Why We Write Programs Not Workouts

Unfortunately, it's far too common in the fitness industry to see trainers scribbling down a workout for their client 10 minutes before they show up. They'll throw something together last minute to appear prepared, when in reality, they're anything but prepared. I've seen it constantly when working at other places. 

We can even back up a step, and say that maybe workout was prepared the night before. The problem is, when you make a workout, you're creating a singular exercise session intended to yield some type of benefit on that particular day. Not in a week, or a month, or a year. Just that day. It's usually going to be something challenging and it's almost always something completely different than the previous workout because people can get bored of doing the same things all the time, right?

It's usually this type of thinking that can yield progress for a short amount of time, but in the long run, will be anything but productive. How could it be? The focus is only on one day. Where's the plan? Where are you going? How are they going to get there?

If you liken exercise to a road trip, a workout could be an individual map (when we used to use those) of a specific city you're passing through. The thing is, without a map from the start to the end of the trip, you'll most certainly get lost. If it's the wrong city map, you may get even further from your destination.

Many people enjoy random tough workout after random tough workout because it gives them a sense of accomplishment. You really feel like you did something. Operating this way, however, isn't taking into account the bigger picture which is where are you going with all of this? What's the end result that you're chasing?

It seems to be all the rage today to hop in a large group training session, get destroyed, and do it again the next day. It can't be fun to be always sore, and the thing is, over time, this is detrimental. It's detrimental to your progress and to your health. Immediate progress is sometimes seen, but then it starts to taper off either due to an injury layoff or simply overtraining. 

When taking into account any fitness goal, it's crucially important that you're doing two things:

  1. Adequately fueling and recovering from exercise (nutrition, sleep, stress management)
  2. Training appropriately for your goal and capabilities (following a well-structured program)

When making a workout, rarely, if ever, are these two things taken into account; how can they be if they're a series of random workouts strung together? Simply training hard with no plan is arbitrary and potentially dangerous.

The beauty of the program is it takes the above information into account. There are planned rest periods and fluctuations in training to make sure the client or athlete is recovering from the training sessions. With regard to the workouts in the program, they should be individualized to the person. Not everyone should be doing a box jump or a deadlift. This is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

What does individualized mean? It means to assess someone before they come in to see what they're capable of, where their limitations are, and how to either fix or train around the limitations. If someone, for instance, cannot get their arms over their head without excessively arching their lower back, we know it's not safe for them to do an overhead press. Over time, the program should progressively get them to their goal. Each workout builds off the last one. If you're not assessing, you're just guessing.

This is why we create individual programs for our clients. It's the surest way to get people to their goal as safely and effectively, and not get lost along the way. Sure, it takes a little extra work, but there’s peace of mind in knowing you're on the right path.