If you have conversed with me before about exercise and training, you might be aware that CrossFit is not one of my preferred methods of training. You might also know I do not talk down on CrossFit athletes; in fact, I have an incredible amount of respect for them and what they do.
With the being said, this article is not about CrossFit, so keep reading. I want to focus on the benefits of programming workouts. I used CrossFit as an example, even though plenty of good box’s exist which provide proper programming, just as many do not provide programming or even more individuals that subscribe to the WOD (where’s the T?) and have no progression in their training.
Why should most of you stop talking down on CrossFit? If you go to the gym day in and day out freelancing your training sessions and doing random exercises which fit in your allotted amount of time, you are just as guilty for not programing your workouts. I see the lack of programming on a daily basis in the gym’s I train at by average gym-goers and also PERSONAL TRAINERS! If your trainer is creating the session as you go along and cannot explain why you are doing the exercise, frequency, intensity or rest interval you should probably ask for your money back, unless you just want to work out and not work towards a goal.
A specific program should be developed for your training regardless if your ultimate goal is to lose fat, build muscle, increase strength and/or endurance. I may not necessarily agree with a lot of teachings within CrossFit, but again, the CrossFit athletes impress the hell out of me and especially after doing a workout for About Time Nutrition with the amazing Christy Adkins at my home gym, The Exercise Warehouse in Pittsburgh, PA. The true CrossFit athletes train insane in different modalities, not just what you expect and most importantly, THEY FOLLOW PROGRAMS!
As a personal trainer with a background in more than a weekend certificate, I feel it is vital for each of my clients to follow a program based on their individual differences and expectations. When you just enter you gym and bounce from exercise to exercise hitting 10 reps here, 2 here, maybe include in a pyramid up and down, and include higher reps when you are cutting and lower reps when you’re bulking (LOL I’m kidding, that is not how it works) you are likely to progress, however, not optimally or knowledgeably.
Similar to just doing a bunch of random WOD’s, how do measure progress? Yes, you can do the identical workout again and see if you are able to increase the weight or repetitions or decrease the duration. Let’s get real though most individuals are not monitoring the workouts that closely. Furthermore, each workout should be preparing you to improve for the next session. Next time you comment to your “Bro” that you have plateaued, realize you should be following a periodized program, allowing for constant improvement.
For example, I used to follow a program, but I didn’t have it customized for me and being a novice I would constantly be testing my max or going down to 1-2 reps each workout. Since increasing my knowledge and researching different types of methods, I began to adapt my training to a Cube Method (by Brandon Lilly) form of training. The Cube Method requires me to test my max only 1 time every 2 to 3 months, which allows me to consistently build strength, rather than constantly testing my strength.
The programs I develop, utilize some form of periodization. Based on the individual/s experience, fitness level, and desired frequency I begin drafting a plan to meet their personal goal. Any goon can crush someone with weights and run them into a ground for a “hard workout.” Not everyone can improve someone’s health, condition and strength. The motto that I follow and try to instill in my clients is: “We don’t exercise, we TRAIN!” Exercise can be any form of activity and is beneficial toward your health. To train though, is to have an identified goal and have an individualized plan set in place to achieve success.
Think of it like driving to a new destination, chances are you will use a GPS to get you from point A to point B. In the case of achieving your goal, we will to refer to your program as a GPS, goal-positioning system. Plug in your destination (long-term goal) and allow for rest stops (short-term goals) along the way. Define a path that directs you to the final destination. Just as you may encounter roadblocks, allow some wiggle room so a minor detour does not cause you to turn around and head home. If you are not well educated or experienced in this area, identify someone who has experience to guide you.
When researching coaches, beware of “cookie cutter” programs and stay away from a coach that is giving you advice based on “what they did to win their contest.” Validate the credentials to ensure the experience of the coach. Do not be afraid to challenge the coach or the program, we are talking about your health!
I will leave you with my final thought:
• Doing any type of exercise is better than no exercise
• Following any program is better than no program
• Following a program specific to you is OPTIMAL
• I LOVE OPTIMAL
Get Strong, Stay Strong