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How to Create a Flexibility Session Plan: Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

how to create a flexibility plan

If you’re a personal trainer looking to help out various clients, you should consider implementing a flexibility session plan into your programmes. 

There are heaps of benefits to improving flexibility, but with so many factors to take into account, you may not know where to start. So, follow our guide to get on the right track or skip to our examples.

Before we get started, if you want to gain some further experience, why not enquire about OriGym’s level 4 personal training courses? Or, find plenty of other fitness and health courses in our downloadable course prospectus.

 

Step 1 | Determine Who You Are Creating a Flexibility Session Plan For

flexibility session plan

The first step is to determine who you’re creating the plan for. This is incredibly important as it allows you to ensure that the plan is both safe and effective for the client. 

If you have a particular personal trainer niche, this might be a little easier for you since you already have a holistic overview of the kind of client you take on. That said, everybody is different so you should still be taking some factors into account such as:

  • Age
  • Injury
  • Body fat percentage
  • Clientele goals

These are variables that will determine the types of movements that you will include in your flexibility training session plan. For example, if you’re working with an elderly client, you’re going to need to use more lower impact movements. 

On the other hand, if you’re working with somebody who is looking to excel in their sporting profession, you may want to push them a little further to ensure they’re going to see results over time.

You might have clients with arthritis or people who only need increased flexibility in one area due to their sporting activities, like footballers. They need flexibility in their legs to avoid risk of injury; without this flexibility, they’re increasing the chance of injuries that could have them sitting out of matches and some even stopping their career.

flexibility training session plan

The point we're trying to make is that each of these individual factors can impact how you should be stretching the body. In turn, this will influence the programme you create and determine whether you have to take more care with a particular clients than others to avoid any risk of injury. 

So, before you begin, ensure that you start any plan or programme with a consultation in which you can find out their goals and generally, what areas should be or need to be focused on more than others.

Let’s take a look at each of these components in some more detail so you know how to apply this to your clients.

Age / Gender: 

This is important as the older your clients get, the more care you will need to take. You also need to watch out for any conditions that come with age like various kinds of arthritis. 

Considering gender is important too, since there are some conditions that individuals will be more susceptible to depending on their gender.  For example, osteoporosis is more common in females and in elderly women.  

Risk Factors

As a personal trainer, you’re probably accustomed to taking any sort of risk factors into consideration, and when it comes to flexibility training it is no compromise. 

You could set a level of what you believe your client is at. For example, if they’re young, healthy and have no underlying health conditions you could rule them as a ‘very low’ risk of injury.

You would find out at what level your client is during the ParQ and consultation process, which would be done before any programme planning took place. The more you get to know your client, you will get to know what they can and can’t handle and therefore can create a better tailored programme.

flexibility training session plan example

Body Composition

Body fat is something that you need to consider if it is affecting the client’s joints. For example, if your client is overweight, there is going to be more pressure on their joints and thus, could make them more susceptible to injury. 

Of course this isn’t the case for every client and having weak joints isn’t always down to weight or body fat but, you must consider this possibility. 

For reference, you can see below a body fat table so you can see where your client sits and if you need to take any extra precautions with pressure you’re putting on the joints; or, if they would benefit from flexibility more in some areas than others.

flexibility training session plan example

With this in mind, you can start to think about how you’re going to weave in your client’s goals into this session plan.  

Step 2 | Determine Your Client’s Goals

flexibility session plan example

Like any training programme, there is a desired outcome. So, you need to have a goal in mind to be able to tailor a programme, this doesn’t have to be super specific but it can be if necessary.

Goals will help you to determine where on the body your client would benefit from improved flexibility. For example, if your client is an avid figure skater, they’re required to reach a high level of flexibility.

Maybe they’re trying to achieve one particular move more than others. This could be an achievable goal that is specific to them as a client.

On the other hand, you can have holistic goals like the elderly wanting to stay mobile and avoid any nasty falls as they become much more common with age. 

Whatever the goals are, it is what will give your programmes tailored to touch to ensure your clients see results.

Use SMART fitness goals with your clients so they understand what they can expect to see in X amount of time and so there are no unrealistic expectations going forward. 

This will keep your clients happy in knowing that what they want to achieve, especially when it comes to flexibility progress, will take time.

Step 3 | Create a Client Profile & Plan

flexibility training session plan for football

The best way to explain how to create a client profile and the flexibility session plan itself is to demonstrate exactly that. So, below you can see what an ideal flexibility training session plan example, along with a client profile, would look like and what it might consist of. 

You can see below an example of a hypothetical client which might help you to finalise some profiles of your own.

flexibility session cool down

This client is healthy, but is older and particularly concerned about her hip mobility. Since she is female, she is at higher risk of developing osteoporosis. 

With that in mind, you should include stretches in your flexibility session plan that could help mobility in these problematic areas. That might look something like this:

training session plan for flexibility

These stretches have been specifically chosen in order to combat areas that could potentially become problematic for the client, focusing on hips particularly.

