?

Personal Info and History

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Training Age
  • Injury History

Physical Assessments

  • Body composition / Body weight, Body Fat %, Fat Mass, Lean Mass
  • Movement screening / such as Functional Movement Screening to identify sub-optimal movement patterns 
  • Appropriate tests for the individual’s context. These can vary depending on what the individual is training for but will usually include tests for:
    • Aerobic / Yo-Yo Test, 1km/1.2km Run Test, VO2 Max Test
    • Speed / 10m Sprint, 40m Sprint
    • Power / Vertical Jump, Drop Jump, Broad Jump
    • Strength / Back Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Chin-ups, Clean, Snatch

For more information on testing see Science for Sport’s great resources on the different testing categories and see our blog from Swim Ireland’s Ryan Keating on carrying out a Needs Analysis.

Once you have gathered this information you’ll then be in a position to make the necessary adjustments to an individual’s training program.

Monitoring and progression

It is critical that you monitor progress over time and re-test in order to determine whether the manipulations have been successful or not and whether the individual can progress to the next phase. Developments in technology have made the collection and analysis of data frictionless so coaches can make data-led decisions to progress an individual onto the next phase of a training program or make adjustments to their training program to optimize performance.

Potential drawbacks of training program individualization

Training program individualization does have some potential drawbacks that you should be aware of so that you can avoid them.

Veering away from tried and tested training principles

Certain training program templates that have been designed with established training principles are tried and tested and are proven to work for the majority of people if applied correctly. The more you veer away from these norms the greater the risk is of the training program becoming ineffective. To avoid falling into this trap, make sure that any changes you make to the training program follow the main training principles of Specificity, Overload, Variation, Recovery, Reversibility, etc.

Individualization for individualization’s sake

Especially with individuals with a low training age, there is usually no need to make training more complex. As long as they’re executing with good technique and making good progress towards their goals then why complicate things by adding complexity?


Training program individualization when applied correctly can produce optimal performance outcomes, reduce injury risk, address weaknesses, and capitalize on an individual’s existing strengths. In order to achieve that, coaches first need to get a full picture of the individual by gathering data about their context and goals, their personal information and history, and carrying out physical assessments that are relevant to their context. With this data, they can then make appropriate manipulations to the individual’s training program while ensuring that they stick to established training principles and don’t fall into the trap of individualization for individualization’s sake.

Click here to learn more about the other Training Principles of Overload, Individualization, Specificity, Adaption, Recovery, and Reversibility.

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About RYPT

At RYPT we’re dedicated to making the delivery of individualized fitness programs, and the gathering of performance data frictionless, so that coaches have the insights they need to optimize the performance of each individual. It’s our goal to connect individuals with high-quality coaches and help coaches to optimize performance and the performance of their business.

RYPT provides coaches with a digital channel to connect with their clients and athletes and bespoke tools to build, and deliver individualized training programs and monitor exercise, training load, well-being, and nutrition data. Giving coaches the full picture of their client’s and athlete’s performance, and the insights they need to make data-led decisions to optimize performance, prevent overtraining and injury, and improve results. The RYPT coaching platform is supported by eCommerce functionality with powerful automation to help coaches monetize their expertise by reaching more remote clients.

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