Finding the right training program can be like finding a needle in a hay stack, even though it should be as simple as buying food from the shops. This is in part due to the internet, it has been revolutionary in helping health and fitness professionals share their knowledge. Although, unfortunately not all information is created equally. This is why trying to find the right program for you is like finding that needle, it’s out there you just have to find it.
Dan John, a pronounced strength and conditioning coach, once said “keep the goal, the goal”, what he was referring to was make sure your training reflects the goals you want to achieve. Lets say you want to run a marathon, how much swimming do you think you need to do to get through a marathon? Now swimming could be a part of a running program (as a recovery session) but if it was 90% of your training you likely wouldn’t be getting much better at running a marathon. Dan also said “throwers throw, runners run”. This brings us the a key concept in strength and conditioning and that’s specificity.
When you a searching the hay stack for your program keep in mind specificity, does the program train what you need to be training to achieve your goal? If the answer is no or only a little bit this is the wrong program for you. If you really like a program but find it isn’t working for you then you may need to re-assess your goals. Now when looking for specificity we must be careful of being too specific as well, for example wanting to improve your 2 kilometre time trial by always running 2km time trials is not a great way to train. You need to run so you are creating a progressive overload, this may mean you do intervals at a higher intensity than you can running a 2km time trial or running 5km to build your capacity (endurance) to work on sustain your effort for a longer period of time.
When looking for a program also check out if other people have done the program and achieved what you would like to achieve. A lot of the time we don’t need to re-invent the wheel, if it has worked before for 100 people it will likely work for you as well. Again we have to be careful as so called “fitness gurus” will try to sell you your own teeth to make some money, in this case look at the creator of the program. Do they have good credentials (university qualified, post graduate studies, 10+ years coaching experience, worked at a semi/professional level)?, have they coached/trained similar people to you (have they coached athletes in your sport)?
Next time you’re looking for a new program use this check list, see it as your metal detector to find that needle in the haystack;
- Identify and write down your goals, what do you want achieve?
- Does the coach have good credentials?
- Does the coach have experience training athletes similar to you?
- Can the coach provide evidence of them helping athletes similar to you, achieve their goals?
- Do they provide help and guidance through the program?