Things To Consider When Drawing Up A Fitness Program
The training program you create or use depends on your definition of peak physical fitness and your goals. For example, if you want to have great overall fitness then your training program might include strength, endurance, and mobility work. If you want to excel at one particular sport or activity then your training program will focus primarily on that skillset.
Each discipline has its own recommendations, and training programs are widely available for specialists. Let’s first talk about a generalist approach and then we can take a look at training programs for a single focus.
Training Programs for Generalists and Increased Overall Fitness
There are three primary components of well-rounded physical fitness; strength, mobility and endurance. It’s safe to argue that technique can play a role in overall fitness too. For example, there are drills and form improvements for just about any movement or exercise.
A training program that strives to create a well-rounded athlete might look something like this:
• Strength training two to three days a week
• Cardio/Endurance training two to three days a week
• One MetCon workout
• Mobility training once or twice a week
• One rest day
Your strength training efforts need to be varied. You don’t want to work on your upper body every single time you work out. You need to work on your legs and core too. Vary your workouts. Some days you may go for max effort and other days you might go for max load.
Some days you might combine cardio and strength into an intense MetCon (“metabolic conditioning”) workout. The previously mentioned “Fran” CrossFit benchmark is a good example of a MetCon workout. MetCon workouts are fast-paced, high-intensity workouts that are completed in a short period of time. They challenge your cardio capacity and burn fat. They’re quite similar to HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training, workouts.
As you can see, you’ll likely spend an hour or more a day working out. Don’t forget to include a warm up and a cool down to your exercise time. Your MetCon workout might only take ten minutes. However, in order to get your muscles to a point where they can perform at a high intensity level, you have to spend time warming them up.
You can do mobility work to cool down after your workout. The same for heavy lifting on strength days, you don’t want to go into a heavy lifting workout with cold muscles. Warm up.
This is the perfect time to talk about fitting your peak fitness training program into an already busy schedule. Here are a few tips:
1. Consider when you have the most energy. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Schedule your workouts to fit your rhythms. You’ll be more likely to follow through.
2. Give it a few weeks. It takes time to develop a habit. If you decide to get up an hour early to work out, it’s going to take a few weeks until your body and your mind adapt to the new habit. It will, be patient.
3. Reward yourself. Don’t skip a single workout, unless you’re sick or injured. If you skip one, it’s easier to skip two, and three, and so on. Remember that peak physical fitness requires determination and drive.
4. Take one rest day each week. Give your body time to rest, heal, and relax.
These four tips are relevant and important whether you’re a specialist or a generalist. Let’s take a look at training programs for specialists next.
Creating a Training Program for Specialists
It can be said that strength, endurance and mobility are all important for specialists too. For example, a runner needs to have mobility. They may also benefit by strengthening the muscles that support running including the glutes and core muscles.
For most specialists the focus will be training time. If you’re training for a 100 mile bike ride you train for it by putting miles on your legs and riding your bike a lot. If you’re training for a running event you train for it by running. If you want to be a competitive power lifter then you train for it by lifting, and so on. Your schedule will look something like this:
• Cross training – one day a week
• Specialty focus training – four days a week
• Mobility training/strength training – one day a week
• One rest day
For example, if you’re training for a marathon then one day a week you might go for a bike ride. Three days a week you might go for shorter runs, 5-10 miles. One long run each week, 10-18 miles, and one day of mobility training and/or speed work.
There are specialty training programs that you can find for just about any focus. If you have a niche that you’re wanting to improve on and achieve your peak fitness, look for a program that supports your goals and your current fitness level. For example, if you just started running you would look for a marathon training program for beginners.
A good training program doesn’t just focus on working out. It also focuses on nutrition, hydration, sleep and maintaining optimal health. Let’s talk about that because it’s vitally important. You simply cannot achieve peak physical fitness without taking care of your body.
Evaluating Your Progress – Testing and Tracking Your Fitness
It’s often difficult to know when you’ve achieved peak physical fitness. You might believe you’ve reached your goals only to find that you’re capable of more. It’s a fun quest to be sure. In addition to keeping a training journal, which might also include your nutrition information, consider using a few additional tools to test and track your fitness.
Competition pushes you to work your hardest. If you go out to run a 5k right now and you work hard at it you’ll get a good result. However, the adrenaline and drive that shows up during a race will likely produce an even better result. So competition is a great way to test your fitness. Annual competitions are also a good way to track progress over time. If you run the same 5k year after year then you know you’re getting fairly reliable results because the course is the same.
Benchmarks & Personal Records
You can also build in benchmark tests and track your personal records. For example, if you’ve been strength training for a month you test your progress by trying a max load workout. You test how much you can lift for a particular movement.
You retest that movement in another few months and track your improvement. If you’ve been sticking to your training schedule, you should see gradual improvements in your fitness. It’s a sure sign that you’re making strides toward peak physical fitness. As you’re creating your training program, plan and schedule benchmarks to test your fitness. Be sure to write down the results so you can view your progress over time.
Staying Committed to Your Peak Fitness Goals
Staying committed is your biggest challenge. Find a partner, publicly share your goals and your progress. Join a gym or hire a personal trainer. Do what you need to do to stay focused and motivated. When you strive to achieve peak physical fitness you belong to an elite club and it will change your life for the better.