by Mike Whitman

I use the term appropriate programming quite often, almost to the point where it may come off as some cheesy phrase or buzzword; you know the ones where you are sitting in a meeting and Billy from sales has a powerpoint filled with slides about synergistic integration, actionable analytics, and monetization strategies. But, appropriate programming is really important because without that you are just doing physical activity, which isn’t bad, but it isn’t great. So how do we start building a program?

First you have to be really honest with yourself and figure out what your goals are, how hard you are willing to work for them, how much time you can devote to them, and write that down because the entire plan starts there. This is where most people get off track. You know how many people in a consultation said being in shape was a 10 out of 10 important to them yet they were at least 50 pounds overweight and weren’t physically active? If something is 10 out of 10 important to you, literally nothing else in your life can rival that. Nothing. So be honest and figure out how hard you are willing to work for this goal.

Then you need to figure out what you want from a program. This would be that whole goal setting area. Ideally goals are specific, they have timelines attached to them, and they are realistically attainable. “I want to be in better shape” is vague as all hell and is a trash goal. “I want to have less than 15% body fat, weigh 190 pounds, be able to do 10 pull-ups and power clean my bodyweight” is a MUCH better place to start. All of these are measurable, we can figure out our starting point, we know our initial end goal, we can create checkpoints within our timeline, and hold ourselves accountable to a plan. Not bad.

“What if I don’t know what my goal is?” We hear this a lot more than you think, and for a lot of people they legitimately don’t have a goal other than feeling better, or being healthier. Or at least they think they don’t have a goal. This is where you have to ask the questions that get uncomfortable: when were you happiest with the way you looked? How much did you weigh then? What size were you? Who did you always want to look like when you grew up? Is there someone you want to be stronger than? What kind of role model do you want to be for your kids? Is there a neighbor named Karen, that come hell or high water, you will look better than when the pool first opens up this year because Karen is a bitch and that will give you satisfaction that even though she complained about your shrubs to the HOA so you had to remove them, you know you look good and she looks like her legs are made of cottage cheese? You have to find something and then build from there.

Hypothetically if the person above really did answer those questions we may get that they felt their best when they weighed 130 pounds which was 20 pounds ago, they wish their butt wasn’t so flat, they like the look of someone when you can actually see their hamstring muscles, they wish their low back didn’t hurt but they know their low back is weak, they want to be a fit mom so their kids are more likely to be healthy, and they really fuckin’ hate Karen.

Now the fun begins. We have goals, we have a picture of what we are working on, and assuming this was a healthy 35 year old female with some lifting experience we build the program. Probably going to be something built around the Nautilus Glute Drive, deadlifts, squats, RDLs, push-ups, shoulder press, rows, Versa Pulley, Versa Climber, working on her movement patterns, and keeping that hate for Karen. As we continue the program we adjust as we go based on how her body responds to certain lifts, exercise load, natural predisposition to strength and certain movement patterns, and tweak it until we are right where we need to be. This process never really ends but that is the fun part. Much like a group of hobbits, “We’re going on an adventure!”