When it comes to creating a program for yourself, there’s one thing that is often overlooked when someone begins creating a routine. No, you shouldn’t start with exercise selection. No you shouldn’t pick how many days you’re going to train or what body parts of lifts you’re going to do on what days.
You should be thinking about adherence.
Adherence is probably overlooked because it’s so simple and you’re just itching to do the absolute most training you can do to maximize GAINZZZZ. But what happens when life gets in the way?
It’s important to design a program that is not only effective but will allow you to stick to what you actually have planned for yourself. I’ll pose some questions you can consider when developing your plan to getting jacked and tan (like that rhyming?)
Will My Program Help Me Reach My Goal?
What exactly are your trying to accomplish? Stronger, more muscle, fat loss? Knowing what you’re trying to get done will anchor you and keep you from straying off and foregoing adherence for the sake of doing things or exercises that aren’t useful to your goal. Of course, it’s fine to play around and throw a wrench in the gears every now and then to keep things fun, but it shouldn’t be common. Write down your goal, keep it in your mind, and consider it when you’re thinking of straying away.
Is What I’m Doing Practical?
A major issue that I have with a lot of online trainers or fitness personalities is that they promote what is “optimal”. Sure, it’s optimal to train every single day, but is that practical? When I say practical, I am referring to how realistic and flexible any specific component is of your training. It’s not useful to yourself if you’re only doing what’s optimal because chances are you have to sacrifice something else that’s more important for that optimal outcome (spending time with people, taking time away from school or work, etc.)
The second point about practicality is that it is not always far from optimal, and it’s likely worth doing what’s practical at the expense of a marginal improvement if that requires a major sacrifice of time elsewhere.
For example, I’m just making this up here, but suppose that research shows that eating 5 meals a day is optimal and produces the greatest improvement in hypertrophy; however, eating 4 meals a day has the second greatest result and it holds 95% of the same amount of benefit to 5 meals/day. If eating 4 meals a day fits with your schedule perfectly, but eating 5 causes you additional stress and prep time, should you suck it up and eat 5 meals? No, dammit! You’re getting most of the result anyway from something that meshes perfectly with your schedule. Maybe you do get a 5% benefit but at the cost of a lot of time elsewhere. It’s simply not worth what you give up. Consider this question when reviewing optimal vs. practical strategies.
Will I Have Fun With This Program?
One of the most important things (in my mind) is whether or not you are actually going to enjoy your training. If you wake up and absolutely hate going to the gym every day, you’re not going to stick with it or you will cut corners or simply not put in the effort needed to continue growing.
Having fun is different from easy, however. Your training should still be challenging, but in a way that keeps you coming back for more. If needed, throw in a “whatever” day where you go in and do whatever you want that’s off the program for a day. If that is going to help you stick to the rest of the training days, then that’s awesome! Find out what works for you to keep you on track.
Do I Have Enough Time For Other Things In My Life?
While I am a huge advocate of weight training and fitness in general, it should not be the only aspect of your life. In order to improve ourselves inside and outside of the gym, we must find things that light that fire inside us. It can be found in work, hobbies, music, etc. Maybe training is that for you! If that’s the case, then spend time outside of the gym learning more about training and nutrition and ways to optimize your training. If you enjoy training but it’s not that one thing that fires you up, give yourself enough time for those things that do.
This is important for adherence because if you’re giving up time for things you enjoy because you feel like you NEED to train, you won’t be able to put in your best effort in the gym. Find out for yourself what works for you and develop a plan to allow that flexibility.
Fitness should improve your life, not become your life.
- Know your goal and design your training to stick to and reach it
- Practicality will almost always be the best choice
- Have fun with your training
- Give yourself time for other important matters in life
In addition, here’s the YouTube video I made that goes along with this read. I will be putting out more videos breaking down the pyramid similarly to what I’m doing here on the blog because I know some people like to read whereas others like to watch!
What are some other things you think about when developing your own program or for a client? Let me know in the comments below!