Why a Training Program Matters

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You know how every once in a while you “discover”, or are reminded of, something that you knew and realized that what you were doing was stupid? You know, the moments resulting in a “duh” moment and feeling like the world’s biggest dummy?

For example, I always think I can sneak a black shirt into the dryer with my whites and it won’t get covered with white lint because “it’s just one shirt and I don’t have any towels in there”. Fast-forward to a hour later and I’m wearing a shirt that makes me look like I’m growing mold.

Other than my laundry disasters, I had another one of those moments a little while back and it’s something I see others do pretty often, actually.

What’d I do that was so dumb, even though I knew better?

I wasn’t following a training program. Good program, bad program, or something in between, I wasn’t there. I was going “by feel”.

I’d had a few injuries, some travel, the holidays, and all sorts of other distractions that took away from my regular training schedule. Instead of working around all of these things, I just trained. Rather than hitting the gym with a plan, I was more just going in to squat, press, or whatever and all of the assistance work fell to what I felt like doing at that particular time.

Now, advanced lifters (almost always drug-using bodybuilders) will talk about “instinctual training” like it’s what you should aspire to. Training by instinct all well and good, to a point. Sometimes it’s fun and refreshing to just come into the gym and play, after all.

However, play rarely leads to progress, especially in the long-term.

So while I was staying in shape and retaining most of my strength, I certainly wasn’t making the progress I expect of myself. Serendipitously, one of my friends who has similar goals to mine asked me to write up a program for him. I’ll explain more of the story in the link below, but the long and short of it is that I decided, after writing it out, to put myself on the same program.

The results were awesome. We’re talking big deadlift PR, increased vertical jump, and even some size on the guns (come on, any dude that says they’re upset about a little more arm size is full of shit), all in the first four weeks of the program. I’ll take it.

Why the big gains?

Well, first of all, it’s a great program. *wink*

But more importantly, it gave me clear objectives every day, made sure I was balanced in my training, and above all kept me focused. There was no more wishy-washy, “I don’t feel like doing X today”, etc to my workouts. Every day I had a clearly-defined objective to focus on that I knew wasn’t just going to keep me treading water but instead getting stronger and faster every day.

The bottom line is that while there are a select few who can just train by feel and continue to make progress, the VAST majority of people get better with a sound training program. Whether you write your own programs or use someone else’s, if you have a structure to follow and objectives to reach you will be much, much more likely to accomplish your goals.

Want to see the program I followed? I’m warning you… It’s a bear! I introduce to you: GRIZZLY!

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