A simple guide to making a Program

Stuck in a fitness rut?

Not hitting the goals that you want to achieve?

Feeling like you have slipped back after that initial burst of progress that happened when you first started training?

Never fear, you are not alone.

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It’s actually a pretty common theme for most people, once they get through that initial 3-6 month honeymoon period where despite the aching muscles they actually feel like they make a lot of progress, they have more energy, start to see changes in the mirror, feel stronger, fitter, happier and then for some reason that progress just grinds to a halt.So what can we do to avoid this and help ourselves to continue the march to getting those 10 Muscle-Ups, that 30 second Freestanding Handstand, that 10 second Backlever? How do we make sure we still get our goals?

So what can we do to avoid this and help ourselves to continue the march to getting those 10 Muscle-Ups, that 30 second Freestanding Handstand, that 10 second Backlever? How do we make sure we still get our goals?

We need to have a program.

Having a program is more than just having a list of exercises to blindly follow. A program helps us cement our goals into place. It gives us routine and a guiding system that allows us to break down our goals into achievable milestones. It enables us to analyse a movement, to break it down into pieces – what muscles need to become stronger to achieve, more flexible, to have a greater ROM (Range of Motion). It keeps us on track when we start to drift or the motivation wanes.

A program will also allow you to try out different methods and see what works for you.

All of this is well and good, however if you aren’t a fitness professional or you have never created a Program then where do you start?

Well there’s two paths you can go down here:

  1. you get a qualified professional to provide you with a program which you pay for or
  2. if you are prepared to put in a bit of work then you can create your own program. If that is the route you are interested in going down then here is a guide to what to consider in creating your own program

1. Goal Setting.

Write down 1-5 realistic short term goals, bearing in mind that when I say short term goals i’m talking about goals that could be anywhere from 3-12 months.

Bear in mind If you have too many goals then you will struggle to achieve any of them, hence why I suggest no more than 5. Also if you do choose 5 then expect to your progress to take longer than if you were to choose just one.

Once you know exactly what those 1-5 goals are then we have a place to begin creating our program.

2. Allocate Time!

How many days are you going to exercise and how much given time are you going to allocate to each session.

Please note if you do attend classes, train with other people or have other sporting commitments then those activities may not be able to work in with your goals generally but they will give you variety and keep things from being stale.

If your goals are aligned to the classes that you attend you will continue to learn and develop with them but be warned that potentially you could have that dreaded crossover where you have done weighted chin-ups one day to find that the class the next day is doing the very same thing!

3. Break down your goals!

Work out what the strength and mobility requirements are for each goal and then what the appropriate exercises are that we need to work on in order to achieve them.

These exercises need to be appropriate for your starting point, not somebody else so this will take some research and also a bit of trial and error when programming.

4. Maintenance exercises!

Regardless of what your goals are, there will be certain exercises that you will need to continue doing in order to maintain them.

Just because you wish to do Muscle-Ups, Front Levers and a Handstand doesn’t mean that you should just forget about maintaining that great Deadlift that you have worked so hard to achieve.

5. Scaling, deloading, rest and recovery!

Albert Einsteins definition of Insanity was “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. This is true of our bodies your program should be scaled over a period of time to allow your body to adapt, become stronger, more flexible and fitter.

Scaling means here say that if we were using a 5 week program as an example, Week 1 will be less loaded or strenuous that Week 4, as we are increasing the intensity as we progress through the program. Whether that means that we are adding weight or increasing sets and reps or both is up to you.

Of course what goes up must come down, as we increase the intensity we must also bring it down so Week 5 would be a deload week. What this means is that we would still exercise but we would greatly decrease our load and intensity, think 50% of what you you did in week 4.
You get stronger when you rest, neglect rest at your peril.

6. Putting it all together!

So now that we know all of the things below

  • Goals
  • No. of training sessions per week
  • Strength and mobilityexercises
  • Maintenance exercises
  • Deload,rest and recovery

We can put together our program, be warned this may take a few times to get it right and often once you have been through the first cycle or weeks of your program you may need to adjust certain things. Consider this fine-tuning.

If you are at this point and you are still stuck then I would suggest speaking to a professional and either paying for a program or seeing if they can have a quick look/discussion about programming (think 15 minutes – remember this is their livelihood) as they may be able to point you in the direction you need.

Thanks
Jason
Calisthenics Coach

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