Finding the right program for your physique goals can be overwhelming.
Living in the Information Age can be challenging when it comes to choosing the right training program for your goals.
The abundance of fitness literature, programs, and coaches in the market can leave even the most enthusiastic buyer frustrated with their efforts.
The goal of this article is to help clarify what you need to look as you’re choosing the right training program for your goals.
When you come across a training program that catches your eye, there’s a few core principles that you can use to identify whether or not it will help you reach your goals.
Identify the focus of the training program.
When you look at a potential training program, the benefits that you receive should be clearly outlined and easy to understand.
The problem that occurs is when training programs start to promote multiple benefits without a clear focus on one training goal.
Although it seems nice to be able to drop fat, build muscle, and simultaneously improve your performance ALL at the same time, these benefits tend to wear over quickly once you pass the beginner stage.
There needs to be a tangible goal that the training program focuses on with a specific goal building on top of each other in concurrent training cycles.
Don’t be fooled by training programs that promote every benefit imaginable in your mind.
Another good way to think of this is to think of martial art schools in the world.
Many times, you’ll see schools that promote karate, jiu-jitsu, kung fu, and muay thai in one big group of classes.
While that’s appealing to the general onlooker who has a variety of options to choose from, the truth is many of these schools aren’t true experts in any one field of expertise.
Instead you come across two groups of people who tend to show up in different industries in our world:
The dabblers are the people who promote multiple options without any true expertise in a chosen field.
The experts are those who have chosen to dive deep within their chosen field and become recognized for the consistent good work that they produce.
Why is this important to recognize when it comes to choosing the right training program?
Because without a proper understanding of human behavior we can get confused by schools, programs, coaches who promote a multitude of benefits without true expertise in one specific field.
This isn’t saying that having a broad knowledge of multiple disciplines is NOT a good option.
However when you need to go for a brain surgery, would you go to a general medical practitioner?
Or would you go to the expert in brain physiology and trust that your life is safe in the hands of an expert?
The point of this principle isn’t to demote training programs in general or the efforts that many people have done to help improve our fitness and health.
The purpose is to demonstrate the difference between vague programs and handcrafted expert solutions.
Choose a custom solution.
Building off of Principle 1, we can now see that choosing a generic option or the dabbler forte will not bring you the results that you’re seeking.
Rather it takes an expert plan with a custom-designed solution to help guide you towards your goals.
In order to do this you have two options:
1. Hire a mentor/coach who can craft this solution for you.
This can be likened to the mechanic analogy when you bring your car to the shop to optimize its performance. You give your car (your body) to the expert who will take responsibility for crafting the best custom-made solution for your goals.
2. You learn how to customize your program using sound principles based on science.
Similar to the DIY solution car fixes, you can take a hard look at your car (body) and begin to craft a solution that is custom for your goals.
Either way, both of these options require careful planning and thought into your training program.
Without both of these qualities, the slide back down into generic options begins to emerge.
Assuming you choose to pick option two and go with a do-it-yourself solution, you’ll need to keep a sharp eye when you go program hunting.
Checklists are an effective way to organize ideas without losing track of key components.
With this in mind, you can use this simple checklist to guide you in your training program choices:
- What happens after this program? (how can you continue to progress after the program, what options are available?)
- How long is the program? (total duration, training frequency, etc.)
- What kind of equipment do you need for this program? (dumbbells, barbells, sleds, benches, etc.)
- How can you track your progress? (Excel Sheets, Google Sheets, training App, etc.)
- What is the goal of the program? (what specific benefits and outcomes are promised as a result of going through the program?)
- Who created this program? (what's their level of expertise and knowledge?)
- Is there a systematized approach to progression? (is there a way to progress in different training variables - sets, reps, intensity, tempo, etc.)
- Can you make adjustments to the program? (exercise modifications, training volume, intensity levels, etc.)
- Is this program recommended? (do other users, professionals, peers recommend this program for others?)
- What attracted you to this program? (what brought your attention to this program - was it the founder, attractive marketing, reputation, etc.?)
The goal of questions is to help reveal the answers that you need by going directly to the source.
There’s an infinite variety of ways you could adapt the questions above to make this list more personal and adapted to your program-hunting search.
However the main takeaway is regardless whether you use the questions above or your own set of questions, curiosity must be at the heart of your questioning.
Having an inquisitive mind, open to discovery and eager to learn, can help you pick better programs which lead to better results but also helps expand your mind to new ideas which can further enhance your training experience.
A good example is if you’ve never tried strength training and only used group fitness classes as the main source of exercise.
Being curious about strength training can lead to an investigation into what strength training is all about and what exactly it can do for your life.
As you learn and inquire more about strength training, you can begin to see the multitude of benefits within this particular style of training.
This in turn helps to further fuel your curiosity and desire to learn more.
Can you see how curiosity can spark real transformation?
Using this framework you can begin to think like a professional.
By using questions as your guide, you’ll also be able to choose more effective training programs and get better results without feeling overwhelmed or confused.
Remember to take the time to reflect, question, and look closely at your choices.
Doing this will grant you the freedom to make better decisions and equally important, develop into a better human being.
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References and Further Reading