I think we all understand that if you are wanting to see some great results in your training or work to achieve a specific goal, getting a programme is the way to go. So why is a programme crucial in helping us?
A good, well-structured programme will incorporate the principles of FITT. FITT stands for Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type. To get a better understanding of each principle here is an explanation of each.
- Frequency refers to how often you will exercise in a week, let’s say.
- Intensity refers to how hard you are working out. This can be determined in multiple of ways through the amount of weight you lifted, a percentage of your 1 repetition max (mainly used in movements such as squats and deadlifts), and through perceived effort, with the scientific name for this being Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), based on a scale between 1-10.
- Time refers to the duration of your workout.
- Type refers to specifying what exercises you do and how they relate to your overall goal.
Inclusion in all four of the FITT principles allows for us to achieve the overall principle that will get results in any form of the programme, and that is Progressive Overload. Progressive overload is when you gradually increase the weight, frequency, or number of repetitions in your weights training routine, but it is also relevant in cardiovascular training programmes. Keeping it simple, by achieving progressive overload in a programme you are keeping the body constantly working at new levels of performance every week/month etc. However I must make this known that the results will not happen overnight, it will take time and progress will be slow, but rest assured it is always progressing.
After explaining a few good things that come with a programme, why would I title this “A Program Is Just A Piece of Paper” and paint down the importance of them?
When it comes to it, a programme is just a bunch of exercises with figures/numbers mathematically worked out with a best case scenario in mind, and does not take into account the biggest inhibiting factor in our progression in the gym (to a certain extent)… Life. Day-to-day life is the biggest interchangeable factor we must deal with and at times cannot prepare for. At any moment, something can change that affects us. You may of had a stressful day at work, bad sleep, you’re feeling sick etc and then you come in to do a workout that is on your programme and find you cannot lift the weight that is suggested. You might find the past few weights you haven’t been able to improve, or in some cases see a decrease in the amount lifted. In this scenario, some people are quick to blame the programme.
Here is the problem I have with this. If you’re thinking this way about a programme, before you go ahead and blame whoever wrote the programme, take a look at yourself and your life first. Does your life at this point in time allow for you to make the right decisions in which you can maximise your performance? Sometimes your answer is yes, and sometimes it can come down to someone not knowing how to write a programme and tailor it individually to you. But I have seen most times that the programme didn’t work because you didn’t allow it to. So a little takeaway there from me, have a look at yourself and your choices before you blame the person who wrote your programme.
I see people when they get a programme and follow it religiously, which don’t get me wrong is amazing and as a Personal Trainer, when I have clients who are like that, it is great. But what I will always advertise is that a programme is just a guide to improvements. If you’re not feeling flash, then don’t exhaust yourself to hit the target that the programme has on it just because it is there. While you might think if you don’t follow it you won’t see results, you still will. Vice versa as well, if you have not been told to hold off on increasing the weights and you feel great on a certain day, then go ahead and increase the weights. A programme is a guide, remember it guides you but ultimately you have to take the wheel and get there.
So to sum everything up I leave you with this. A programme done well by a professional you trust and who understands you is the best way to get results, but at the end of the day a programme is just a piece of paper that gives you a clear guide to your improvements. You know once you take the wheel it is never a clear guide so don’t be afraid to slow down or go full pedal to the metal when appropriate, because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what it looks like on your way, as long you are following the general guide you will get there.