When it comes to getting your training on the right track you usually start with the selection of a training programme. Whether that means you develop your own training programme to achieve a certain goal or you adopt a widely available training programme, having something to follow will not only ensure you know what you are going to do every time you walk through the gym door, but the structure of a good programme should allow for progression towards an end goal. Ironically most programmes from the same field will allow you to achieve much the same goals as long as they follow a few basic principles. Heading back to my P.E GCSE’s now but what you learn on the most basic of levels still applies to a good programme. SPORT… Specificity, Progression, Overload, Regression, Time. You can go further on this and add the FITT acronym… Frequency, Intensity, Time, Type. Effectively as long as a programme is targeting your goals, shows consistent progression and overload and of course you take training time and intensity into account your programme will more than likely work. That is why there are hundreds of good programmes out there. There isn’t necessarily one that is better than any other but certain individuals react better to different forms of training and with so many successful athletes from the same sport using different programmes it can be a bit of a gamble when choosing your programme.
An aspect in the success of a training programme that will not change is sticking to it and being consistent. The most successful people I know, that is physically performance based are the ones that were consistent and consistent on only a few programmes over a long period of time. Chopping and changing between programmes because you haven’t instantly become Heman certainly won’t get you there. It takes time for your body to show adaptation to a training stimulus, more so if you are an experienced individual. You can see progression on a programme with only about 6-8 weeks of good training but for me however this is nowhere near long enough to get the most out of the training plan you’re doing. When people ask me what training programme I’m using or how to put their own programme together it would probably be more useful for me to say “pick the simplest exercises to make you better at what you want to do and do them for a while” This of course isn’t sound training advice but I am just trying to show you the importance of doing something good for a sustained period of time. I will be honest when I first started out in the gym, long before any studying or qualifications took place, I wanted to fill out a T-shirt. Not a bad goal considering I looked like a flagpole with a T-shirt hanging on it. I did what so many do and used good old google to find me a programme to build bigger Biceps and big shoulders. Several weeks later my biceps hadn’t grown and my shoulders weren’t any bigger. What I then did was go looking for the next programme that promised to build an amazing physique. For one I didn’t give the programme anywhere near enough time to have an effect on my body and I probably wasn’t eating enough food to support what I wanted anyway. Getting to the point, I myself was guilty of chasing a long-term goal with a short-term mindset. Now however I am about as organised with my training as it gets, It’s no coincidence I’m stronger now than this time last year and although my training has changed slightly over this time period the basic principles have remained the same.
With the new year fast approaching this is where I encourage my clients, athletes and myself to start targeting a goal that they will attempt next year. This can be as simple as a body fat percentage, a powerlifting total or a distance in a faster time than they currently can achieve. Often these goals are dictated by competition or a deadline date so it should be easy to pick a date at which you want to achieve your goal. When your goal is set you can begin your programming. I personally plan my cycle for 4 months at a time although I will not limit myself to a 4 month training plan and will have a longer training programme sitting in wait. This allows me to make adaptions to the longer programme and implement anything I have picked up in the first 4 months of training. One piece of advice I will give is buy a notebook. My notebook is battered, dog-eared and covered in chalk but it contains every set in every workout I’ve done for the last 6 months and has the exercises sets, reps, and tempo etc for the next 2. Altogether 8 months of training logged and accounted for.
You have probably read this far expecting the programme to pop up at the bottom but that is not the case. If you are unsure of a programme find one that points you towards your goals. If it makes you better remember it made you better, learn how your body reacts to certain elements and use that to adapt or choose your next programme. Training is as much an education as it is a challenge, the more you learn about your body the better your programming will eventually be. I guess the take home message here is this; You can have all the will power in the world but if you aren’t consistent your goals will likely never materialise. Reaching your final goal is a marathon not a sprint metaphorically speaking, so looking further down the line is so important for the success of any individual. I want to leave you with a quote from the highly successful Tony Robbins. Although he does not have a background in physical performance I believe his words resonate with a wide range of disciplines.
“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.”