How to design your own exercise program

Exercise should be included in every man’s lifestyle. And if you’ve got specific health goals an exercise program is essential. A well designed program can be the difference between going through the motions and pushing your body to a new physical condition. Follow these tips for program design to ensure you are getting the training outcomes you desire.

Set goals

It is important to start every program with a long-term goal. Make it specific, and make it relevant to you. This gives you something to work towards every session. Whether it is weight loss, muscle gain, or nailing a new personal best time for a race, your goal can be a huge motivation when you are pushing your body to its limits.

Intensity

Intensity is the single most important factor when it comes to exercise gains. I see so many guys go through hours of training a week, month after month, but never achieve the improvements they desire. This is because they never work at the intensity necessary to stimulate their body to improve.

This does not mean always training at maximum intensity. It means training at the appropriate intensity for the session. If you are lifting weights use a resistance and repetition number to elicit the desired outcomes. High resistance with low reps for strength and hypertrophy, low resistance and high reps for endurance.  For running, intervals should be done at a very high intensity, longer runs should be at a lower intensity.

Balance

When it comes to a training program, balance is so important. We have all seen guys who lift incredible weights on the bench press but have never stepped inside a squat rack. But balance means more than this.

There is balance between muscle groups, such as balancing anterior muscles such as the pecs, with posterior muscles such as the lats, and rhomboids. There is balance between high intensity intervals and lower intensity continuous exercise. There is also a balance between your resistance training and your aerobic training, which should be determined by your training goals. Your program should be balanced to ensure you are improving, while not overtraining one area and neglecting another.

Recovery

One important area of a training program that is often forgotten is recovery. On a larger scale, recovery means providing your body with enough time between training sessions to allow cells, fibres and organs to return to full capacity.

For resistance training, this usually means 48 hours between training the same muscle group. Recovery on a smaller scale refers to time between sets or intervals during a session. Again, this is determined by the intensity and type of movement. Power movements such as cleans require longer recovery to allow high-speed movements, anywhere from two to five minutes. Higher intensity intervals also need more recovery than a lower intensity, longer duration interval.

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