5 Golden Rules of a Proper Training Program
Your training program is one of the most important parts of your training overall. Training process is a very individual thing and, as logic follows, training programs are always very individual masterpieces. Or, at least, they should be.
So what is a training program? A training program is a specific structure of volume, intensity and exercise used in training, distributed over days and weeks of the cycle, allowing to achieve cumulative effect at the end of the cycle in a selected direction (exercise, distance). A knowledgeable and experienced coach can skillfully lead his/her athlete to a better performance level, better results and a longer career in sports. Majority of people, however, do not have the luxury of working with a professional coach and are left to make training decisions on their own.
Obtaining a good training plan is one of those decisions and choosing the right training program, or at least finding a legitimate one, is not the easiest of tasks. How do you decide what should be in your training plan? How do you judge the quality of an available training program and its effectiveness? I can’t endorse purchasing a training plan online as a downloadable static file, because that would only make sense if you plan to use it as a basic framework and will edit it weekly by following specific instructions and based on your training data. Simply following the numbers provided without any regard for your current data is ineffective and a waste of your time and effort.
There are no simple questions here and there are no simple answers. However, there a few golden rules that serve as a foundation for all proper and effective training programs and in the absence of a coach, keeping these basics in mind will help you make better choices and eventually get better results.
It should go without saying that any training regimen simply must include your chosen sport’s technique work. Whether you’re running, swimming or cycling – you must regularly do technique drills. Sports like football, basketball or baseball however would require technique work for running AND throwing. If that was done right, there would not be so many ankle, knee & shoulder injuries. Your biggest improvement and progress will be the result of your technique work. It is a gateway that allows you to unlock your full potential. You might be built for speed or endurance but if you’re constantly injured you’re not going too far or too fast.
Here are 5 golden rules that will help you stay on the right track.
1. Training Program Must Have a Proper Duration
Majority of people start looking for a training program when they decide to enter a race. Others want a training plan to simply have a good regimen to follow to stay fit instead of doing something on some days hoping to get some kind of effect. So you will need to decide what your goal is and then figure out the time frame that it gives you. If you’re working with a particular target date – your training plan should be aimed at that date locking you into a certain time frame and giving you a particular number of days/weeks/months to achieve your goal. Your entire plan – its structure, volume and type of training involved should be based around that main event.
Now, if you’re looking to simply stay fit – then your plan should give you more options to choose from because you’re free from time constraints. In this case, your time frame is indefinite, but keep in mind that 4 or more months planned ahead don’t make much sense because a good and effective training plan reflects athlete’s current condition and progress, or lack thereof of course. Optimal length of the training cycle is about 4 weeks (that’s just one month), which is the length that allows to accomplish a specific goal. Notice that it also resembles a natural cycle of about 28-30 days.
2. Training Program Must Have a Sufficient Number of Rest Days
Training doesn’t mean doing something all the time. There has to be a proper balance between your training and rest days. Too much action and not enough rest time is a bad formula and is a one way ticket to exhaustion. Majority do well with 3-4 days of training a week, some professional athletes need up to 7 days of training per week and sometimes twice a day. Whatever number of days you train right now, if you experience any of the signs listed in this article – reduce your training volume right-away, you’re overtraining.
3. Training Program Must Have a Warm Up & Cool Down
Any good training session starts with a warm up. It’s an important part of the overall training process and is a necessity, it cannot be treated as an option. It is smart to start with a warm up and get your body and mind ready for a good focused effort. Obviously it only makes sense to wrap up with a cool down to let yourself get back to normal, to let all your systems slowly adjust. Cooling down part of training is a very good time to do some flexibility, by the way. A training program without a cool down part is not a complete training program.
4. Training Program Must Have Strength & Flexibility Included
These are not fashionable or trendy things that were popular last summer. These must be included in training regimens on regular basis. Without adequate and proper strength developed you will be subjected to injuries and mediocre performance. Developing and maintaining flexibility helps extremely well in achieving better performance results also. Work on your technique, strength and flexibility should be regular and balanced, but with emphasis on technique.
5. Training Program Must be Updated Regularly
A lot can happen in just one week of training and whatever it is, it will require an adjustment to your training regimen. It is recommended to review the original training schedule against the actual training done and results accomplished, and then implement changes on weekly basis to achieve best results. This is one of the most difficult parts of working with training programs and unfortunately cannot really be done without a coach. You could try and switch around some numbers, repetitions, etc., you could try to go by what feels right to you, but doing that without knowledge will produce no definite results or improvements. So if you’re training for a particular event – it is recommended to obtain a proper training program. If you’re training just to stay fit- you have a lot more leeway for error and could getaway with minor errors.
I always recommend training with a coach and obtaining a proper training plan whether you’re on a mission preparing for a race or not. You might just be pleasantly surprised with your results and achievements!
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Understanding and improving running training is part of the Pose Method Certification Course. Designed for health and fitness professionals, it is also a great starting point for anyone looking to become a coach. This seminar offers 16 CE hours towards continuing education for Physical Therapists.