What program are you on, and does it really matter? By: Gunnar Thompson CSCS; NASM-CPT, PES, CES; CPPS
I have some news for you: it does NOT matter what program you are on or following. Don’t get me wrong, I used to believe the program that I followed was all that mattered. I was confident that the number of sets, reps, throws, and pitches were the secret sauce that would separate me from all others. I thought, if I could just optimize my program, I would be better than everyone. I wrote everything down. I had a plan going forward. It was PERFECT! Until, things changed.
My body changed. I felt good some days, bad others, and somewhere in between most of the time. There were some days when I was scheduled to go all out—max effort—yet, I physically felt like crap. But it was on my program, so I did it anyways.
My lifestyle changed. Some days I stayed up later at night. Other days I would have other things to do besides train. That's life. But I would literally change everything else to accommodate my workouts because it was my planned program. This led to a lot of internal conflicts.
So here's what I realized from all the trial and error and the numerous seminars I attended by people a lot smarter than me. It's not the program that matters, but rather the system! No, this is not a play on words that can be used interchangeably. There are distinct differences.
A program is a single strict series of exercises, sets, reps, and throws. A system is a series of multiple programs that can be used to achieve a specific goal. A system allows progressions and regressions based on how an athlete feels that day, but it still works toward the specific goal. It is called auto-regulation, a word that I learned from CPPS by Joe DeFranco and Jim Smith. For something to work, it must adapt on a monthly, daily, and even on an exercise by exercise basis. Something Ron Wolforth explains really well is the idea that we want to create adaptable athletes not adapted athletes. It is easy to write a program and follow it to a T, but does it really give you the best chance for success?
At Oates Specialties, we get questions such as “Do you have instructions with your products?” on a daily basis. I get it. People like to be told what to do and what to follow. Coaches like to implement a program they found to a “T” because, well, it is easier. It is easy for me to write a program that is thoroughly detailed and planned, but is that really what is best for the athletes? After listening to great minds like Ron Wolforth, Frans Bosch, Randy Sullivan, Joe DeFranco, Jim Smith, Mike Robertson, Joel Jamieson, Louie Simmons and Eric Cressey, I realized why they are the best coaches. They develop a system that they can modify, enhance, or evolve based on each individual athlete.
So I told you programs don’t matter, and you should follow a system. How does this help you right now? This should spur some thought. You should want to do your own research, and come up with a system for you or your athlete. If you want the easy way out, follow a program. If you really want to be your best or help your athletes reach their best, it is time to put in the work and do your research or go to someone who does their homework and has a system in place like the names mentioned above.
Be Unique and #BeELITE!