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Exercising or Following a Program?

May 5, 2016

You simply cannot do it all. Not having one more hour or even half-hour to squeeze out of your day is a real thing. There was a time when I let missing a workout cause so much heartache, the added stress was as bad as missing two workouts. Now, with more than two full-time careers between me and my wife, plus three small children, reality is we are just going to miss sometimes, which is just fine. Letting go of the teetotaler, if I can’t do it “right” then I’m not going to do it at all mindset is a tough proposition. If you are the type that tends to not do anything because you can’t do everything, following a program is a perfect solution. As long as the program is prioritized and the erratic nature of daily schedules is kept separate, results will follow.       

A legitimate program is often what separates those moderately fit from people really enjoying the benefits that come from a high level of physical fitness. Doing any sort of physical activity is highly preferred to spending the whole day sedentary. Where fitness is concerned, something always beats nothing. However, to reach the next level it becomes necessary to move beyond simply exercising into following a well thought out system, appropriately scaled to suit the individuals background, current fitness level, and future goals.

The best programs, no matter the goals, include some form of periodization. Periodization takes advantage of small micro cycles designed to tax a particular part or system for a short period of time (usually 2-6 weeks). A simple example is, two weeks of strength training then four weeks of cardiovascular targeted training, then three weeks of bodyweight movements. Through all three cycles the focus is on one area, but other systems are still trained with the big picture in mind. This way you can focus for a short period while allowing other parts of your body to recover from a previous cycle because good programming often leads to small injuries – yes, you read that correctly. I am not suggesting a broken leg or torn rotator cuff is the sign you are on the right path to fitness, rather we sometimes get small aches-and-pains from pushing ourselves up the next rung on the ladder and it should be expected. Doing anything is good, exercise is better, but a good program is best.

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