Pre-made exercise programs
Programs are all over the place. They all claim to give you a super lean, super strong body, usually with between 30 and 90 minutes per session and between 3 and 6 days per week of work. But do these “canned” workouts deliver on the promises they make? As with anything worth while, you get out of it what you put into it. Take the popular Tony Horton program P90X, the exercise methodology of periodization or “muscle confusion” is solid and as a trainer, I can tell you that it works, but only if you push yourself and reach levels close to your maximal. Other programs like spin classes and Body Pump (from Les Mills) offer similar types of results but with a much more static set of exercises (spin is primarily leg based HIIT training, and Body Pump focuses more on localized muscle fatigue without cardiovascular fatigue).
The real question is, do they work, and if they work, why? Well, in general if you’re working up a good sweat, reaching anaerobic maximal capacity (heavy breathing, muscle fatigue), or working to technical failure, you’re probably doing something right; as with anything though, the real bane of these programs are the adherence required for long-term success. A workout program that leaves you tired and sweaty is great, but if you become quickly bored with the moves, if the moves are extremely repetitive, or if there are barriers to workout, then the program might be doomed from the start.
Whether you’re an avid exerciser, or a beginner just looking to shed some unwanted pounds, it’s all about finding a program that you can stick to and that goes for both nutrition and for exercise. While some of these programs offer a tremendous one time workout with excellent gains, over the long-term, their level of difficulty may deter many from staying with the program. For others, if you perform them often, because of their repetitive nature, not only may you become bored, but your muscles will become accustomed to the workout, which means more efficiency and less energy being needed to perform the same (and even harder) versions of the routine.
If you are now, or are thinking of becoming a fitness professional, remember, it’s all about being dynamic, adjusting to your client’s needs, and keeping their interest peaked. Doing the same routine every week may be a good way to increase a specific activity, but it’s also a good way to bore your client, or make them think they no longer need you. So be very careful when you recommend one of these canned programs as an in-between routine (one they can do between sessions), better to take the time, sit down, and write-up 3 or 4 different routines with guidelines on when and where to do them, and sit down every few months and re-write or revise the programs to keep your clients interested.
The bottom line is that it’s all about keeping the pressure on. Changing it up and offer things that add value to the workout besides simple physical gains. Make sure your clients are engaged with you, talking to you, offering up their own opinions, and giving you feedback on a routine. Clients that feel like they are contributing are clients that see value in the program, and that means better adherence and better physical gains.