So what is the best workout program around?
I hear this question all the time. Everyone wants to know what the magical formula is to get your body to grow big and strong. Fitness magazine covers are filled with “get-big-quick” workout schemes. And much like get-rich-quick money schemes, they are big on promises and small on results. Try this experiment….walk by the magazine stand once a month and check out the different fitness magazines and write down the headlines that are on the cover pages. Do this on a monthly basis for a year. At the end of that year I’m sure you’ll find over 50 ways to get six pack abs in 2 weeks, to gain 2 inches on your biceps in the next month or get ripped and shredded in 10 days. Who buys this stuff?
So what’s the best workout program out of the thousands they try to promote every year? The answer to that is simple: there is no one best workout program. Sorry P90X. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is lying to you.
But there are characteristics that you can look for in a workout program that will make it a successful workout program for you and that’s what I’m here to talk about. In my experience I’ve found 5 factors which will make for a successful workout program.
1. Help you achieve your goal
Ok, this kind of sounds silly but let me explain. If you’re looking to gain mass, what’s good about a workout program that will help you with aerobic endurance? If you want to go on a trip to Hawaii, how good would it be to get on a plane headed to New York?
This is the most basic characteristic of any workout program: it must help you get the results you are looking for. If you’re looking for mass, it must help build lean muscle mass. If you’re looking to get lean, it must help you shed fat. If you’re looking for increased flexibility it must help with that. So the first thing you need to do is list the goals you are trying to achieve and make sure your workout program will help you achieve those goals.
2. Have measurable results
So you got on that plane to Hawaii, how do you know you’re getting close to Hawaii and not Mexico? You need to have measurable results along the way to make sure you are on track to your goal and to keep you motivated.
The same goes with a successful workout program. How do you know you’ve gotten stronger, leaner, more flexible, etc? If you’re trying to increase your strength, do you see that you’ve lifted more weights this session than last session? Do you see progress to the goal you have set for yourself? If you don’t, you’re just wasting your time with the program. Unfortunately this characteristic is usually missing from most people’s workouts. I see it all the time in the gym and I’m sure you have too. It’s those people who come in, day in and day out, and do the same routine over and over and their bodies never change. What’s up with that? That’s a lot of time spent working out for no results!! It’s time to get off that plane and find another one heading to the destination that you want.
3. Progressive increase the intensity
We’ve said it a thousand times already on this site and we’ll say it again: Your body adapts because it is subjected to increasing levels of intensity. It has to. If you give your body a stimulus that crosses the threshold of what it is used to, it adapts to that stimulus so it can perform the exercise better next time around. That’s what our bodies are programmed to do. If the intensity levels don’t change, your body will not adapt. It has no reason to. So any successful workout program must meet this characteristic or the progress will be cut short. Any program that keeps the intensity constant over time will eventually plateau out.
4. Minimize the chance of injury
Sometimes people don’t think about this but minimizing the chance of injury is absolutely crucial to a successful workout program. Why? Well, if you’re injured you can’t work out!!! And all those gains you made will slowly go away. That’s kind of counterproductive, isn’t it? So if you’re doing a workout program that requires you to do full depth squats or jumping lunges with weights or bounce the bar off your chest during bench presses or some other crazy dynamic motion, be careful. This is where injury can happen.
Along with minimizing injury a successful workout program should allow for enough rest in order for the body to recuperate. If your body is pushed hard and not allowed to recover, you will suffer all kinds of ill effect which, just like an injury, will keep you out of the gym and hence move you away from your goal. Overtraining syndrome should not be minimized as it is a very real problem. Those 3 to 4 day a week weight training routines come to mind here.
5. Must allow for consistent training
This last characteristic that defines a successful workout program is one I’m sure all my fellow personal trainers will agree with me on. Being consistent is one of the most important qualities of a successful training program. I know if I can get any of my clients to perform any activity consistently, they will get good at it. Take up a hobby and practice nightly and you will be good at it in short order. Same goes with a weight training program. Do it consistently for an extended period of time and you will get results. However this means that the program must fit into the trainees’ lifestyle. Ask someone to do 8 hour workouts everyday like they do on the Biggest Loser and how many people you think will stay consistent with that? Of course if you workout for 8 hours a day you will get results but how long will you be able to keep that up? What is the most you can dedicate to a workout program to say with consistently? Remember, for the workout program to be successful it must work for the trainees’ lifestyle.
So those are the 5 characteristics that define a successful fitness program. Take a look at the program you are doing right now and see how it compares? Of course, what may work for you at one point in your life may not work later so it will be time to change programs. If your program checks all 5 boxes, congratulations, you’re on your way to your goal!!