The Most Important PRO In Your Fitness Program.

by Kris MacPhee on January 15, 2014

There are many things you should consider when starting a new training program or evaluating your current one. Your ideal program should be based on a number of factors including, your goals, your current health, fitness history, likes and dislikes, and many more.  However there is one PRO that will determine the benefits you derive from it and the long lasting success you will have. The PRO I am talking about is NOT the amount of professionals who endorse or currently use the program you are going to start. Just because a bunch of pro athletes are doing it doesn’t mean that it is appropriate for you and just because a bunch of pro athletes endorse it doesn’t mean that they actually follow it (which is a whole new post.)
The most important PRO in your program is progression.  Progression will allow you to see long term results in a timely fashion. The progressive nature of your program will provide safety, structure, and success.  Progression should be evident in your goal setting, program design, individual workouts, and exercise selection. Here are a few ways to infuse proper progression into your program:

  • Goal Setting – When establishing goals be sure to include long term, intermediate, and short term goals.  This will allow you to see progress and help you establish an appropriate starting point.  Too often I see people focusing only on the end goal and within 1-2 weeks they feel frustrated, sore, and ready to quit.  Setting short term goals will help challenge, encourage and motivate you along the way.
  • Program Design – A quality program will reveal progression in training intensity, frequency, duration, and type of training. Just because the start of a training program may seem easy doesn’t mean it isn’t working.  “No pain – no gain” is a myth that is typically proclaimed by poor coaches with no understanding of exercise science or human motivation.  A quality program should make you better not just make you tired.  Starting at a low volume of training will allow you to build appropriate endurance, strength, flexibility, speed, and body awareness to tackle a higher work load later in the program.  There are no shortcuts so skipping an introductory or base phase will lead to problems sooner than later.  A great question to ask yourself when pondering this is “if you don’t have time to do it right then when will you have time to do it over?”
  • Workouts – Workouts should have a purpose and be a reflection of your goals and the stage you are at in your program.  Each workout should see progression in itself starting with a light warm-up activity, movement preparation, light lifting, high intensity activity, cool down, and stretch.  “Your workout is our warm-up” is a catchy slogan but not a smart mantra to follow.  An injury today means there is no workout (or a modified one) tomorrow.  Injuries can be devastating to a fitness goal so be smart about your workout structure.
  • Exercise Selection – The types of exercises and drills you complete in a workout should be very individual in nature.  The primary focus should always be in quality movement at an appropriate speed.  Before you load up a bar or use resistance you should be able to complete the exercise through a full range of motion, without pain, at a slow to moderate speed.  Once this is established then you can add resistance or speed to the movement but never compromise form so that you can do it with more weight or faster.

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