“Conan, what is most important in training?” I think Arnold would put his sword aside, take a deep look into your eyes and answer with: “Sustainability!” Not very exciting, right? Perhaps it helps if you play the Conan soundtrack while reading this. But still, the ability to work out week after week, month over month, year after year without having to pause or suffering any set backs, is of great importance. It allows you to build constant forward momentum and this is where the magic happens. So, how do you achieve this?
A good training plan is a piece oft art, even though most of the time it doesn’t look like it: they are often quite simple. But to achieve this simplicity, many factors have to be considered:
- How often do you want to train? Or even better: how often are you ABLE to train? Do you actually have time for this? Can you recover from one workout to the next? Does your social life suffer from it? Do some muscles need more or less training than others?
- How much work do you have to do? Training volume is suspected to be the key driver of hypertrophy, but more isn’t always more: doing extra volume suffers from diminishing returns while at the same time increasing fatique.
- How hard do you have to train? Are you better off staying away from failure or do you go “all in”? There are advantages and disadvantages to both!
- What exercises do you choose? Does the exercise actually target the muscle you want to train? Are you able to use your full range of motion? Does your body respond well to it, or are you often injured after your workout?
- How many different exercises per muscle do you need? Is it sufficient to hammer your hamstrings with Romanian Deadlifts or do you need more variation? If so, how much is enough and is there a point of too much variation?
- Are you competing in any kind of sport? Do you need certain exercises for this sport or are you completely free to choose?
As you can clearly see, there are a lot of question marks and this is by no means a complete list. Many things have to be considered, but not obsessed by.
Remember your goal: putting in hard work over many, many years while feeling happy doing so. Yes, you should enjoy this! This is an underrated aspect of programing, but probably one of the most important for sustainability.
You have to build good habits, a healthy mindset and improve your “training skill”. This takes time and patience. As always, there are no magic tricks or fancy exercises that offer you a quick fix. Nothing worth having comes over night!
Do you feel overwhelmed by the endless possibilities? Let me help you and apply here! Or let me know in the comment section how your current training plan looks like and if your are happy with it.