Beginners Guide to Building Your Own Workout Program
People lift for a variety of reasons, whether it’s to increase mass, strength, power or some other factor. And the way they go about achieving their fitness goals is the source of debate across internet forums. Everything from ideal training splits, sets, reps, and even rest intervals are sources of debate. Despite these differences in details, one underlying principle unites these lifters – an understanding that programming matters. Poorly designed programming can leave you in a suboptimal state, which will impact your ability to reach your goals, or worse leave you susceptible to injury.
One concept that lifters should take into account when assessing their program is that they’re addressing the following fundamental movement patterns:
While you don’t have to incorporate each movement pattern into all of your workouts, it would be wise to assess whether you’re performing a sufficient amount of each movement at some point over the course of your training program.
Failure to address each movement pattern can lead to muscle imbalances and a higher susceptibility to injury down the line. In addition to that, because the muscles operate as groups, if you have a weakness somewhere in your “chain,” your overall strength goals will suffer.
Lifters may overlook one of the fundamental movement patterns for a variety of reasons. Often, lifters choose to abandon an entire movement because they experience discomfort performing a specific exercise. Exercises make up movement patterns, but they’re not the stand alone movement pattern.
If a certain exercise gives you trouble for whatever reason rather than abandoning exercises from that movement find ways to incorporate other user-friendly exercises from that movement pattern.
Another common reason is tunnel vision on improving a specific lift when designing a program. While specificity and overload are necessities for training progress, you don’t want to totally neglect the other movements.
Lastly, some lifters do make an effort to address each of these movements in their programs but it might not be in a balanced fashion. We have a tendency to gravitate towards movements we excel at rather than ones we have more difficulty with. In addition to this, we have to consider what movements/postures we utilize throughout the course of our day not just in a gym.
This is why it’s common for many trainers as an example to recommend 2:1 pull to push ratios to provide some balance from slouching in front of a computer for 8 hours. Some ways you could go about evaluating your program is comparing strength ratios across movements, total reps performed of each movement or an honest assessment of movement quality for each movement.
Here are some strategies to ensure you address any of the fundamental movement patterns that you might be underutilizing in your program.
- User Friendly Alternatives: we all have different biomechanics structures, past injury histories, and exercise competencies. Finding suitable alternatives for the different movements will vary among individuals, common alternatives include using things like: landmines, trap bars, resistance bands, altering grips, angles on exercises, and stances.
- Bodyweight Warm Up Circuit: one easy way to ensure you address each of the fundamental movements is to start each warm up with a bodyweight mobility circuit where you utilize each movement. This serves as an effective way to increase the frequency that you preform underutilized movements
- Use an overlooked movement as part of your conditioning session: Dedicating a conditioning session to loaded carries is an easy way to address that movement if it’s overlooked. But any of the other movements can easily be programmed in by using things like the rowing ergometer (pulls) or MetCons for thrusters (squat/push) or kettlebell swings (hinge).