You wanna write your first workout plan and take programming into your own hands? That’s great! Learning how to write a workout plan is no voodoo and is a great learning experience.
Everybody is different and no one knows exactly what works best for you. Even not yourself, unless you try out a lot of different stuff. But besides that – there are a lot of common things which work for everyone.
That’s why I wrote this series for you about workout programming. So that everyone willing can write a good workout plan and make his own experiences. Over the course of three posts we will learn:
Is your day to day life/job/life at home stressful?
Do you take regularly some time and plan your recovery?
Working out is nothing more than additional stress – although it is good stress too much from a variety of sources can harm you, too.
Stress is nothing bad – on the contrary it forces you to adapt, grow and get stronger.
But as with many things too much, as well as too less, is never good. It is about balance:
Think of stress as a bucket. Once you throw too much water in it, the bucket flows over and it will be a watery mess. Plus, the bucket doesn’t care if you, your creepy uncle or your wife pours water in it. The only thing that counts is water itself.
If your bucket flows over – you have to wipe it up. Then you hit an imaginary brick wall full speed. This can show itself in psychological issues, aggressiveness, or even physical injuries.
Therefore, think well how hard you kick your ass in training. And if you can recovery well all the damage inflicted upon yourself.
This should be addressed, too, in every good program – but is often overlooked or addressed in a side note. No Pain, No Gain isn’t entirely true. It is just one side of the gains-medal. Otherwise, it would be too easy, right?! 😀
They cover general programming science easy to grasp, even for the non-professional and are legit no matter if you are a powerlifter, bodybuilder or a gymnast.
Training happens in Cycles
Likewise the seasons your workout seen from above over the entire year should be cyclic. Maybe not in 4 defined cycles, but likewise the seasons some will be more sunny than others.
At first glance – they may seem really boring , like algebra. But unlike algebra, once understood cycling your training and your goals can be really useful!3
A macrocycle is the big, overlying cycle.
Let’s say it spans across a whole year.
For that particular year you set a few goals. Many overestimate what they manage to do in a month but underestimate their success in a year. I always like to think myself back exactly one year in time. Where have you been? Where are you now?
The macrocycle is then divided in smaller parts – the mesocycles.
The mesocycles are the next smaller unit.
Think of macrocycles and mesocycles as you thin of the year and the months.
A mesocycle is about 4-8 weeks long. For our example let’s say it spans across 4 weeks. Like the months.
That said – your macrocycle consists of 12 different mesocycles, right?
Each mesocycle can be divided into even smaller microcycles.Would be too easy otherwise…
A microcycle could be every week.
For what use are these cycles?
Cycles shall secure that you are successful. They encourage you to look at the big whole. And make success better measurable.
That’s why you should determine goals for every year, as well as every month or even day.
After every session and at the end of each cycle you check if you are on course:
Did I get stronger? Could I do more reps? Could I hold an exercise longer or even a more difficult one without dying?
Did my technique improve? Am I more present while working out and feel better what my body is doing?
As you see success can have many faces. Getting strong is great, but just one mask used by the theatre of success. Control, mindfulness and endurance could be others.
To acknowledge your own successes in the first place is a great exercise, too. I think all too often you forget what you have accomplished. It gets standard.
What to keep in mind about cycles:
Macrocycle > some small mesocycles > many even smaller microcycles
Cycles keep you on track. They make success measurable.
Really useful things these cycles, aren’t they? 😀
Introducing: The Concept of Deloads
I love the concept of deloads.
Deloads are microcycles between mesocycles. Usually they take around a week and their key characteristic is decreased overall volume.
Or easily said – after a month of hard strength work you train one week not that much and give your body room to adapt.
Not just for your body deloads can be beneficial. I found that you come back mentally more clearly, too. No one can be year round on the apex of his performance – it looks more a rollercoaster
If you want to read about workout programming in calisthenics more specifically I can recommend Another great book specifically on bodyweight training, progressions, and workout structure is Steven Low’s Overcoming Gravity*.
Following a 3 day split when training 4 times a week might not be the best idea in the first place.
Fitting that statement I always remember the sentence said by Kelly Starret, the the only difference between you and for example an olympic gymnast is that he can take a much bigger beating than you.
All that math-bashing… I just try to cope with the trauma inflicted upon me by 3 years of unnecessary math I was forced to learn in high school.