Let’s say you have a goal…whatever is important to you. It could be losing 10 pounds, riding a 40k time trial under an hour, or squatting twice your bodyweight. Or it could be going on a backpacking trip with your family, building a shed, or getting your blood pressure under 120/80.
Let’s also say you are fairly serious about your goal. It’s something you really want to make happen. An athletic accomplishment is just like any work project or financial objective. It becomes much more achievable if you have a plan. No amount of wishing alone will be likely to get your goal accomplished. A number of famous people have been given credit for making the statement “hope is not a plan” and whoever said it, they were all correct. Hoping is passive, but planning is active.
If we keep our focus specifically in the health, fitness, and athletic realm…there are three ways to go about the behaviors that can potentially lead to your desired outcome. You can use the random approach, the set routine, or the dynamic, intelligent plan. I’ll highlight each of these individually.
The random approach to training can be useful on occasion, particularly as part of downtime or post-season recovery. But it’s not not the best way to achieve a goal. Yes, being very casual about your exercise and activity can be fun, spontaneous, and serendipitous. This is a nice mental break now and again. But over the long term, this type of training is not specific enough to cause the adaptations that most goals require. For folks who are just trying to get off the couch, get their activity up a bit, and count the wins, this is great. But it usually doesn’t lead to full potential in performance and can make a person susceptible to injury if they surprise their body with too many unfamiliar challenges.
The set routine also has its place. Doing the same thing for a while allows you to get very proficient with the movements and to wring out the max proficiency in a workout. But done for too long, any routine just becomes a rut. Boredom and staleness aside, this type of behavior usually leads to a capping out of potential and then, ironically, a long-term risk for injury. This is because any set routine can only train the body in one way, and if we neglect athletic balance for too long, the body can become stiff, weak, or lacking in an area that eventually leads to breakdown. You’ve probably known some people at the gym or out on the trails who always do exactly the same thing. They never really accomplish that much. In fact, they are fairly boring to be around. But there is a way to make this work. I have a lot of clients who really like having a routine that they can master and work with for a few weeks, but we change things up every 6-12 weeks in most cases.
Now we come to the PLAN. It’s like you saying THIS is what I’m going to accomplish and here’s HOW I’m going to do it. Powerful self-talk. This is why houses are built according to plans. That’s taking a vision through to completion. A random approach to homebuilding results in a crooked shack. A set routine ends up producing a row of boxes. But a dynamic, intelligent plan flexes and flows while it stays focused on the end goal. It cuts the mustard. Gits’r done.
A training plan simply defines intention and allows your program to fit you and your circumstances. It significantly increases the odds that your outcome will be achieved. That plan is dynamic in that it allows you to make small adjustments based on how you are feeling or unforeseen things that come up in your schedule. It’s intelligent because it meets you where you are now but takes you where you want to go by using sound and proven principles.
With our online training group, the Training Tribe, we use an Annual Training Plan (ATP). First, we recognize the 5 major components of human performance. They are strength, speed, power, endurance, and agility (which includes mobility, balance, reactivity, etc.). Then we divide the year into 5 blocks of 2-3 months each. This is a block periodization model. Each block addresses all 5 components simultaneously, but it emphasizes only one. Thus we have a strength block, a speed block, and so on. We concentrate on one capacity while not letting the others fall away. It’s a comprehensive and fun way to maintain high functionality for just about anyone. And at less than a buck a day, there are no barriers to entry. Daily workouts, online training sessions, health and fitness masterclasses, daily motivational emails, and a private forum help our members to stay with the PLAN and be ready for just about anything they want to do in life.
My coaching clients receive another level of this type of programming. We conduct tests and analyze their conditioning needs and performance abilities. We solve and correct chronic movement and injury problems. And then we design individualized programming that really, really works. 24-7 support and weekly video conferences are a big part of this system, as it emphasizes the coaching relationship between me and the athletes/clients with which I have the privilege to work.
No matter your goal, I’d like to suggest that you consider making a plan. You won’t be disappointed. If you are interested in having me help you with that plan, using either of the methods outlined above, just let me know. Good luck with your training!