Late last year, a good friend of mine asked me to write him a program to help him get in shape for his upcoming wedding. I was chuffed at the opportunity to help him and to showcase my skills in this area, as I was very confident that I had all the tools to get him in the best shape possible. As a friend, I relaxed my approach and skipped some of the early steps to get straight into the nitty gritty of assessment and program design, as time was of the essence – we only had 8 weeks to prepare. Mistake ONE. After completing a movement screen, body fat analysis and a short dietary recall, I created the program and showed him how to perform all the required tasks.
Mistake TWO was that I created a detailed personalised program that had technical warm ups (movement prep), detailed instructions and took over an hour to complete from start to finish. From my perspective, I thought “man that program is quality, he’s going to be in the best shape ever if he follows the program through.” Therein lay the problem; I had programmed what was going to achieve the best outcome, without factoring in that he was going to need to be autonomous and self motivated to actually do the work on his own. I assumed that he would have the time to complete everything, that the exercises were going to be easy for him to remember how to do and what equipment to use, and most importantly, that it was going to excite him and he would enjoy doing it for 8 weeks.
Now it wasn’t a complete disaster, as he did get into shape for his wedding via calorie restriction, group exercise classes and ad hoc gym workouts. The lesson I learnt from this experience, is never to skip over steps that assess someone’s lifestyle factors, what’s going to create best program buy-in and if they can execute the program without your presence. Given he was a friend, I’d altered my approach from what I would normally do and had given something that was not simple and easy to follow without assistance. You can create a masterpiece of a program, but it doesn’t mean shit if there is no compliance and mental engagement!
Programming is a complicated beast when dealing with general populations that have extremely busy schedules, lack of time, sedentary jobs and the desire to stay in shape. In this day and age, people want instant answers, simple solutions and results within a heartbeat… and for it to be fun. Trying to factor in every one of these details along with what people actually need to get results proves to be hard when trying to construct the elusive “perfect program”.
With that being said, I have attempted to construct a program that I believe is simple to follow, will produce maximum results for as little time that can be invested. Applying the Pareto principle a.k.a. the 80-20 rule to training and program design can cut out a lot of the less impactful methods and exercises that gym goers often fall victim to. An example how this principle is relevant is 80% of your results come from 20% of your exercises and 80% of your results will come from 20% of your training time.
It has been shown in several studies that frequency is the key for better results rather than having one day of high volume of training. (1, 2) In other words, do a little each day rather than having 1 or 2 epic sessions a week. Plus, following the research, it is better to focus on the big lifts (compound exercises), as isolation single joint exercises have negligible benefits in comparison, especially for the time-poor! (3)
To get FREE access to this program see below. Full training template included.
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Try it and let me know how you go! Hit me up on FaceBook here
- Gentil P, Soares SRS, Pereira MC, Cunha RRd, Martorelli SS, Martorelli AS, and Bottaro M. Effect of adding single-joint exercises to a multi-joint exercise resistance-training program on strength and hypertrophy in untrained subjects. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 38: 341-344, 2013.
- McLESTER JR, Bishop E, and Guilliams M. Comparison of 1 Day and 3 Days Per Week of Equal-Volume Resistance Training in Experienced Subjects. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 14: 273-281, 2000.
- Wernbom M, Augustsson J, and Thomeé R. The influence of frequency, intensity, volume and mode of strength training on whole muscle cross-sectional area in humans. Sports medicine 37: 225-264, 2007.