The importance of a structured training programme

6 September 2017
Posted by Lewis Visick

Anyone who is trying progress and achieve fitness related goals whether they are a beginner, intermediate or advanced in their fitness journey, should have a well structured, periodised training programme. Whether you need a Personal Trainer to write you a programme or you are knowledgable enough to write you're own, consistently developed and progressive workout programmes should be a staple in your training life.

In the initial stage, a training programme will highlight -

  • A goal or set of goals - which build the foundation of a training programme, the direction it takes and what you want to achieve
  • Areas of weakness to be addressed - many people focus on their strengths, but focusing on weak areas is when most overall development will happen, and all-round better gains produced
  • Commitment - time which will need to be dedicated to the programme in order to achieve set goals - this will also effect how the programme is constructed and its effectiveness

Having a structured programme is not just about showing you what exercises are next and how many reps or sets you need to do. It shows you where you currently are, where you are headed and how you are going to get there. A well written programme should include a log, in which progress can be noted each session, i.e. the load being added over time, the reps achieved or time taken to complete an exercise. This way you can see where progress is being made and where there needs to be improvement – thus being able to directly address your weak areas.

Motivation is greatly improved when a programme has clear goals defined and a set path to get there. Seeing the progression clearly laid out in a table or chart will also assist with a person's drive to continue with the plan and promote longevity in their training. Many people do train without any kind of programme and still improve, but eventually find themselves plateauing and losing motivation, and very few will actually reach their full potential.

Not having a workout plan can de-motivate a person very quickly and often cause them to stop training all together. It becomes very difficult to assess progress, to see plateaus and dips in your training, therefore it is very hard to target and address weak areas and training will cease to progress.

A training programme will also help prevent over or under training, which effects everyone at some point in there fitness journey.

Under training is caused when a person does not have enough stimulus in their training in order for the body to grow and adapt, for example - Not having progressive overload i.e. adding weight over time, not increasing the intensity as their body gets stronger and fitter, or simply not training often enough to get a regular stimulus and therefore plateau. A well written plan should take into account your current abilities, for example - strength, endurance and flexibility and constructed with incremental improvements to load, intensity, duration and volume over time.

Over training is very common and is one of the main culprits of injuries. This happens when an athlete does not have sufficient rest between workouts and trains the same area of their body before it has fully recovered. A programme prevents this from happening as recovery periods are taken into account and set appropriately to the intensity of each workout.

People often ask if they can train everyday and to be honest the answer is both yes and no. Now, if you are a person who is having to ask that question then I would say definitely not to workout everyday. The reason being, as you train more and more you gain an understanding of how quickly your body recovers and when you can once again work the same muscle groups. So if you have to ask the question then you clearly don't have the experience to correctly build a safe programme which takes all these factors into account and may end up injuring yourself.

On the other hand if you are experienced enough to or have an experienced personal trainer to write you a programme and guide you along the way, then yes you can train everyday. An athlete who trains everyday is able to listen to their bodies and understand/ feel when they are capable to train certain body parts again and know when it's time to rest and recover. You will also have to factor in your sleep quality, as this is when you body builds and recovers and having quality, nutritional food which correspond to your goals – this is going to fuel your muscles and develop them, ready for the next workout.

A very important area which any good training programme should take into account is the General Adaption Syndrome or (G.A.S) for short! The human body is quite incredible, it learns new movements and adapts to new stimulus very quickly. General Adaption Syndrome says that approximately four to five weeks into a training programme the body will become adapted to the stimulus you have given it and will begin to plateau. This is where a decent periodised programme should be progressing with various changes in it's structure, for example - new exercises, varying the rep and set ranges, differing intensities and rest periods. As your body adapts very quickly to new stimulus, it's important to always be changing up what or how you are training in order to continuously improve and progress.

Having a structured periodised training programme is key to success whether your looking at building muscle, losing fat, gaining strength, improving aerobic fitness or any other goal you may have. It will help you to:

  • Have clear goals and a path to get there
  • Address weak areas in your training
  • Aid in motivation and longevity in your training
  • Help to avoid over training or under training
  • Shows rest times/ reps and sets – to get the most out of your workouts
  • To avoid General Adaption Syndrome and to always be progressing and developing

So what ever your goals maybe, I offer personalised training programmes which cater to your specific goals, body type and lifestyle to ensure the best possible outcome.

Lewis Visick

Personal Trainer - Bodyweight Fitness