Plan – Record – Analyse
Having both a plan and records of what was achieved allows you to analyse your performance and learn for future success.
This process is common in all forms of business, professional sports and health clubs. Whether you’re looking to make your training more satisfying, see ongoing improvements or find a solution to your fitness plateau, these three steps can help.
1. Plan your Workouts
Used by Professional Endurance Sports and Strength Conditioning Coaches, fitness plans serve to provide direction and pace you for ongoing success.
Those who are not getting the results they desire frequently fall into one of two categories:
If you’re the type to train yourself into the ground, but prone to injuries or fitness plateaus then following a workout plan could help. A workout plan which is based on your fitness condition can ensure that you stick to the correct intensities. This means using only the prescribed exercises, reps, sets and weights which will give you the right workout on any given day.
Over training is a common cause of illness, injury and burnout so it’s important to get your volumes and intensities right. Get them wrong and you’re more likely to encounter enforced recovery periods which lead to a significant loss of the results you worked so hard for in the first place.
If you’d just like to do the bare minimum to get the results you want then a good workout plan can help ensure that the time you do dedicate to fitness is moving you towards your goals. It’s very easy to finish a gym workout earlier than you’d originally intended because the changing room is probably less than a minute’s walk away.
Having to constantly decide what to do next increases the chance you’ll finish your workout early or choose an intensity which is not optimal for your current condition. A good workout plan will tell you what needs to be done in any given workout so you know that if you can just complete the prescribed reps and sets then you’ve done what was required, no more, no less.
Planning your Training
First decide what type of training you’d like to do to achieve your goals. Plan out what days you’ll be doing each workout and schedule them into your weekly routine. Next plan what will happen in each type of workout. Decide on the exercises you’ll do and how much time you have to dedicate to the sessions in that workout.
A good workout plan will detail everything you need to follow when you’re at the gym, leaving you with as few decisions to make as possible while you workout. It’s important that you dedicate your focus on performing each rep as well as you can and that your recovery is not spent trying to figure out whether you’re using the right weight.
The Magic is in the Details
Periodising every rep, set and weight for each session in your programme can take a lot of time if you’re doing it on paper and while copy and paste saves time in a spreadsheet there are a lot of cells to change if you want any variation or progress in your plans.
A good programme should start at a level you’re comfortable with and progress at a rate which challenges you some weeks, then allows you to recover and reap the rewards on other weeks.
The most common causes of boredom, plateaus and burnout are consistently training at high volumes and intensities, without allowing the body to repair through easy weeks. Plan to start with a relatively easy week, increase the volume in weeks two and three then drop it back in week 4 so that your body gets a chance to repair.
Repeat this process each month and you’ll progress slow but consistently until you’ve mastered that particular set of exercises. Start the process again with a new workout routine every 8-12 weeks to ensure you make the most of your ability to perform big volumes, thanks to the first 4 weeks.
Designing a programme with accurate workout plans is fast and easy with GymCalc. You can input the reps, sets and weights yourself or have them suggested by the GymCalc intelligent engine.
GymCalc uses the process described above to keep you progressing and because the weights are based on your strength levels you’ll always work at the prescribed intensities of your plan.
2. Record your Training
Doctors, dentists and most other health practitioners record their interactions and prescriptions for patients so they can make better decisions in future consultations.
Without these records, they have little chance of remembering what happened in a previous appointment. Even though most of us exercise more often than we see a doctor, there are far more variables to record from a single workout than your average doctor’s appointment.
The most important details to record include the date, exercises, reps, sets and weights/progression level for unweighted exercises. By knowing these details in your next session you can approach it with a better expectation of how it’s going to go.
Exercise Completion Ratings
Rating the difficulty of each exercise is a great way to see how hard you are finding the workouts as well as individual exercises. It provides valuable information to whoever maintains your programmes by allowing them to see which exercises, workouts, programmes and session are causing the greatest stress in your training.
Fatigue Before Training (FBT)
Rating the fatigue you feel before you start a training session is a fast and effective way of keeping track of any over-training symptoms. Symptoms which could push your FBT up could include:
- muscle soreness
- stress from work or family
- lack of sleep
- a niggling injury flair up
- cold or flu symptoms
Recording every variable of a workout is easy with GymCalc. Everything is stored online so cannot be misplaced, and your data can be analysed through tables and graphs.
3. Analyse your Training
Comparing your actual recorded training to the original details in your programme can provide important clues in your attempts to achieve the optimal gains from the time you dedicate to fitness.
Use Analysis to Answer some Important Questions
How much training should I do?
The answer is different for everybody and mostly based on your exercise history. This is why following a programme made for someone else or everyone else will not necessarily work for you. The best way to learn how much is right for you is by putting together plans based on weight to lift or distances to cover in training, then performing and rating them.
By doing so you’ll soon learn what volumes you can deal with and what leads to the best results. If you don’t feel confident creating the plans yourself then ask someone else to do it but make sure they’re taking your personal fitness level into consideration and actually analysing how your body and mind responded to the programme.
Why do I get sick or injured all the time?
The majority of minor illnesses such as colds and flu or chronic injuries such as a niggling kneecap or shoulder can be traced back to a period of overtraining/under recovering.
If your technique is good and you’re looking after yourself in the time you’re not training then there’s a good chance that the strain you’re putting on your system in training is too high. Sounds obvious right, but if you haven’t actually quantified and recorded that strain then how are you supposed to learn what is too much.
Analyse what you were doing in the weeks before your first symptoms and you’ll find the answer to why you’re getting sick or injured.
Improve Fitness Programme Adherence
If the programme was followed diligently then it can lead to improvements to future programmes because you can see how the variables effected your body and performances.
If the programme was not followed then it can help to understand why it’s important to stick to the programme. Sometimes the programme needs to be changed to suit a change in goals or your condition. In such a situation, it’s important to make the changes to the rest of the programme or abort the programme in favour of a new one.
These options are far more effective than deciding to wing it and do as you feel should work on the day.
To your Training Success
The Plan – Record – Analyse process allows you to learn from your training and optimise for future success. You’ll know where your training is going, be able to look back on what you’ve done and compare just how successful a programme was in helping you achieve your desired results.
GymCalc was built to streamline this process so you can create programmes fast, record training without having to enter high volumes of data and analyse your performance against the plan within seconds of saving your training records.
If you’re a personal trainer GymCalc can help you provide this process by offering your clients great programmes, allowing you to keep track of the records they take and to discuss the analysis in your consultations.
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