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The Importance of Programming


Do you find yourself mindlessly walking around the gym until you decide which piece of equipment you feel like using?
Having a plan creates purpose.  It creates consistency; and it creates a source of accountability.

While there are many ways to effectively manipulate your programming- they need to execute the fundamental principals: OVERLOAD, RECOVERY, SPECIFICITY, REVERSIBILITY, PERIODISATION.

only by asking your body to do more than usual will you trigger adaptation. This means that you need to apply an overload to either your muscles or cardiovascular system. Only by asking your body to do more than usual will you trigger adaptation. This means that, over time, your workouts must increase in difficulty, intensity or duration. Your body is only as fit as your last workout. To become fitter and/or stronger, work a little bit harder from one workout week to the next.

While overload is vital for triggering an adaptive response within your body, overload without recovery can result in a reduction in fitness. Exercise causes the breakdown of tissue in your body. When you rest, eat and sleep, your body goes through a rebuilding phase called anabolism. Anabolism occurs during breaks between overload. Training too hard and too often means that your body is rarely anabolic. To avoid this, do not train at the same intensity each day throughout the week and also take periodic recovery weeks when both training intensity and volume are reduced


Your body is a remarkably adaptive organism and providing there is sufficient overload and recovery, will adapt to any form of exercise stress it is exposed to. However, the adaptations your body will make are specific to the types of exercise stress to which it is exposed. However, some fitness attributes are diametrically opposite. Combining two different types of training sends opposing messages and, as such, your body will find it difficult to adapt to either stress. This can effect the results you experience from your training.


Unfortunately, you cannot store fitness. If you take a prolonged break from your regular workouts, your body will begin to revert to its pre- trained state. A short break of a week or so will have negligible effect on your fitness but longer breaks will result in a steady decline in both strength and cardiovascular fitness. To maintain fitness levels overtime, you must be consistent in your training efforts.


Periodisation describes the need to make a long-term fitness plan if you want to work toward fitness- related goals. A periodised plan will include periods of high intensity and high volume training but also incorporate periods of rest and recovery. This pattern in your workouts will make over training less likely.

So if your coming into the gym each session and just doing whatever you feel like doing, or `mixing it up`every single time you train, then your body has nothing to adapt to, it has no reason to progress and grow. Sure you might have some small increases in muscle and you might get a little stronger, but your `gains` will be limited. Many people underestimate the necessity of good programming, but in my opinion it is essential. If you want to achieve a specific goal, why would you want to spend half of your session procrastinating and trying to decide what exercise to do, what rep range to work in, and how many reps to do?

Training progression works by a process of stress-recovery-adaptation. We introduce the stress, we recover, and we come back stronger again and again.  Invest in a program specific to you; and most importantly, STICK TO THE PLAN!


Author: Craig Gibson