The recommended duration and sets are as suggested to accompany other sessions like resistance or any kind of weight bearing activity, so if you’re wondering how long should a flexibility session last? The answer changes depending on the client. 

Using this example, they are an older client and so their durations are less intense but the repetitions are higher so that they receive enough rest inbetween and don’t do more harm than good. 

You should keep this in mind when deciding how long sessions should last, as it is subjective to each client profile since the appropriate amount of time will depend on factors such as age, ability, and goals.

This is also true for how intense a session should be and how many reps you should set for your client to do. 

For example, an older client is going to probably need more sets but with duration at a lower intensity. This is vastly different to the type of plan you would set for a gymnast who is going to go through intense flexibility training with high duration and likely high sets too.

It all depends on their experience, goals and ultimately what they are capable of.

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For some more useful information on how to help your clients get the most from their sessions with you, read our articles below:

Flexibility Exercises You Could Include In Your Plan

warm up for flexibility session

Training Session to Improve Flexibility in the Legs

These are the kind of stretches that you could include in a flexibility training session plan for football players that come to you or anybody who wants an improved range of motion for their lower half.

#1 Forward Lunges

Set Up: Set up this stretch by grabbing a mat that is thick enough to protect the knees. You won’t need any equipment or even much space. 

Execution:

  • Lower onto the knees and put your hands on your hips.
  • Lift one leg forward so your food is flat on the ground and your knee is at a 90 degree angle.
  • In order to assist with balance, place the hands on the floor when getting into position if needed.
  • Once balanced and comfortable, slowly push the hips forward and downward.
  • The stretch can be held, or performed moving - whichever is more comfortable.

Muscles Targeted: Hip flexors, groyne & quadriceps.

Duration: 10-20 seconds each side.

#2 Standing Lateral Lunge

Set Up: All you will need is a mat for this stretch and some space around you.

Execution:

  • Begin with your mat horizontally and stand in the middle
  • Side step your legs away from one another until they are over shoulder width apart.
  • With one leg planted firmly on the floor and toes facing forward, lean into this leg by pushing the hips back and lengthening the other leg.
  • Place your arms straight out in front of you so your fingertips are facing the mat.
  • Keep facing forward and lean until you feel the stretch.

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps, glutes, adductors & hamstrings.

Duration: 10-20 seconds each side.

#3 Standing Quad Stretch

Set Up: Set up this stretch with a mat and some space. You may want to be near a wall if assistance is needed.

Execution:

  • First, start by finding balance; you can have a wall to lean on or put one arm outstretched to the side for help.
  • Bend your leg backwards and reach for the front of your foot.
  • Pull your foot into your glutes until you feel the stretch down your quads.
  • Repeat on the other leg.

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps.

Duration: 10-20 seconds each side.

#4 Seat Stretch

Set Up: Grab a chair, a gym block, or anything that is strong and stable enough to hold your weight and place it on top of a mat.

Execution:

  • Sit on the chair normally, then scoot until you’re sitting on the edge of the seat; avoid going so far that the chair tips.
  • Once you feel comfortable and balanced, stretch one leg out in front of you.
  • With the heel on the floor of the stretched leg, rest your hands on the stabilised leg.
  • Lean forward slightly until you feel a stretch in the hamstrings.
  • Repeat on the other leg.

Muscles Targeted: Hamstrings.

Duration: 10-20 seconds on each side.

#5 Knees to Chest

Set Up: Get set up with a thick mat that is comfortable enough for your back. 

Execution:

  • Sit on your mat vertically in the centre.
  • Roll back and lie down.
  • Raise your knees up to the chest and hold them in place with your hands.
  • This could be on the outside or at the back of the knees depending on your range of motion. 
  • Hold in place for the recommended duration.

Muscles Targeted: Hip flexors, lumbar spine, glutes & the hamstrings.

Duration: 10-20 seconds.

 

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Training Session Plan for Flexibility of the Torso

Torso flexibility is hugely beneficial for everyday mobility and for the success in sporting or gym activities. These following stretches all contribute to improving the flexibility of the torso.

#1 Upward Facing Dog

Set Up: Set up this exercise with ease, all you will need to do is grab a mat. It doesn’t require much room as there is minimal movement involved. 

Execution:

  • Begin  with your mat vertically in front of you and stand at one end of the mat.
  • Lower yourself down into a plank position.
  • Lower the hips down with control until the fronts of your feet, shins and knees are on the mat.
  • All the while, keep your palms planted firmly on the mat with your arms lengthened.
  • Push up into the stretch until you feel a comfortable stretch through the upper body.
  • Hold for the recommended duration.

Muscles Targeted: Abdominals, trapezius, rear deltoids & the erector spinae.

Duration: 10-20 seconds.

#2 Cat Cow

Set Up: Start with a comfortable mat that feels comfortable for your knees, if the knees need some extra support, double up on mats or use a thicker one since there is some amount of weight bearing on the knees.

