Author: Coach Rik
Having a plan when entering the gym is the single most important thing to having long-term success in performance, health & wellness, weight loss etc. Regardless of if it is just a general outline or is a detailed program, it creates a framework for you to abide by. A quality program allows you to plan, track and review your progression so you can see results or pitfalls. It allows for consistency as you have a structured idea of what to do and when. With that being said, it can be a difficult task for those that are unsure of how to put something like this together, and understandably so. There are many factors that go into programming, and it can cause some frustration and confusion without guidance. Below are some aspects to take into consideration when trying to plan for yourself.
- What are you trying to get out of your training sessions? Are you trying to lose weight, build muscle or both? Are you an athlete training for sport? Do you just want to get fit or stay healthy? The goal or objective of your training will dictate how you need to plan moving forward.
- How many days a week do you want to train? How many days are feasible? How many days are optimal to reach your goal? Being realistic with how much time you can commit to training is a must. Putting a 6-day program together is just dandy, but if your lifestyle does not fit, then your progress and results will suffer. Secondly, identify what the optimal frequency is to get what you want out of your program. A person who is just training to get stay fit, is going to have a vastly different plan than an Olympic weightlifter. The duration of each session will play a role in this as well. The longer you stay in the gym, the less days per week that are needed, and vice versa. The biggest key is to be self-aware of who you are and what is going to keep you consistent. Do you like to work out every day, or have days off? How long will your sessions take? For the most part I like to stay conservative. If you do too much too early on it can cause burnout and fatigue and can affect motivation levels. All in all, anywhere from 2-6 days a week, and sessions lasting from 30mins to 1.5 hours is where most people sit depending on what your goals are.
- Training Age
- How long have you been training for? This will influence how often you need to train depending on your goals. Novices will progress faster and can get more out of each session compared to someone who has been training consistently for a decade. Newbies will also be able to handle more frequency compared to a veteran as their overall load will not be as taxing, and they will be able to recover faster from intense bouts. Someone who has been training for a decade has a large base and can handle harder workouts as well as more advanced training methods. The more intense and advanced the training, the more focus needed on recovery and rest between sessions. Always think simple to complex and be honest with yourself. Slow-cook your training. Start with the basics and progress slowly to stay healthy.
- What kind of routine do you want to put together? This is dependent upon all the above factors. Your goals will dictate what kind of exercise you will be doing (cardio, strength training, etc.) The frequency will dictate how your week will be laid out. Do you need total body sessions, upper/lower splits, Push/pull, or by muscle group? Your training age can influence your exercise selection and set/rep schemes. Advanced individuals may not benefit from the same thing as a beginner would.
At the end of the day there is no right or wrong answer it comes down checking off these three boxes.
- Are you seeing the results you want?
- Are you staying safe & injury free?
- Are you staying consistent?
If you check off these three things, then your plan is probably moving in the right direction.