Training

| July 20, 2021

A Brief Intro to Program Planning

Advocating a solid plan every day is essential to see change while training, no matter what angle you take it from. If you show up to the gym for just a “workout” alone and have no intention behind why you are there, you might find yourself over training certain areas while neglecting others.

By Steven Fitzpatrick

Read time: 3 min.

Advocating a solid plan every day is essential to see change while training, no matter what angle you take it from. If you show up to the gym for just a “workout” alone and have no intention behind why you are there, you might find yourself over training certain areas while neglecting others, this can be a very detrimental thing to do.

I always remind my clients that adaptations and muscular developments can also be developed into bad adaptations. Things such as muscle compensations can lead into worse situations like spinal deviations if left unchecked. Fortunately, we have muscle spindles (class of proprioceptors) that will put a limiting factor on our muscles if we overwork them and do not balance our agonist and antagonist muscles. With that being said, it can very quickly turn into a waste of time, (as an agonist muscle shortens to produce force, an antagonist muscle elongates to create a stretch reflex), both work collectively to allow the muscles to undergo movement safely.

The thing about change is that it generally uncomfortable. It should not be painful, but discomfort is the body undergoing growth, and struggle is the body's way of strengthening it. At the very least, while training, especially if you are a beginner, write down the exercises you are doing on a pen and paper tracker, or even more conveniently, a sheet document on your phone. It could look something like the following, very simple but very effective (just like a lot of good things are with fitness):

Exercise // Sets // Reps // Weight

Dumbbell chest press // 3 // 10 // 30lbs
Bent over barbell row // 3 // 8-10 // 50-60lbs

You can also try different pairings with whatever area you are training. For example, you can do super sets by working the same muscle back to back, compound sets by working opposing muscles back to back, trio sets by performing three exercises consecutively before rest, or giant sets which are a more advanced form of exercise grouping where four exercises are done back to back before rest. It's important to make sure the right exercises are chosen with giant sets, because you have to consider rest between not only each exercise, but for the entire set in terms of overworking or underworking certain muscles, managing fatigue, etc.

If you do this Monday for example, and you can repeat the same exercise on Wednesday or Thursday, and continue this for a few weeks until you feel you are getting stronger. From this point you can calibrate your volume, numbers and sets to create a tangent of growth, however proper calibration takes time, patience, practice and experience, which is why it's important to hire a good coach, to be able to read and effectively help you to decide and distinguish where you need to improve.

Never be afraid of trial and error, everyone responds differently, so just because something isn't working immediately doesn't mean it's not working. This is why having periodized training can be beneficial; it is objective driven on the surface, you follow the cycles of the program and after you complete it, you can reflect and decide what worked and what did not, this leads to complete optimization and can create true progression if done properly. One thing that will make very quick work of any gym goer is spinning tires. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting results, which will drive anyone crazy! So remember, at the very least, write down what you are doing to at least a small degree, build some form of progression that is outside of copious amounts of “light” volume, make sure that you are undergoing physical stress without injury to stimulate growth and never lose sight of the big picture.

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