Adjusting a program to fit YOU
No program is tailored to an individual and how they are feeling on a daily basis and most programs, unless made by a trainer you’ve had for a long time, knows your schedule and how you react to different training methods, isn’t made for you the individual at all.
Now don’t get me wrong, a program is a great thing to have, actually it’s a necessity. You need to have a plan, something to follow to get to your destination, training is no different. However, you need to be a part of any program, no matter how good, to get the very best results out of it you possibly can. You may not know how to build your own program to get the results you want, but you have it within you to reshape a program you’ve purchased or been given to fit what your body is capable on any given day.
That’s one thing I’ve learned over my years of training, through my fighting days, adding weight days (which still exist), and my overall getting in the best shape I can days (which also still exist) – I’ve learned to adjust a program to coincide with my physiology or how my body is reacting to stress that day.
Some days I’ll walk into the gym feeling invincible, and I’ll take full advantage of this. I’ll lift a little heavier than normal, or I’ll add a burnout set at the end of training a muscle group. I’ll push my body beyond what the program asks for that day.
The opposite can be said for days when I’m feeling like crap. I might shorten the sets up, or even the rest periods and make it a really short and intense day because I know my energy is going to be depleted much faster than it would on an average day of training. Even though I’m feeling useless I want to get the most bang for my buck and push my body in a more intense spurt.
Just because you’re not feeling great doesn’t mean that you can’t get a great workout in, it just means that you may have to tweak it a bit, and only you know how and what to do to save this workout.
If you’re not feeling too hot think of making these kinds of changes:
3 sets of 10 reps – into – 2 sets + one drop set
4 sets of 4 reps – into – 3 sets of 5, then adding in 1 burnout set of 30+ reps of a different exercise
The same can be said for plateaus. If you’re plateauing with certain exercises and you’re not seeing the same results you were a few weeks ago, then change them up. Even if the program doesn’t call for a change, mix things up and see how your body reacts to the change.
If your workouts are feeling flat on the 3rd week of a 3 week split, make a little change in the reps, in the weight or even in the exercise to make a difference. That little change can mean gaining or losing a few extra pounds, whichever your goal may be. You are the only one who knows how your body is reacting to a workout, and you are the only one who knows when to make that change.
Programs are a great guideline and if you get a good one it’ll really show you how to get results, keep you accountable and teach you a whole lot about training, but in the end you have to put your final touches on anything to make it work its absolute best.
If you’re just starting out in the gym, follow the program word for word; sometimes intuitively knowing how your body would react to a change takes time and, like anything else, practice. But if you’ve been at it for a while and are in the middle of a program, and I’m sure it’s a good one, then feel free to tinker with it if your workouts start to feel flat and you begin to plateau.