Execution: 

  • Begin with the mat out in front, vertically.
  • Lower down on the mat onto all fours.
  • Ensure that the hands are underneath the shoulders and your knees are underneath the hips.
  • Once comfortable in this position, begin sinking the back down. 
  • You can imagine your belly button getting closer to the mat, allowing your back to arch inwards.
  • Slowly feel the stretch then reverse the movement to create an arched back until you feel the torso stretch again.
  • Keep the movement flowing for the recommended amount of time.

Muscles Targeted: Rectus abdominis & erector spinae.

Duration: 10-20 seconds.

#3 Standing Side Bend

Set Up: This is an easy stretch that requires no equipment, just a little bit of room. 

Execution:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • With your hands by your side and head position facing forward.
  • Bend laterally until you feel a stretch down the opposite side.
  • Read your fingertips down the side of your leg until about the point of your knee caps.
  • At a controlled speed, raise back to the starting position and repeat.

Muscles Targeted: External obliques.

Duration: 10-20 seconds each side.

#4 Dead Hangs

Set Up: This stretch is best performed in a gym space that has a sturdy pull up bar unit. Ensure that you have a weight bearing bar that is tall enough that you will be able to hang straight down without touching the floor or bending the knees.

Execution:

  • Jump up and grip the bar above your head in a pronated grip.
  • Allow your body to hang down using your core to stabilise any swing.
  • Hold for whatever length of time feels sufficient based on your ability. 

Muscles Targeted: Forearms, wrist flexors, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids & the deltoids. 

Duration: 10-20 seconds ideally, however don’t push past any strain. It is a demanding stretch / exercise so stop when you feel necessary. 

Flexibility Training Session Plan for the Arms

These are great stretches for a flexibility session cool down, they aren’t demanding yet still allow for a deep stretch with great benefits.

#1 Low Back Hand Clasp

Set Up: All you will need is a little space, this stretch requires no equipment.

Execution: 

  • Start by standing in a neutral position.
  • Reach behind your back and clasp your hands together. 
  • Push your chest out until you feel a stretch.
  • Hold for the recommended duration. 

Muscles Targeted: Deltoids, pectorals & the supraspinatus. 

Duration: 10-20 seconds each side.

#2 Assisted Side Bend 

Set Up: This is similar to our side bend for the torso, but you can also include this in your  flexibility session plan for the arms. You can either do this by using the wall as assistance as you can see in our video example, or, use your other arm while seated.

Execution:

  • Start by standing parallel to a wall at arms length.
  • Lift the arm that is closest to the wall and press this hand against the wall.
  • With the opposing arm, lift it over the head and bend over laterally in direction of the wall's side.
  • Using the assistance can help you to intensify or relax the exercise, so adjust the intermediacy accordingly.
  • Hold for the recommended duration and switch to the otherside.

Muscles Targeted: External obliques, latissimus dorsi, teres major, posterior deltoid & serratus anterior.

Duration: 10-20 seconds each side.

#3 Wrist Pull

Set Up: No equipment is necessary for this exercise, all you need is some space.

Execution:

  • Begin with one hand out in front of you and bend the wrist downwards.
  • With the opposite hand, grasp the four fingers of the outstretched hand.
  • Swing to the opposing shoulder so that the outstretched hand is now horizontally crossing the body.
  • This should stretch the arm while the other hand does the work of guiding the wrist pull.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Muscles Targeted: Triceps & deltoids.

Duration: 10-20 seconds each side.

#4 Overhead Tricep Stretch 

Set Up: This is an easy stretch for a cool down or warm up for a flexibility session, it requires no equipment and allows for a deep stretch.

Execution:

  • Begin by standing in a neutral position with feet shoulder width apart.
  • Reach both hands in the air above your head.
  • Allow one elbow to bend so your hand reaches down your back.
  • With the other arm hold this elbow and pull until you feel a stretch, be aware not to strain or pull too hard.
  • Hold for the recommended duration.

Muscles Targeted: Triceps.

Duration: 10-20 seconds each side.

Before You Go…

Now you have the examples and information you need to create your own flexibility session plan for any of your clients. 

Be sure to keep all of our tips in mind and your clients will start to see a dramatic change in their flexibility if they’re consistent. Don’t forget, if you want to start learning more and become a higher qualified PT, why not consider one of our personal training courses here at OriGym? 

Find advancement courses, yoga and many other accredited health and fitness certifications in our downloadable course prospectus here.

Written by Kimberley Mitchell

Editor

Having gained a B.A Hons degree in Media, Culture and Communications, Kimberley has gained experience in areas of web journalism, website production and marketing.

Alongside this, Kim expanded her knowledge and passion for fitness, by becoming a fully qualified fitness instructuor and personal trainer. Kim has also gained specialist qualifications in yoga, nutriton, spin and many more.

After working in the industry as a PT, Kimberley went on to study an MA in Digital Marketing and continues to expand her knowledge in the industry. Her main focus is to keep up with current trends and communications with a focus around health & fitness, writing and being creative.

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