7 Ways to Program Your Fitness Destination

Imagine it’s 1990. No internet, no google maps, and no mobile GPS devices. Ahhh…..it was a simpler time wasn’t it? Say you live in Minnesota, “Hey, I live in Minnesota! What a cowinkydink!” Anyways, let’s say you wanted to travel to the incredibly popular tourist destination of Spokane, Washington. I’m pretty sure that’s not an incredibly popular tourism spot, but let’s use it as a location anyway. Remember, no internet, no google maps, and no GPS. You’d basically either have to resort to the ‘ol Rand McNally, or wing it. When it comes to your roadmap to the get the health and fitness results you want, it isn’t any different. Are you going to take a roadmap along with your kettlebell or just wing it and drive in whichever direction you feel like each day?   

1) Where is your destination?

You’ve got to know where you want to go. You must begin with the end in mind. Yes, this may evolve on the journey, but right now, you need to have a blueprint, or your own Rand McNally, to get you this place that only exists in your mind right now.  So where is this place? When would you like to get there? How long are you going to stay? What’s the longitude and latitude?

In other words, what’s your body composition going to be in this place? Is it going to be skinny and soft, large and soft, big and muscular, lean and strong? When do you want to reach your goal? Is it in 6 months? Is it in 2 years? Make sure you develop a realistic time-frame to achieve this goal in your mind. 

You must know where you want to be in order to create the health and fitness roadmap with your training and diet to actually get you there. 

You’ve got to know where you want to go. You must begin with the end in mind. 

2) What’s your training frequency?

How many miles are you going to travel each day? Are you going to chip away at the destination or put yourself on a caffeine drip, tape your eyelids open, and put the pedal to the metal and let her buck until you get there? Truth be told, you have to be honest with yourself and what you’re willing and able to commit to. I’ve seen many folks do the aforementioned “caffeine drip” approach only to yield some pretty impressive short-term results that unfortunately are also lived for the short term before they lose their Rand McNally and head back to the same old town. How many days per week are you willing to train for your goal? Is it 2 times per week, or is it 7 times per week? This answer is pivotal to determining the speed in which you reach your health and fitness destination; however, speed isn’t that important, as long as you get there. 

How many days per week are you willing to train for your goal? Is it 2 times per week, or is it 7 times per week?

3) When will you rest?

You can’t just go “balls to the wall” 24/7. Just like you can’t drive across country back and forth without at least pulling over at rest area for a couple hour snoozer. The truth is, you either burn out or get injured, both of which lead you to a destination you do not want be. Making sure to have a rest day or two every week is a smart move. However, a rest day cannot turn into lay around on the couch, go on a Netflix binge, and eat a couple pints of caramel moose tracks ice cream. Gosh that stuff is good. Think of a rest day more as an active recovery day. Go for a walk, use this day for outside chores, go hunting, go fishing, just be active without the stress of a physically demanding training session. Keep in mind, that when proper recovery isn’t applied, a hard training session can actually distress (bad) the body rather than be eustress (good) for the body. 

Keep in mind, that when proper recovery isn’t applied, a hard training session can actually distress (bad) the body rather than be eustress (good) for the body. 

4) How fast (Intensity) are you going to go every day?

This is an interesting one. Do you want your body to be a Prius or a Ferrari? Do you want to go easy and light and be super duper economical to make sure you stay north of 40mpg? Or, do you want to press the gas, flirt with a speeding ticket, and get to your destination ASAP? Perhaps you can compromise? This relates to the frequency and rest sections above. Training intensity means different things to different exercisers. Intensity in the strength world applies to a percentage of your 1 rep max in a particular lift, while intensity in most adult fitness circles, is how many reps can you do in a set amount of time and then be able to do it again with minimal rest. This needs to be balanced and when intelligently applied, intensity can wave up and down throughout the week in order to provide a consistent stimulus to the body while not blowing a gasket (injury). Some days you gotta drop the “torque and let her buck.” I remember some of my buddies saying that when I was a younger man and I just laughingly nodded my head and acted like I knew what that meant. I’m still not sure that I do, but let’s just assume it means go FAST! Other days, you just gotta hop in the Prius and get some MPGs.

Training intensity means different things to different exercisers.

5) How loud (Volume) are you going to jam to your tunes?

I mean how long can you listen to death metal? I can mix a heavy hitting Metallica-esque jam 1 in every 4-5 songs, but you can only head bang so much. You gotta mix in a feel good country song, a spirit filling worship tune, and then it just wouldn’t be right to leave out some 80’s hair band jams. Just like you gotta mix up the tunes on your playlist, you gotta mix up the volume in your workouts. If you keep head bangin’ to rep ranges north of 50 in your exercises, and do that back to back in similar movement patterns day after day, the speakers are going to blow (injury/burnout). This is why you gotta program in some “feel good” training sessions and even some easy ones, so you can come back around head bang again.

Just like you gotta mix up the tunes on your playlist, you gotta mix up the volume in your workouts.

6) What kind of fuel are you putting in your engine?

“You can’t outwork a poor diet.” I know that’s pretty unoriginal on my part, but you know it’s true. In order to get to your destination, you’re going to need to stop and get some fuel for the engine to keep running. But you wouldn’t put E-85 in a diesel engine, nor would you put diesel fuel in that Prius. The point is, we have to program our nutrition to get our desired result as well. “Calories are king, but macros matter” is a phrase I’ve coined to help people understand these two nutrition principles. To gain weight, you must eat more calories than you expend. To lose weight, you must eat less calories than you burn. Additionally, the type of calories you’re consuming, otherwise known as “Macros,” can determine the composition of your weight gain or weight loss.  In my personal experiences, I’ve never met someone who wanted to gain weight in an effort to put on more fat; conversely, I’ve never met someone who wanted to lose weight only to keep the fat and lose the muscle. 

In my personal experiences, I’ve never met someone who wanted to gain weight in an effort to put on more fat; conversely, I’ve never met someone who wanted to lose weight only to keep the fat and lose the muscle. 

7) What Engine are you using?

Just like there’s different types of engines, our bodies are made up different energy systems, engines if you will, that designed to support various types of activities. There’s an energy system designed for short duration, max effort type of activities, an energy system for long duration, endurance type activities, and an energy system for the in between stuff. Knowing which energy system to target primarily can impact the results your seeking in a profound way. If you want to lose weight in the form of body fat while building muscle, targeting the long duration, endurance based system isn’t a good idea. On the flip side, if you want to gain weight in the form of muscle mass, and you choose to just go for 3 miles runs, you’ll never get to your destination. These examples are called “spinning your tires.” In other words, you’re literally working against yourself. Learn how to target these systems to program the results you desire.

Learn how to target these systems to program the results you desire.

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