The Best Workouts I’ve Ever Had Shared these Common Factors

With our “Train Like Your Trainer” program starting next week, I’ve been reflecting on my personal workouts over the last 16 years and I’ve started to think about the common factors among the best workouts I’ve ever been through.  By “best” I mean those workouts that stand apart from the rest in terms of intensity, challenge, focus, and fatigue.  The list below sheds light on the commonalities in most of the best workouts I have ever experienced.  Collectively, they serve as a guideline for productive training not only for me, but also for almost anyone interested in engaging in intense, evidence-based resistance exercise.  Of course, this is not an all-encompassing list of evidence-based exercise tenets, but guidelines to maximize one’s individual workouts. 

The Process for Sustained Results

Business and self-improvement authority, Brian Tracy asserts that long-term thinking and decision-making is the hallmark and commonality among all successful people.  Certainly, this mindset lends itself to effective exercise.  The commitment to "sustainable" or long-term resistance exercise is the cornerstone of an intelligent fitness prescription.  Performed properly, resistance exercise mitigates chronic disease risk factors, reverses aging, and stimulates fitness improvements while minimizing injury risk.  If you take a long-term approach to resistance exercise, I think the process should look like this:
  • Determination of goals and objectives. What do you want to accomplish in your training?
  • Intelligent workout "programming" or design.  The design of the workout should support your goals.
  • Supervision and Instruction. For best results, resistance exercise should be supervised.  This theme emerges in research with 20-year old athletes and 60-year old Type 2 Diabetics: We produce far better results when our strength training is supervised.
  • Analyze the experience.  As the trainee, you need to make an assessment on how you are responding to the training stimulus.  Questions to consider include: Do I feel recovered between workouts? Am I experiencing any joint pain? Should I be increasing or decreasing my workout frequency? Am I getting stronger?
  • Assess progress.  Is your workout-to-workout form, technique, movement speed improving?  Is your intensity of effort improving? Are you getting stronger during your most recent workouts?  Are you making progress over the long haul? Is your body composition changing (most effectively assessed via Bod Pod)? Regularly consulting your data around these questions provides tangible answers.
  • Modify the plan.  The workout design and execution should be modified based on the above assessments.  Regular, intelligent modification to the workout programming ensures an engaging training experience, a continual challenge, and persistent health and fitness results.  The process should then continue to repeat itself.

Most importantly, the above process only works when it is built upon a foundation of evidence-based exercise.  That is, the exercise prescription should be a representation of the preponderance of scientific research.  This is the only way to guarantee safe and result-producing exercise If you aren't using an evidence-based approach, you are just making it up as you go.  

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