Getting results in fitness requires some kind of plan and program.
The program is probably the most important part of the process because it provides the structure for your training.
There are tons of places to find programs. Some are free and some can be bought.
No matter what methods you choose, the most important part of the program is to follow it.
Arbitrarily doing whatever you want will not get you the specific results you may be looking for. Sometimes this is more enjoyable but progress becomes a crap shoot.
You might make some or none.
Following a well designed program from beginning to end is one of the best ways to accomplish training goals.
I will provide a series of questions that will help you make the decision on choosing a program.
1. Will you actually do it?
This is the most important question because if there is any hesitation, then the program is at risk.
If you are not crazy about benching, a program designed to increase the bench press probably is not the best one for you. It might seem like a good idea to improve the lift, but it won’t be sustainable if you do not enjoy it.
Choose one that includes exercises that you enjoy and accept that some part of it will not be the most fun thing in the world. We are still training here, some part of it will be uncomfortable.
This is also where the frequency of training comes into play.
If the program is 12 weeks long but you know there are some things that will interfere with its completion, hold off or make it a priority.
A program that cannot be completed in its entirety is going to produce unpredictable results.
The same goes for your everyday schedule. If you can only train 4 days/week then don’t do a program that is for 6 days and try to make it work. Find a 4 day program.
Training experience is another factor in the completion of the program.
Beginners cannot do advanced programs.
There are some powerlifting programs that are intended to make increases in highly trained individuals. These would not work well for beginners.
Beginners that have never done 1RM tests and percentage work would not have a lot of success in programs designed around that.
Experience pertains to exercises as well. You cannot do an Olympic lifting program if you cannot perform the clean & jerk and snatch. The same goes for kettlebells or anything else.
Take classes on these types of training if they seem interesting to you to learn the movements and determine if you like them.
2. Do you have the equipment for the program?
Complex programs do not do well in commercial gym settings. These gyms (for the most part) are not the best spaces for Olympic lifting, plyos, sprinting, or anything that needs space.
You cannot force a program on a gym that cannot support it.
This happens a lot with box jumps in particular. Everyone wants to do box jumps, but if they can’t be done safely without a box.
When we try to force these things, the risk of injury starts to outweigh the benefits.
3. Is the program going to get you closer to your goals?
Sometimes we need to step back and think about our strategies.
When we take on a program it should be specific to what we want to accomplish.
A program can be designed for almost anything.
Someone has created a program for anything that you want to get better at.
Don’t enroll in a bootcamp if you want to gain strength, don’t do a squat specialization in order to lose fat, and avoid resistance training (and results) if all you care about is moving nonstop for an hour.
Make sure the program is designed to what you want to accomplish and do not just do it for the hell of it.
Following these steps will easily help you get on track for your goals.
Find a program that is specific to your goals, do it all the way through, and then enjoy the progress that you will experience.