Monday, June 6, 2011

What are Workout Programs For?

If you're a guy, you probably hang out on websites that feature ads boasting new miracle workouts guaranteed to get you cut up like a Navy Seal in six weeks.

Of course, we all know that if you're over 20% body fat, you have to spend six months getting that number under 10% to even consider a six-week cutting phase. But for the sake of argument, let's say it's within the realm of possibility.

I'm going to tell you what those workouts are made up of.

Every single workout in existence takes as its baseline the ability to do four movements: Push Up, Pull Up, Squat and Crunch.

Seriously, that's it. Every other exercise in existence seems to be some variation of these movements. What's a Lunge? A squat with one leg forward. What's a Bench Press? A Push Up done on your back. What's a Figure-4 Double Crunch? A different kind of Crunch to make you feel like your life isn't boring (they're all Crunches...let's be serious folks).

The thing is, people spend a lot of money on workout programs. And of course, each program will have a structure to it that changes up how many of these basic movements you do, and in what order, and with what levels of intensity during intrinsic and extrinsic movements. But you might be thinking by now, "jeez...if I only need to exercise with four movements, why spend the money?"

You're partly right. You can, in fact, get in fairly decent shape with these four movements (if you can't do a Pull Up, start with chair dips) and a decent amount of commitment, at least three times a week. There's your workout right there...IF you've been out of shape, or out of the gym, for a while:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

  • Warm Up: 50 Jumping Jacks. Rest 60 seconds, then:
  • Push Ups: 3 sets of 8-12 (15-20 seconds rest between)
  • Pull Ups: 3 sets of 8-12 (15-20 seconds rest between)
  • Squats: 3 sets of 8-12 (15-20 seconds rest between)
  • Crunches: 3 sets of 8-12 (15-20 seconds rest between)

Can I have $50 now?

Just kidding. This is a really basic workout plan, and it will work. In fact, there are no major muscle movements that aren't targeted here, so it really is a full-body workout. Do your Pull Ups right, and you work your biceps. Do your Push Ups right, and you bang on your obliques and triceps as well.

So, why bother with lengthy, expensive workout programs?

Well, the simple answer is ACCOUNTABILITY. When you commit to a specialized workout program (say, by Jon Benson, John Romaniello, or Vince [or now Flavia as well] Delmonte), two things come into play. First, they separate you from your in a very real sense, you need to get the value from it. And it's absolutely worth the value, because second, they keep you on track.

You see, once you're committed to the workout, you have a schedule that's been laid out for you. You have a series of exercises and all you have to do is do as you're told. Granted most of these programs have far more explanation attached than most average people need (or really want, let's face it). But the plan itself is sound and worth every penny.

It's a checklist, instruction manual and goal sheet all rolled into one. And that's what workout programs are for. So even though you can certainly train through those four basic exercises on your own for free (without even joining a gym, I might add), once you've mastered them and find you need to keep yourself challenged, motivated and committed, you won't find any better technique or strategy than to bite into a professionally-designed workout system.

Because you need to be accountable to someone. Might as well be yourself.

Tip: Speaking of accountability, should you choose to jump into any new workout system, you might consider getting a friend involved. They don't have to do the workout with you (although a challenge is always good motivation). But you should owe them something if you skip a workout. Make it real (but affordable), and you'll be less likely to cheat as you go.


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