Is Your Workout Program Really Working?
This may seem like a trivial question. After all, your program is either working or it is not. There are many ways we quantify whether or not we are heading in the right direction. Sometimes it is as simple as hopping on the scale, or taking out the measuring tape. Other times, we stare hard into the mirror or judge progress by how tight that t-shirt is fitting around your biceps.
However you monitor your progress, there are those out there who begin a program only to abandon it and look towards the next biggest, best or fastest thing. If this sounds like you, you are not alone. Read it. Then read it again. There are key concepts contained in this article that are the difference between progress and stagnation.
Training Program vs. Philosophy
What the heck do they mean, and how are they related? We all know someone who scours the internet to find ‘the next best thing’. They rave to everyone they know about the benefits, and quick return on performance / muscle gains…then after a few weeks they have abandoned it and are on to the next best thing. These are the same people who do not really seem to be making any long-lasting improvements and are often left frustrated.
#1. You are program-hopping, stop it!
Often you’ll see some initial gains, until you don’t. And when you don’t understand why, you switch. This switch never allows the athlete to look back and see why or where they failed in the first place.
#2. Training philosophy
Fail to plan or plan to fail. Even though a program may be set up differently or does not make sense to you (now), it behooves you to invest time to understand the ‘why’. A program may shift and change in order to make small adjustments along the way to reflect a change in training (or meet the specific needs of an athlete), but the main focus or principles are still rooted at the core of the program. Once this has been understood, just go with the flow and reap the successes.
#3. The responsibility of the athlete
The discouraged athlete will often switch to another program or self-change the program even before they allow their bodies to adapt and experience the good changes; often thinking what they know will ‘make the program better’.
Workout programs are often set up by qualified coaches who KNOW MORE THAN YOU. Would you let your surgeon do maintenance work on your Honda? Hell no! So don’t question the experts.
#4. The responsibility of the coach / trainer
A trainer is not going to design a program that he ripped off the internet that he / she feels deep down is utter crap. Anything that is counterproductive to the success of a workout program is likely not going to show up in your next WOD or boot camp class.
A competent coach / trainer who understands the philosophy and theory behind an exercise program will also notate that there are athlete limitations and so will make accommodations as needed to ensure athlete safety throughout training.
#5. (Bonus): Intensity
We all know our limits, or think we do. Often we pull up short, which can be a great thing to avoid injury. However, a competent coach / trainer will also know this, and more importantly, know where your intensity level should be. And if you are undercutting yourself, you’ll likely hear about it from them during a workout. Having someone understanding observe your intensity level and notate where you are not pushing hard enough to where you can be will be a difference-maker when you begin to see real gains on those key areas.
If you understand the philosophy of your workout program and accept that adjustments will be needed along the way – but the long term goal is never lost sight of, you’ll never need to abandon your training program for another one.