Are you tired of your current strength program, or are you lost and do not know where to start and need help. Finding the best strength training program can be hard and frustrating, there are so many training programs out there that claim to be the best for everyone like High intensity interval training, or programs that just focus on aerobic exercise, while these might be great programs but it may not be the right one for you.
Let’s be honest we are all guilty of being that guy/gal who goes in the gym and do some resistance training that focuses on one particular muscle group. (I.E. Upper body, lower body, back day, arm day etc..) Or we use so many resistance bands that we look ridiculous, or we just go in and lift without learning how our bodies move.
This is where I come in to help! I want to be the first to tell you that there is no one program fits all. You have to test and find the right one that fits your training style, body type and fitness goals. You should be cycling through a program and avoid doing the same thing over and over. A program that has a lot of bicep curls multiple times a week might not be the best program.
ANSWER THESE 3 QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU FIND THE RIGHT STRENGTH PROGRAM.
What are your goals?
What are your limitations?
These are some basic questions you should ask yourself to prevent you from overthinking and over analyzing.
Having the right goals, knowing your limitations and taking necessary steps before starting a program will help you narrow down the best strength training program for you.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?
There are no right or wrong answers here. Your goals are totally up to you. If you don’t have a goal before starting a strength program, you will be lost and your training will be meaningless and messy.
But how do you find out your goals? Do you just sit down and say “Okay I want to lose 10 pounds by next week, just go to the gym everyday and work”? This may or may not work but is this realistic? Do you have a proper game plan to get you from point A to point B?
This is where you should use the SMART goals technique to set your goals and prepare you for success.
R- Realistic/ Relevant
Here are some fitness goals examples that you can make into a more specific goal.
Improve Strength (What kind of strength? Why?)
Build Muscle/ Muscle Mass/ Lean Muscle (Why?)
Lose Weight/ Weight Loss (How much weight? Why?)
Reduce Pain; Muscle Aches, Joint Pain (Where? Why?)
Implement Good Form (For what movements? Why?)
WHAT ARE YOUR LIMITATIONS?
We all have our limits when it comes to anything we do in life. For strength training, weight training, or any kind of fitness training. There are 4 main limitations we have that prevents us from starting a strength program or achieving our fitness goals. These limitations are:
If you know that you have one of these 4 limitations I would suggest you start your fitness journey by assessing these limitations.
The easiest limitation to fix of is the knowledge limitations. Today we have the internet that has so many free information blogs, podcasts, images, and videos. Utilize these tools to help you understand more about what strength training, fitness, health and how your body works.
With my athletes I emphasize on educating them to help them achieve the impossible and surpass their limits. You need to learn more about the human body and how you can use and utilize it to achieve your goals.
Motivation will play a huge factor into training. If you become unmotivated, you need a support group of training partners, a team or a coach to keep you in check and push you to be your best.
As for Pain and Mobility, these two usually go hand in hand. When you have mobility issues you might experience pain, if you have pain you might have some mobility issues. So before you start a strength training program, you should find out how serious your pain and mobility issues are and learn how your bodies move.
Go see a doctor, a specialist or a chiropractor and get some help. (Check out my chiropractor, he is one of the best in the bay area; Aaron Vanderhoof. Book an appointment and tell him Alvin sent you)
Okay, this is the most important part of the what you should do first before starting a strength program. Make sure you did not skip any of the steps above.
Here is what you should do before you start a program:
Check your Mobility
Check your Flexibility
Learn the basics on how your body works
Learn how to breathe properly
Learn recovery technique
Ask yourself “ARE YOU DETERMINED AND READY TO START?”
Check-out the book How To Become A Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett. Dr. Kelly Starrett—founder of mobilitywod.com—shares his revolutionary approach to mobility and maintenance of the human body and teaches you how to become your own performance doctor, allowing you to live a healthy, happier, more fulfilling life.
To see if you are at an optimal level with your mobility and flexibility there are some basic assessments that need to be done to get a good base of knowledge to see if you need to improve your range of motion. Without proper mobility and flexibility you will be putting unnecessary stress on your tissues which will lead to injury.
