You are a proactive health-conscious individual. You make deliberate decisions around your health, want to optimize your body’s capabilities, and follow specific nutrition guidelines. When it comes to diets, whether it’s low carb, ketogenic, vegan, dairy free, or gluten free, most healthy individuals follow (if only loosely) some form of programming. Why should our workouts be any different?
External stressors like exercise illicit different responses within our bodies. The science/physiology of exercise is understood. If you want to decrease your percentage body fat and increase your fat burning capacity, there is a physical recipe for that. Do you want to increase muscle mass and increase muscular strength? There’s a map for that as well. If we’re honest with ourselves about our goals and what we want to get out of exercising or with a gym membership, we can create and follow specific programming to get us there. This is the path to actual results.
Where to start?
Assessments / Base Line Measurements: It is difficult to change something that’s unmeasurable. Concrete objective data and metrics are hard to refute. However, starting with something as simple as body weight and percent body fat is a great starting point.
Though how we feel is also important, tangible data about our body helps us to determine whether or not our bodies are responding favorably to the programming. It will also help us determine when it might be time to change the program.
Cardiovascular programming: Where do you go or where do you start when you walk into your gym? Many individuals head straight to the cardio section. Should you start on cardio? How much cardio should you be doing? Should it be low and slow or high intensity intervals? What does high intensity intervals really mean? How does one quantify/measure high intensity? Should you perform cardio on an empty stomach? It is safe to be fasted while exercising? Does it make a difference depending on the time of day? What is the best way to measure my progress?
It depends on the individual.
These are just a selection of the most common questions I get asked on a daily basis.
Resistance Training: Where do we begin? Free weights or machines? How about resistance bands? “I hear Tom Brady only uses bands….I think I’ll do that.” Should I go with high weight and low repetitions or low weight and high repetitions? How many sets should I do? How long should a whole body workout take me? How many exercises do I need to do? Do I do upper body one day and lower body another? How many days/week should I go to the gym?
Again, it depends and here’s why: working with a health and fitness professional can be paramount in streamlining your progress and ensuring results. No matter what your health and fitness aspirations are, even if you are just getting started, being specific with your programming is key.
This does not mean you need to have a personal trainer with you at each workout to see and feel results. It does not mean you need to spend additional money. Most gyms/ fitness centers will meet with their members to help them set up a complimentary individual fitness program.
It is highly recommended to take advantage of a session like this. For many of us, time is our most valuable and most limited asset. Meeting with a health and fitness professional upfront can help you get the most out of your investment.
Start with this list:
1. Figure out your goals, how soon you are expecting to see results, and what you specifically want to get out of your workouts.
2. Have a fitness professional assist in setting up a program specific to your goals (Intensity, frequency, duration, periodization, recovery etc.)
3. Take baseline measurements or assessments.
4. Follow the plan consistently.
5. Re-assess and pivot programming as needed.
Good luck reaching your goals!
–Brandon Krcek MS CSCS
ACSM- Exercise Physiologist
NSCA- Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
NASM- Certified Personal Trainer
Titleist Performance Institute- Level 1 Trainer