Four Fitness Rules to Live By
1) Have Fun
A mediocre training plan done consistently trumps a perfect training plan done infrequently. This was one of the hardest concepts for me to grasp as a young personal trainer and strength coach. With all of the knowledge and experience we gain, we often want to use all of the evidence of research and advice of more experienced individuals to put together the most meticulous, well thought out, perfect training plan. Almost any experienced coach or trainer will agree that repeatedly showing up is the most important variable in achieving long term, sustainable progress. If trainers forget the importance of a client enjoying their training plan, they miss a fundamental principle. The program must be enjoyed enough or looked forward to enough that the individual keeps showing up. Good programming incorporates best evidence based practices, but also takes into consideration client likes and dislikes. We also try to constantly educate our clients so they understand the reasons for everything that we are asking them to do.
2) Don’t Get Hurt
The number one priority of any training program should be to not get hurt. This should be more important than any of your other goals. A solid fitness program should help you move better, feel better, look better, and perform better. All of those things are hard to achieve if you are injured. As mentioned in Rule 1 (Have Fun), consistency is the most important ingredient for long term success. If you are injured, you have to either modify your training program or worse, stop training. A serious injury can also increase the fear or training and make us less likely to return, and therefore more likely to incur the same injury in the future. Training should always be viewed on a risk/reward basis. What is the best outcome (reward) from a given exercise, plan, or protocol? What is the worst thing that could possibly happen (risk)? If the reward doesn’t significantly outweigh the risk, then it shouldn’t be in your plan. For example, if we look at the Snatch; the potential rewards would be increased full body power production, mobility, stability, and better muscle pulsing. The risks range from more minor overuse injuries, such as patellofemoral (knee) pain syndrome and shoulder impingement pain, to rotator cuff tears, shoulder dislocations, or even concussion or bone breaks if the bar falls with enough weight on it. Again, we need to ask not only is the risk worth the reward, but is there another exercise that can offer similar reward with less risk? If so, then that should be the exercise you choose.
3) Set Goals and Track Progress
Sticking with the theme of staying consistent, one of the most common reasons I hear for people quitting a fitness program is lack of results. In order to measure or track results, we must have a few things in place. First, we want to have an assessment at the beginning of the program so we have objective numbers to compare against. These assessments should be relevant to your goals. At Fenton Fitness, we use the Functional Movement Screen, body fat percentage, waist circumference, resting heart rate, blood pressure, grip strength, sitting rising test, and vertical jump. We then move on to additional assessments. Once we have baseline numbers, we want to set our goals. We want our goals to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Realistic (SMART), and to have a time table. With clear starting point numbers and SMART goals in place, we can then map out a plan to get us from point A to point B. We then want to re-assess every 1-6 months to gauge progress and adjust our plan accordingly. Having something to train for and having clear progress indicators is essential for helping individuals see their success and failures, so we know if what we are doing needs to be adjusted. Tracking this type of data long term can also be a great way to show long term progress, since progress is rarely linear.
4) KISS Principle
The KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) is something that should be at the forefront of our training. There are thousands of exercises, programs, books, magazines, philosophies, etc. when it comes to training. It can be very easy to overcomplicate our training and make it more stressful and confusing than it needs to be. Too many choices in exercise can paralyze us. Most sales/marketing experts will tell you to give a client 2-3 choices. The best progress is often made on simple routines that are progressed in weight, sets, and reps over time. Most of our clients progress best on a full body training routine performed 2-4 days per week. You can use this same template. Pick one exercise for each movement pattern and progress it over the course of 6 weeks. If at the end of 6 weeks you can’t progress any further (with more weight, sets, or reps), or you are bored, simply switch in a different exercise. If you still feel like you have room to progress, continue the same program for another 6 weeks. We start most exercises with 2-3 sets of 6-8 reps, and will work our way up to 4-5 sets of 10-12 reps before increasing weight and dropping the sets and reps back down. This simple template also makes it much easier to track progress over the long haul.
A Day Plan:
Vertical/High Angles Pull
Step Up Pattern
B Day Plan:
Split Squat/Lunge Pattern
Core-Anti Lateral Flexion OR Anti-rotation
Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CSFC, Pn1