For the next 3 on the list, read articles, books, blog posts and know them by heart. Learning how body works will be important, most of us have no clue on how things work. Think about it as a manual to your car, if you don’t know how it works you can’t drive it or you can’t use it well.
As a coach, some of the first things I teach my athletes if they don’t know already is how the shoulder girdle, GH joint, hips, ankles etc.. work. These help you stabilize movements and most of our movements come from here.
Breathing, I know it may be weird to some of you but you are probably and most likely are breathing wrong. When breathing, we want to use our diaphragm to breathe instead of our secondary muscles which is what most of us are doing.
Watch this video of Jason Rodriguez talking about some basic breathing and bracing techniques.
FINDING THE BEST PROGRAM
Now that we know your SMART goals, you know what your limitations are, and you went through the list of things you need to do before starting a program, you are ready to find the best program for your fitness goals.
Use the steps explained above to determine the best strength training program for you. Whether your goal is powerlifting, bodybuilding, weight loss, or you’re a weekend warrior, your program should have the same end goal as you.
Some common types of strength training are, Functional Strength, Calisthenics, Powerlifting, & Olympic Weight Lifting are a few.
Functional strength is just like how it’s named. This is a great type of strength training for general fitness individuals and the weekend warriors. This will get you strong and stay functional.
Calisthenics is a type of training where your movements are based on pure body movement which will improve relative strength. (Strength relative to your body type and weight)
Powerlifting focuses on improving maximal strength for the Big 3 movements (Squat, Bench & Deadlift).
Weight Lifting type of training is great for any athlete that looks to improve strength, speed, & power. The main movements for this type of training are the Clean & Jerk and the Snatch.
The cool thing about a strength training program is that you can modify and change the exercises based on your goals and needs. For example in Powerlifing we train the big 3 (Squat, Bench & Deadlift) if your goal is to improve Olympic Weight Lifting, you will need to change the accessories and the main lifts to the Clean & Jerk and Snatch and necessary accessories.
To narrow down what the best strength training program for you, we also have to think about what concept would help you progress.
Check out these 3 Great Strength Training Programs that you should use.
If you are a beginner I would recommend starting of with a linear type of program. This type of programming will require you to add weight daily, weekly or monthly to your exercises. A linear progression will also make training very simple as you are only focusing on one aspect of training which is increasing general and base strength.
For beginners who have never trained before or have some training experience, building a strong base of strength will benefit your training journey no matter what your goals are. Individuals who are experienced can also benefit from this during their off season to reinforce their strengths and help prevent injury.
This concept of building a strong base is an important phase of your training. Put it this way, let us think about a pyramid. If a pyramid has a huge wide base, the peak of that pyramid will be higher and more stable compared to a narrow base. When you build a good base of strength, you will have a much higher strength peak.
Here is an example of a program that builds your base of strength.
Day 1 Sets of 3
Push Up (10 Reps)
TRX Row (10 Reps)
Goblet Squat (10 Reps)
Cook Hip Lift (10 Reps)
Plank (30 Sec Hold)
Day 2 Sets of 3
1/2 Kneeling Alternating Overhead Press (10 Reps)
1/2 Kneeling Inline Row (10 Reps)
Body weight Chin Ups (10 Reps)
Slide board Leg Curls (10 Reps)
Side Planks (30 Sec Hold)
Day 3 Sets of 3
Vertical Jump (Jump Squats) (10 Reps)
Tall Kneeling Wall Ball (10 Reps)
1/2 Kneeling Side Toss (10 Reps)
Farmers Walk (30 – 40 Yard Walk)
Walking Lunges (10 Reps each)
As a coach my main goal for my clients is to teach you how your bodies move by utilizing different types of training. We should all learn how to move without any assistance like weight machines and utilize free weights or body weight training especially for individuals who have current or prior injuries or who have the typical desk jobs most of us have today.
If you are having problems going through these steps and finding the best strength training program for you book a free consultation and we can determine what strength program will work best for you.