I’ve experimented with various training methods and strategies over the years and I’ve found that there is definitely no single program which will be effective or appropriate for every person. To assume that such a magical combination of exercises exists is arrogant and foolish. The more specific a person’s goals are, the easier it is to design a program to achieve those goals. There in lies the problem because most people have no freakin’ idea what they want from a fitness regime so instead they use vague, non-descriptive words like “firm”, “toned”, or “super freakishly ripped” to explain what they’re looking for. The path is then further complicated by many different factors such as previous injuries, poor body mechanics, lack of commitment/time, or bad habits developed in previous attempts to look great in a bathing suit.
If a person is an athlete and wants to train for a specific sport then the problem does become significantly more simple because sports have certain variables which can be factored and accounted for such as time demands, strength and flexibility requirements, and certain skills which must be developed/enhanced. Once you know these landmarks and you know where you stand in relation to them, i.e. the need to become more agile, flexible, or explosive then you can start to plan your training sessions around them.
Keep this in mind, there is a distinct difference between “Working Out” and “Training” and the while the outcomes can occasionally be similar, the purpose is light years apart. “Working Out” is simply exercising in whatever form you enjoy doing. If you’re a Zumba fanatic then more power to you, but don’t think for a second that it will have any real effect on your performance on the field, ice, cage, or where ever you do battle as an athlete. Every “Training” session should have a specific and distinct purpose, otherwise whats the point? Simply because its Tuesday and thats what you do on Tuesday? While there are certainly days where we need to be mindless automatons just to get through the session, the more often we can be in the moment, taking responsibility for our own progress the more we will learn and accomplish in each time we set foot in the gym.
If you don’t have a sport or competition to guide your work outs then you need to decide with a realistic outlook what kind of physique you’re looking for. If you’re a classic ectomorph (tall and lanky, long musculature, usually can eat just about anything and won’t gain a pound) standing 6’4″ and tipping the scales at a whopping 150lbs. then the chances of you looking like Ronnie Coleman are pretty slim. In the same vein, if you’re 5’7″ and a flabby 240lbs. then you won’t be mistaken for an Olympic sprinter any time soon. Just because you weren’t blessed with the perfect genetics doesn’t mean you can’t make some drastic improvements on what you’re currently working with, but approaching the process with unrealistic expectations will only lead to frustration and disappointment.
So, are you an athlete training with laser focus looking for the extra edge to crush the competition or are you working out to get the best looking physique you possibly can? Figure out what you want and your path will be much easier.
In upcoming posts I will examine different training/fitness programs and comment on their effectiveness and application.
Feel free to post your goals to the comments section as well as different techniques you’ve used to accomplish them. Did something work well that you’d recommend to others or did it not live up to expectations? Let the world know!