1. Follow a Program to Get the Best Results
First and foremost, you should absolutely follow a program for the best results. Following a well-written program will get you closest to your goals. Random doesn’t help you. You need to practice lifts to get better at them, and you need to get better at them to progress. Will doing 100 burpees help you? No. Will 100 burpees make you stronger? No. Will doing burpees today, a few sit ups tomorrow and clean Friday give you any kind of foundation on which to build? Absolutely not. If you want to get abs, train to get abs. If you want to get better at burpees, do burpees. (But I’ll never make you do burpees.)
However, practicing the same lifts for a training block helps you strategically build. The body is extremely specific in the way it responds and adapts. To get better at something (ie, bigger, faster, stronger, more coordinated), you must practice the specific things you want to improve. Not random movement all over the map.
2. It Takes Away The Mental Energy of Planning
Following a good program takes away the mental energy of wondering what you’re going to lift, creating the flow of the session, and adjusting the numbers.
Humans make tens of thousands of decisions a day; some researchers suggest up to 35,000. That’s a lot! Often we have more physical energy than mental energy, especially by the end of the day, and that mental fatigue can sometimes be a block to getting your training in. If you have a plan already decided upon, you know you simply have to execute.
3. Ensure a Time Return on Investment
Since you are investing time and effort and energy, you might as well make sure you have something to show for it! To be clear, any exercise you do will be good for your body. Even taking walks and quick workouts here and there.
But if you are really training and have serious goals, you won’t see the results you want from randomly popping into the gym and moving around some. Choose a smart program and make it work for you!
4. Visualize Your Progress and See the Best Results
This is where training gets fun! When you follow a good program, you begin to see what you are capable of. A program with smart, steady progression gives you a view into the future. You’ll gain progress on the exercises you are practicing and workouts to compare to, so you can see the increase in weight and reps that you are doing. You can see your progress happening real time.
Additionally, it allows you to track your progress and learn from it for the future.
Finally, have some camaraderie! Do a program with a friend and encourage each other through the tough times in training. It’s a great feeling to know you are in it together! One of my favorite programs to do with others is Squatober, which is the brainchild of Aaron Ausmus, owner of Pen and Paper Strength App. Thousands of people around the world commit to squatting in October, and finish with a strong PR day.
With my teams and programs on TrainHeroic, you can join a team doing the same training program as well. You each track your own numbers but you’re doing the work together. Check out this program, The Home Team, that you can do from your home. Invite your best friend or a coworker too, and start your free weeks together.
Here are all my programs, if you’d like to find the best plan for you.
Have you experienced the difference when you commit to a plan? Which is your favorite? Let me know! Happy training!
About the author
Kathryn Alexander is a strength coach and personal trainer in Austin, Texas. She loves hiking, college football, and the feel of a perfectly knurled barbell. Read more about Kathryn here.