By: Benjamin Cole
There are countless fitness programs, promotions, and plans out there that someone could spend an eternity scouring the internet for the 'right' one but actually end up worse off than they started because it wasn't the right one for that person. We all have highly individual needs, bodily dynamics, and morphology, and finding or building the proper fitness program depends on who you are, what you do, and fundamentally, what you want. Join me today as I lay out what you need to know fundamentally.
In this post I'm going to outline the base elements for building an effective fitness program. This isn't going to give you a bro-split, push-pull-legs, or a program at all. Rather, I'm going to outline the basic principles that go into building a program so that you can build your own with them. From there, it's plug-and-play, because the internet and YouTube abound with exercises and splits.
(Or you could hire a PT or trainer @ Evolve Fitness Studios ;)
What do you do?
First and foremost, what do you do? Why do you want to 'get fit,' and what does that look like to you? Is it six-pack abs or a 315lb deadlift? Is it being able to run a 5k? Does going for your fitness goal complement or interfere with your day-to-day lifestyle and work? These are all questions that need to be answered if you are to find or build the right program for your lifestyle.
As an example, it's not necessarily a good idea to put yourself on a diet cut in combination with your new fitness routine if your work is cognitively demanding or requires you to be aware for the safety of others. Coming into a job where you have to be your best while you're not just depleted calorically but physically exhausted too puts you at a high risk for injury and endangers you and potentially others.
This is why you should consider what you do daily before hopping into a new program--you want your program to complement, not detriment, your lifestyle. Do you walk a lot for your job? Then considering low-intensity, long-duration cardio split throughout the week would be a great way to complement your work; the extra cardio makes your day-to-day easier, not harder. HIIT would be helpful too.
Another example would be if your job requires you to sit a great deal. Perhaps the most common postural distortion personal trainers and PTs see is upper crossed syndrome, which is a physical condition of the shoulders rounding, upper thoracic spine overly curved, causing pinched nerves and tight front (anterior) muscles. This occurs because the body forms itself to its most common positions.
So you wouldn't want to get right into a radical push-based program that 'maximizes your bench' because you would be causing more harm than good. You'd want to build a program exemplifies pulling motions to combat the shortened muscles you have from your daily sitting posture. This way, when you get into work, having worked pull muscles the day previous, your body is more balanced.
Is it energy efficient? What's your typical energy intake/output?
At first, it sounds great. "I'm gonna get shredded or massive this month with my new program," you think. Then, come week two, after your 4th workout of the week and 12th chicken breast that's three days old and dry as the Mojave, you start to lose steam. Why? Because your body hasn't yet adapted to the new energy input and output. The body has its own economy of energy allocation and production.
Engaging in a new fitness routine has multiple facets: new recovery demands placed on your entire system; more macros to digest to fuel you and build damaged muscles, which requires calorie burn itself; more, deeper sleep to rebuild; nervous system recalibration to account for foreign movement. All of these factors take a tremendous toll on the body and mind if the program isn't tailored right to you and your needs. If you go too fast too soon you'll burn out and likely want to quit. Don't do that. Consistency >
Instead, take into consideration, again, what you do daily. Does the program complement that? Great. Is it adding undue complexity to your life and making you stressed because you 'missed a day'? Not great. Create a program that seamlessly--if you can--melds into your daily life so feel energized going into it, coming out of it, and genuinely look forward to it, and don't beat yourself up if you miss. It's the rest days that we're really building, so don't be afraid to take an extra to rest to come back stronger the next.
What are you goals?
This would've been the first point in most fitness blogs--where do you want to be in 8 weeks? How would that feel? Do you want to look good, be strong, lose weight, or all three? This is important, but only once you know how you want a program to fit into your life, and not make your life fit the program, can you nail down some hard goals. Don't be afraid to aim high, because the human body is highly adaptable and resilient. If you really go for it but don't hit that high goal, say, squatting 315, you'll still be stronger than you started. You will be surprised how quickly the body forms itself to your goals. So really go for it!
Be ready to commit.
Perhaps the most disappointing moment for a PT or trainer is when their client gives in, doesn't show up, or quits. We get it--a new program can be demanding, forcing us to adapt and elevate our mindset to meet the demands of an arduous program. But you have to know that adaption occurs when it gets hard.
If you aren't ready to face the demands that come with an engaging and formidable program, then you might as well not start. If you want to excel in life and elevate, as we do at Evolve Fitness Studios, then you have to be able to show up consistently for yourself, day in and day out. And that includes days off!
I hope this brief piece on the building blocks of creating or finding a program help you. To reiterate, this is intended to show you what you should take into consideration before choosing or creating a fitness program. There are many fads out there trying to sell you a whole-lotta-nothing, but if you're clear on these basic principles it will be easy to find or create the right program to help you evolve.
About Benjamin Cole
Benjamin is a multimedia freelancer and health and wellness practitioner. He has been training the mind and body for nearly a decade and writes and speaks regularly about the benefits through various channels and pages. Through his work he hopes to inform people on how they connect to their inner guidance and higher self so that they may live more illuminated and inspired lives.
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