Start here. The Best Fitness Program is...
The Best Fitness Program is... the program you are able to adhere to.
It is difficult to know what fitness training program to follow or how exactly you should be training when social media, magazines, and television are always promoting the "hottest" new fitness trend, the best workout app, and the top 10 fitness hacks to achieve the body you want.
At first, many of these trendy new programs will work and you may see results but over time most will fail. The primary reasons these one size fits all programs fail is;
There is a reason the professional strength coach or personal trainer costs more per hour of training then the collection of the best $1.99 fitness apps on your phone...
A professional strength and conditioning program is designed for YOU. It takes time, knowledge, and experience to create a high quality program.
There is no one size fits all training program but with some knowledge you can adapt almost any program to your needs or create your own.
Where Do You Start?
You don't need to be an Exercise Physiologist or Strength and Conditioning Specialist to know what training program you should be using, but you do need some basic understanding of training principles and most importantly you need to know WHAT you want to achieve from training and WHY you want it.
What is the outcome you want from your training program?
The reason most individuals who set fitness goals fail is because they are much too vague.
Goals such as...
"I want to tone up..."
"I want to get bigger..."
"I want to be healthier..."
You need to spend some time and really think about what your overlying desire to workout is and then get as specific as possible. Find a process that works for you to set, track, and achieve your goals. This process will vary based on the individual. You may not need to go through a formal process to define your S.M.A.R.T. goals, journal and track progress everyday day. You may be able to just brainstorm and set your intentions on your own. Others may need more accountability or social consequences in order to adhere to their goals.
Most importantly, you need to know the deep seeded reason behind your goals.
Most fitness goals stem from a few key principles.
Look better naked
Achieve the body you want
Feel comfortable with your physique
Attract the opposite sex
Improve health markers
Increase energy levels
slow down aging
Run faster or longer
Define Your Goal, Then Iterate & Iterate
Think about it in terms of an Olympic athlete, they know 4+ years out, that everything they do will either move them toward their goal or it will not. Almost every decision can be black or white and it doesn't come down to motivation it comes down to what you have a greater desire for. Will staying up late the night before training help or hurt your performance? Will eating that extra piece of cake move you closer towards getting abs?
This is a real life example of what it looks like to define your goal and iterate until you reveal the "why". The specifics in the example don't actually matter. What matters is the process of uncovering the real reason behind your fitness or health goal. Without knowing your true "why" it will be difficult to stick your goals. When you need to make those hard decisions knowing you "why" is the key to making the tough decisions.
What is your goal?...
I want to ton up...
To lose some weight and feel better...
I want to feel the confidence I had 5 years ago when I was in the best shape of my life and 12 pounds lighter...
I’m going on a vacation to Hawaii in 4 months with friends I haven't seen in years. I want to lose 10 pounds and reduce my body fat 2% in 4 months...
I want to fit into my hot new bikini and feel great about my health too!
The Goal Must Be Challenging But Have Reasonable Time Frame
The time frame can vary greatly depending on the individual and the desired outcome. If you have a goal in mind and you are not sure if it can be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time you should consult a professional.
Be weary of magazine headlines or workouts found online that promote results that seem to good to true. Many times these trendy workouts advertise results that may be attainable over a short period of time but they are not sustainable in the long term and can even be unsafe.
General Rules for Fat Loss and Muscle Gain
.5-1.5 pounds of fat loss per week.
Beginner 1.5 lbs per month
Intermediate: 1 lb per month
Advanced: .5 lbs per month
Performance Based Training Goals
Training for performance can be much more complex and will be based on achieving sport specific adaptations or personal performance goals such as...
Phases of Training
Acquire a general level of fitness
Master basic exercise technique
Improve muscular endurance and work capacity
2-4 weeks (microcycle)
Focus: Muscular Endurance/Hypertrophy
Start of a conventional fitness program or first phase of mesocycycle
Adapt to higher training volume
Keep intensity low (*intensity in these terms in defined as load or weight used)
Focus: Muscular Strength
Increase rest 2.5-5 min
Length: 2-4 weeks
Focus: Heavy Muscular Power
Progression to explosive or higher velocity movements
Very high intensity
Rest: 1.5-3 min
Length: 2 days-2 weeks (will vary based on program)
Focus: Active Recovery
Recover from previous program
Use active recovery techniques that will not stress the body enough to prevent recovery