It’s taken years of training myself and being responsible for the fitness of others for me to discover this simple nugget of golden knowledge: in order for any program to deliver results, there must be a specific purpose behind it. By that I mean that there must be a specific reason for training, and while that may seem obvious, the majority of people I see training don’t train smart.
The need for specificity is most apparent when training elite athletes. Earlier in the year, while working with a NFL Combine group, there were a set number of weeks where my training staff had to work with these athletes. While general athleticism was always a factor, the position of each individual player, as well as their strengths and weaknesses, dictated the program.
For many it was to shave a tenth of a second off of their 40-yard dash. This was their purpose, and it was essential to having a successful Pro-Day. Having that specific goal was vital to creating a training program to deliver results. The whole program layout was constructed with one goal in mind — get the athlete as fast and powerful as possible. Without purpose, a training program has no way of being effective. There will be no measure of progress, or method behind the exercise selections, volume of exercise, or progressions.
Over the course of our lives, athlete or not, a lot of us have specific events that we train for. Many friends and colleagues of mine have been doing marathon or endurance races. Clearly there is a different protocol in training to run 26.2 miles versus sprinting 40-yards. One requires muscular endurance, proficient cardiopulmonary function, and an efficient running gait. The other is a display of pure, athletic power. It makes perfect sense that the training for each is completely different. But without that purpose before the training begins, the end result will suffer.
It doesn’t always have to be a specific athletic event that dictates our training plan. For many, general health and a well-rounded fitness level is the goal.
We want to be balanced, display no only strength, but also power, flexibility and an adequate level of conditioning.
It goes without saying that we all want to look good while doing so. It may not seem like it, but that is a specific purpose as well.
A common mistake that many people fall into is neglecting multiple aspects of what it takes to be well-rounded in their fitness. Going for a two mile run three days a week neglects muscular strength and stability, and just lifting weights for mirror muscles Monday through Friday leaves conditioning levels untouched. There should be a component of all key elements of fitness in every program to some extent. This is the main reason so many people get frustrated with exercise. They train and train and train, but never see the results they are looking for. The reason? Lack of training purpose.
Here is what must be done first in order to optimize your fitness levels; choose a training objective that you want to commit to for at least a few months, if not more. If there is an endurance run coming up you want to participate in, make that your goal. If being in the best, all around shape you can be in, is your goal, make sure you follow a program that encompasses all aspects. Just know that each goal requires a distinct training protocol.
It took me a long time to get to the point where I had the knowledge and experience to create effective workout programs for specific goals. There is a science behind it, most apparent when working with athletes. While it isn’t as precise and painstaking to write a program for your average Joe, it is still more effective with a specific purpose.
So, if you want to take your training seriously, and get to that next level in your fitness, figure out your desired goal and follow an exercise program suited for that purpose!