What’s a workout program? It’s the thing I follow when I workout! Duh
Yes. Initially as you look at this title, this may seem like the most unnecessary article ever written. Most people know a workout program is important, but still, many people are making some simple mistakes that, if they fix them, will make them a more super awesome version of their already super awesome selves. Here is what you need to do to make sure you are getting the most out of your program.
- Write it down- Your program is your blueprint to success in the gym. Imagine an architect creating a blue print for an amazing building but trying to memorize it all. Would there be some small details that would be forgotten? Of course there would be! Instead of creating a building, your program blueprint is your tool to create the physique or fitness level you want.
People who don’t write their program down often miss or forget to complete exercises on a given day or over the course of a week.
Example: “Ok I need to do core today at the end of my workout”…. Flash forward 55 minutes. I’m tired, and Game of Thrones is on. I’ll do core tomorrow. Flash forward to the next week . Repeat pattern. = No core done in a month.
The exercises that typically get forgotten are smaller accessory based exercises, but forgetting those over time adds up and can lead to less desired change. If mobility and recovery is what gets forgotten about, it can lead to injury and time away from exercises. No exercise = no increase in super awesomeness.
- Progress it- The goal of being in a gym, for most people, is to improve or progress. Your program needs to have planned progressions. In order to truly know your program is progressing, you need to see it in volume. For weight lifting volume=sets x reps x weight. Do you need to calculate that out? No. But try to make sure that one of those 3 parameters increases each workout as the others stay the same. Plan what you will try and increase each day. Even just the mental focus on that increase will lead to a far greater likelihood that you accomplish your task.
Cardio can be trickier. You can measure average heart rate. But an easier method is calories burned or distance based on what the machine says. Are they always perfectly accurate? No. But the algorithms used by the machines to calculate those parameters stay the same. So if you burn more calories or go a greater distance in the same amount of time, you are progressing!
- Recover- We don’t improve when we work. We improve when we recover. Recovery can be a very complicated thing to figure out, but try and stick with 2 simple tips. If you are working out more than 3-4 days per week you will likely benefit by taking 1 week out of every 4 a little bit easier. Still lift the same weight, but do a few less sets and lower your cardio volume a bit. If you have some life stuff happening, and know you won’t be able to make it to the gym, use that week as your recovery. Pre-planning will ensure you still workout hard around that time, and rest when you need it.
- Personalize it- This is where it gets a bit trickier. People always ask, what is the best program for me to do to accomplish X? Answer: One that works for your body and one you can adhere to. Every BODY responds a bit different and needs different things based on strengths and weakness, injuries, lever lengths, hip width etc. When in doubt, ask a professional. That investment will go a long way to helping you achieve your goals.