Something I have been asked a lot recently and something which I am confident is a huge stumbling block for most people within sports and exercise is how to design an effective programme. An effective programme is important to ensure you can reach your goals this may be to lose weight, increase strength, develop muscle mass or even improve your performance in your specific sport or event. If your programme is not designed correctly you will struggle to achieve what you want from your training, you will also lose a lot of time in the process and potentially even set yourself back further than when you started. Designing an effective programme is a combination of a range of various factors. This piece will describe and explain the factors which I deem crucial to consider for your programme setting.
Points to consider
The first point which I will make is your programme is about you. That comment may have seemed obvious, but my point is be specific to you and your goals. A non-specific programme from my experience has been the cause of many dips in progression and lots of time wasted. Ensure when you are creating your training sessions everything you plan is appropriate to the most important thing… your end goal. You can be specific in many different ways within your sessions, make sure the type of exercise you do is in relation to your end goal for example if you are aiming to build muscle mass don’t run endless miles on the treadmill as this will burn a lot of calories and leave you in a deficit. Relating to an athlete ensure you are involving movement patterns which are specific to your sport for example a boxer would focus on a lot of rotational movement as well as improving explosive leg power. A boxer would not focus on acceleration mechanics as this is not appropriate to their sport. Another thing which may also cause someone to be less specific is their lack of knowledge in the field of practise their plan is based around.
Knowledge of the topic you are basing the plan around is crucial. Being knowledgeable within the area will drive a plan to be specific as you are aware of what exercises or training methods are relevant. An example may be an educated mind within sports exercise science would understand the value of sets and repetitions and how to differentiate them to drive a specific adaptation whether this be weight loss, strength or hypertrophy (muscle gain). If you know little on the practise which your plan is based around for example how to gain muscle mass, then the chances are your plan won’t be very effective and you won’t achieve your goals. However, there is one thing about knowledge and that is it can be easily gained in any area with some dedication, good research sources and persistency in engagement within in the topic. My advice would be educate yourself, ask questions to the right people and try to slowly build a plan, developing the plan as you broaden your knowledge. Also, by “educate yourself” I don’t mean read one Instagram post whilst your waiting for the kettle to boil I mean read research, engage in the topic and focus on what information you can take to apply to your end goal.
One more aspect which I think really makes an effective programme is being patient and understanding the art of progression. Rome was not built in a day, things take time, consistency and most of all… hard work. Understanding progression allows you to be realistic and ensures the mini goals and phases you set in your plan are achievable. When building your programme be mindful of how you can adapt it continuously to develop and grow, this may be progression of exercise selection, progression within intensity or volume of work or even progressing into different training methods to challenge yourself but remain specific. With steady progression it gives you time to develop in your practises, don’t rush into the programme head over heels as it becomes too much and you get injured or burnout. Individuals rushing into lots of volume and adding too much load too soon is often a leading cause of injuries and burnout so don’t make the same mistake, be patient and progress over time through calculated and specific training.
I hope this piece has explained some vital pieces of the jigsaw when creating an effective programme and you now have an idea of some points to keep in mind when designing your plan. The message to take from this article is simply make your plan specific to your end goal and don’t jump from one fad to the next, the thoughts and science behind the plan must be accurate and calculated to maximise results and be patient with your progress and have specific phases within the plan which all build towards achieving the long term goal.
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Be specific, be smart and be patient with your progression.
S&C Coach | Personal Trainer