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Training Programmes: how to formulate one and why they work.

They just sound so serious. That’s what put me off to start with. A TRAINING PROGRAMME sounds so…strict, so regimented, and most important of all, so much like something I couldn’t just ‘not feel like doing’ one day. But I have come to realize, that a/ they don’t have to be like that and b/ it’s actually no bad thing if they are! This epiphany prompted me to work with Will to formulate one of my very own.

The very first question he asked me, before we embarked on the training programme itself, was “what is your end goal?” Do you want to lose weight (how rude) or are you looking to get stronger? Are there particular areas of your body you want to work on (does he think there are?!), or do you just want to feel fitter and healthier? He explained that by determining my own, personal “finish line” it could help give me the motivation I need to keep going. I think it’s important to mention here that I tried not to get too hung up on visual goals. Although it’s key to have a goal – and this might be centred around weight loss, it’s important to remember looks aren’t (always!) the be all and end all. I find that feeling fit, strong and healthy is a way more potent driver than just shifting a muffin roll.

Goals: tick. Next stage: targets.

The SMARTER acronym works well to help formulate these:








Targets must be specific to your ability and be easily measurable. It is also important that the targets set are achievable and realistic. Targets must also be time-phased. Short-term targets influence long-term targets. Short-term targets usually relate to specific areas of development. Try to ensure that achieving short-term goals provides satisfaction and that they are linked to daily and weekly action plans. Long-term goals are often classified as outcome goals. Try to use outcome goals such as improving your performance.

Spending time thinking about the targets was definitely beneficial for me. I absolutely felt more motivated to continue with my regime when I reached my first short-term goals. I knew I was making progress, and it gave my self-confidence a bit of a boost. What’s more, it helped highlight a few necessary tweaks to the programme.

Goals: tick. Targets: tick. Now time for the programme itself. Some principles to consider are:

  • Training must be matched to the goals.

  • Fitness can only be improved by training more than you normally do. You must work hard.

  • Start slowly and gradually increase the amount of exercise and keep overloading.

  • Any adaptation that takes place as a result of training will be reversed when you stop training. If you take a break or don’t train often enough you will lose fitness.

You can then use the FITT principles to add in the detail:

  • decide how often to train.

  • choose how hard to train.

  • decide for how long to train.

  • decide which methods of training to use.

Of course everybody’s training programme will look different, dependant on goals etc, but as a general rule each training session should include 3 basic stages:

1. Warm-up: whole body exercise to raise heart rate and body temperature. Stretching to prepare muscles, ligaments and joints. Practising skills and techniques to be used in the session.

2. Main activity

3. Warm down: light exercise to help remove carbon dioxide, lactic acid and other waste products. Gentle stretching to prevent muscle soreness and stiffness later.

So, whilst there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, there are principles and guidelines that you can follow and apply to your training to ensure you have a balanced, effective, safe and enjoyable workout regime.

Talking of safe, it’s really important to have rest periods which allow the body to adapt. Too much training (overtraining) can lead to injury. And sleep. Sleep is vitally important. “After you train during the day, the body then grows stronger, burns fat and rebuilds damaged muscle tissue when you sleep.” So if you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll be putting yourself at a disadvantage, your workouts will suffer and you won’t have enough energy to train.

So do pace yourself. A training programme is set over a period of time, and can probably be likened more to a marathon than a sprint: results aren’t immediate, they need to be worked at. So, don’t rush it, stay focused and enjoy the journey. Good things come to those who wait, and work!

“I’d encourage anyone to work to a training programme. In my experience a well thought through plan of attack definitely helps my Clients stick with their training, and ultimately reach their goals. It also helps clear headspace - once you’ve invested the time up front to plan, then it’s just a matter of executing that plan. You wake up, you know what you have to achieve that day, and you do it. Easy! It’s also worth mentioning that a training programme should work alongside a nutritional programme, the 2 need to work together to ensure best results. We have various programmes available at HRF, which are online and very easy to follow. Alternatively you can book in a 10 or 20-week programme with a Personal Trainer (myself or Ryan). It depends what kind of person you are, for those who need a bit of a push to really keep them going, then a PT might be the answer.”

Wise words from the Big Man himself. So, give it a go, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. The team have a wealth of experience – use it!


The Guardian

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I am not a nutritionist or personal trainer, and make no claims to the contrary. What is written on this site should not be taken as fact or advice. It is merely an opinion blog.

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