You may have typed "Do I need to follow a training program?" into the Google search bar. A million different opinions pop up. Yes, you do. No, you don't. Well, maybe you should.
There is a short answer and a long answer to this question. The short answer is yes, you should. The long answer is you can get away without one until you hit a plateau, or you develop specific goals. If you're just starting to workout, chances are you can shed some pounds, accomplish your goal of moving more, and get a little stronger without following a set training program. Cherry picking videos off of YouTube works just fine as a place to start. Pick workouts you enjoy so that you actually complete them. You are doing more than you were before, and that is what matters when you first start out. When you've noticed a plateau, or you develop more specific goals, then it is time to get on a training program. Here are a few reasons you may want to follow a training program:
1) A program is designed to lead you toward a certain goal.
Whether your goal is to gain muscle mass, lose weight, or become an elite powerlifter, there is a program out there for you. Personal trainers build programs with all different elements included in them. A program could be full exercise videos you follow along to. A program could be a written workout that has exercise tutorials attached to it. It could also be a simple spreadsheet that has a list of exercises with reps and sets prescribed. You can find something that absolutely spells everything out, or is just a bare bones program.
2) Programs provide structure.
Because you have a certain goal in mind, a training program will provide you the structure you need to achieve that goal. With prescribed reps and sets, programs will push you to lift more than you are used to, using a concept called progressive overload. This just means you are increasing the weight, number of reps, or number of sets within your workouts. Progressive overload is what allows you to make progress while completing a training program.
3) There is no guess work.
With a program, you don't have to walk into the gym and figure out what you are doing for your workout. There is no "I guess I'll do this," or "Maybe I'll squat today." You get to the gym, look at your program, and do what it says. Simple. This is a benefit for those who don't know how to structure their own workout, or are unsure how any reps/sets should be completed in order to reach certain goals. Having a set program will help you avoid overtraining and undertraining. Following what the program has prescribed puts you right in the sweet spot, which is where goals are accomplished.
4) You can track your progress easily.
Often, workout plans have clients following the same or similar exercises for a period of time. This is called a cycle. When I write workout plans, I write them in six week cycles. The client performs the same exercises for six weeks before switching it up. This may sound boring, but by performing the same exercises every week, you can tell if you're getting stronger or not. Maybe you started with 15 pounds to complete bicep curls, but by the end of the six weeks you are using 20 pounds. Some workout plans will come with a printable template where you can track your weight, or a space to track weight will be included in the program's spreadsheet. A good 'ol fashion pen and paper is an easy to track as well. Dedicate a notebook to your training program, and store it in your gym bag or in your workout room so it is always handy!
5) Training programs cater to your schedule.
With the millions of training programs out there, you can easily find one that fits your schedule. Whether you workout three days a week, or six days a week, or you have 30 minutes, or two hours to spend in the gym, someone out there has written a program that will fit perfectly into your schedule. It is important to choose a program that will fit into your schedule so that you actually follow through with completing the program. If you pick a program that requires an hour and a half in the gym, but you only have 45 minutes, you will be setting yourself up for failure, and you will be disappointed when you don't follow through with it. The key to program completion is finding something that is doable for you.
6) Consistency is required when completing a training program.
This may be the most challenging part of following a training program, but it is also the most rewarding. The program calls for you to workout a certain number of days per week, and each workout requires a certain amount of time. In order to achieve the results you want, you will have to complete the program how it is written. This requires a lot of discipline. I think this is one of the biggest benefits of training programs. You really have to show up for yourself and put in the work to get the best results from the program. Plan when your workouts will take place, and block off that time in your calendar. If you nail this element, you are good to go!
Whether you've hit a plateau or you have specific goals, a training program is a great way for you to get the results you want. Programs provide the structure you need to accomplish your goals in the gym. The best part about a training program is that they take out the guesswork. You can track your progress very easily, and find a program that caters to your schedule. Consistency is built through a training program, which makes it easier to attain your goals.
Maiden Resistance offers two online programs, along with our in-person classes. Rookie Maiden is a 12 week beginner program and is meant for those who need an introduction to lifting weights. Skilled Maiden is a program for intermediate lifters and is written in cycles. Each cycle has a different focus. Both programs have four workouts per week, require minimal equipment, and come with exercise tutorials. If you feel as though these programs would not work for you, reach out! I'd love to help you find the right fit.
To you, my Maiden Friend!
- Coach CoJo