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Joining a gym is the easy part. But what holds a lot of people back is they don't know what to do once they get there. In fact planning a session or a longer-term training program isn't that hard. You can do it yourself, with a few simple rules.

As soon as you outgrow the cookie-cutter plan you got free with your membership, you're in a  quandary. The internet is full of ready-made workout plans, but since some of them are obviously aimed at people at least a hundred years older than you and others call for three hours of undulating drop sets of bench presses starting at 350lb and going up, it can be hard to figure out where you fit in. 

In fact, the business of programming a session or a longer term plan isn't rocket science. You can do it.

You'll have to throw a few things overboard first though.

First, say goodbye to WODs. Almost all of these are a substitute for a training plan. Because there's no consistency it's hard to know if you're getting better (more on that in a moment) and you're repeatedly doing loads of different movements. That doesn't make a lot of sense: there's no such thing as "muscle confusion," really, just confusion. Get good at some basic moves and you'll see results.

Second, say goodbye to wishful thinking. Facing the fact that you're not a genetically gifted athlete can be baiter pill to swallow but it frees you to achieve life-changing results in just a couple of hours a week once you start training for you, not the person you wish you were. 

Now we can start looking at how to build a training program that actually suits you.

We need to start with some questions.

  • If you had three wishes to do with health and fitness, what would you wish for? It can help to write them down.
  • What if you had two?
  • Finally, what if you only had one?

Now we're a lot closer to the answer to the most important question you need to answer about your training: what do you want?

You can have two simultaneous goals — so many males will have "lose fat and gain muscle" while many females will opt for "lose fat and tone." Note that this is the same wish phrased differently.

Now you know what you want, shall I tell you what you need?

In this order, you need:

  • Strength
  • Mobility
  • Muscle
  • General Physical Preparation

Of course, if you're a ballet dancer you don't need mobility advice from me. If you're a powerlifter you don't need strength advice from me. But you don't need my advice on how to program your training either. If you're not quite good at something quite athletic, and your fitness goals are general and to do with how you look and feel rather than  your performance at a particular sport, the above holds true.

How can the same things be true for everyone?

Because we all live the same sedentary lifestyles and the science supports the idea that we all need the same solutions to the same problems. Gaining strength enables you to train harder, accelerating fat loss. It's also exhausting, accelerating metabolism. Finally, serious strength work repartitions nutrients at the cellular level, making it far easier to lose fat and gain muscle. This effect is amplified when you do gain some muscle, incidentally. We all have the same crummy mobility — hunched shoulders, tight hamstrings, short hip flexors — because we all sit in chairs all day. And we all have awful GPP because we all drive everywhere. 

How does this feed into programming?

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