We are all in search of the perfect training program. A plan that will yield tremendous results and propel us into a new category of size and strength. Day after day, we aim to follow the plan to the tee and with each week that passes, our hope is that we see progress first in strength and then in muscularity. The goal is always to improve, and every training session is geared towards forward momentum. There are those who say it really doesn’t matter what you do but rather how you do it.
This may hold some truth, but the devil will always be in the details and a suitable plan for you that lays out all of the exercises and intricacies of your sets, is important too. Once you find a program that works for you, how long do you stick with it? Every training program has a life cycle before the return on effort fizzles out and to help you identify this, here are the four stages you will go through with a training program right up to the point when it’s time to make a change.
Stage One: The Training Program Build
This initial stage could quite possibly be the most exciting of all the stages simply because of the anticipation of what could be. Every design is specifically constructed to build, to improve upon or to change something about your physique and your performance. The exercises you choose to include, the exercise sequencing of your workouts, the sets and reps schemes, the intensity boosting techniques you’ll utilize and all of the smaller details including stretching, therapy and rest are all there just waiting for you to use it and improve because of it. It’s an exciting time when the plan is finally put to paper; now it’s time to get to work.
Stage Two: The Experiment
Now that the plan is in place and you have a clear objective for each training session, it’s time to see if what you have prepared for yourself is actually going to work and elicit the type of response you have been hoping for. The only way you’re going to know if it is working is by sticking to it exactly the way you have it mapped out. Any variation to the plan will throw off the course of accumulating the necessary knowledge you need to evaluate the effectiveness, so just do it the way it’s been written.
There will be a time for reflection, but that time isn’t now. Do everything you have in the plan with precision, perfection and intensity and give it enough time to work. Time and consistency in this phase are key so work at being better within the plan with each week that passes and resist the urge to change.
Stage Three: Reflection and Assessment
Once you’ve given the training program enough time to work, it’s time to look back and reflect on everything you did and assess the program for its value to you. Did the exercises you chose to utilize provide you with great pumps, great mind to muscle connectivity and limit the amount of unwanted discomfort some exercises have given you in the past?
Were you able to see gains in strength where you wanted to see it? Could you recover quickly enough before engaging in the next session or was it too much for you? Did your excitement levels and motivation levels stay sky high with every day that passed, and did you always look forward to going to the gym? The answers to these questions will be the antecedent for what you must do next so make sure you retain this new knowledge for its use later.
Stage Four: The Rebuild
With experience comes knowledge and your experience with your training program would have given you enough information to work from that you can now rebuild a new plan for yourself moving forward. It’s really simple; take with you what worked and discard the rest, replacing it with new and more hopeful options. You’re not quite back to the old drawing board here because you have collected many useful ingredients for your success.
You’re just taking out the bad and replacing it with potential good and setting up to go through the process all over again. That’s what bodybuilding and weight training and the whole fitness lifestyle is all about. Trying something for awhile and then trying something else for awhile again. That’s the way it is so just be good with it.
If it were as easy as finding one training program and sticking with it forever, because it continues to provide you with gains, then wouldn’t this whole thing we’re doing be easy? Well, that’s not how it is and the nature of change and the necessity of change is what should be fun for you.
Yes, lifting weights and training hard is awesome, but experimenting and discovering how your body responds to new stimuli is also very exciting and for some, the most exciting.
The satisfaction you will find once you finally figure something out and see the results of it, is just as rewarding as seeing the number on the scale going up or down or breaking a strength plateau or seeing new muscle. It’s all one in the same and as long as you’re fine with knowing that you will go through the stages of a training program in cyclical fashion for the duration of your time in this sport, the better off you’ll be.
Author: Dana Bushell
Gym Star Team Member