Finding the right program can be incredibly tricky. Not only do you have to factor in what your goals are, but you have to think about how much time you can dedicate to exercising, whether you can support the program with your nutrition, and most importantly, whether you’re actually going to enjoy the program. Many people focus on the first factor whilst forgetting the next two which is why the end up plateauing.
Now, when choosing an online program, you first need to think about exactly what your goals are. If you want to gain weight, then how much? If you want to lose fat, then how much? If you’re looking to gain strength, what lifts do you want to build strength on? And what sort of target are you looking for?
You need to be truly honest with yourself about what you want as there’s no point in completing a program that you think you ‘should’ do but doesn’t actually support your specific goals.
In order for a program to be as effective as possible, you need to factor in what your lifestyle is like around your training sessions. You could be put on the best program there is, but if it’s designed for an elite powerlifter or marathon runner, then your lifestyle simply isn’t going to be able to support that.
So, when deciding on a program, make sure to think about the following:
- Sleep: sleep is the time when we recover most. With a poor sleep schedule, both our mood and performance declines. If you know your sleep can’t always be the best, a lower intensity program is recommended.
- Diet: how dedicated are you to your diet to get the goals you want? The more intense the program is, the more you’ll need to think about what you’re eating.
- Stress: stress highly affects how we can perform. If you’re under a high workload or going through a rough patch, then also including strenuous exercise on top of that means that your body will eventually become weak and drained.
Lastly, we have the most important factor when deciding a workout program: are you actually going to enjoy it? Forcing yourself through gruelling workouts and making yourself hate exercise isn’t worth any goal. Not to mention, you’ll most likely end up dropping off and abandoning the program midway through because you can’t mentally support yourself.
It sounds silly, but always make sure that you’re actually going to like the program you’re doing. Does it include the right exercises? Does it have the right rep ranges and volume? Does it support your favoured style? If all of these answers are yes, then you’re good to go.
Founder of calisthenics-101.co.uk. Training calisthenics since 2012.
Currently working on: 30 second one-arm handstand, muscle-up 360, straddle planche.