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How do you know your program is effective and working?

Should you be chronically sore? Should you be chronically fatigued? Should you be hungry all the time? Or should you feel so great you’ve forgotten the satisfying feeling of self inflicted soreness?

Which of these gives you the comforting signal that your exercise program is doing what you want it to; force adaptation?

In a world overwhelmed with ‘information overload’, all too often we let curiosity get the better of us and we find ourselves gravitating towards trusty old internet search engines. We want to know what credible figures think of the style of training we’ve adopted or are embarking on. We may read positive opinions on our training style, we may read negative viewpoints. Either way, this is (or can be) detrimental to our progress.


Because by questioning and second guessing your program, you subconsciously begin to lose faith in the program! 

Although it appears innocent initially, doing research as to others’ opinions of your program/training style does two major negatives………….

  1. It initiates a ‘spiral’ affect! The simple wonder of “Is this considered a good program?” – leads to follow up issues such as “(Insert name here) thinks it isn’t as effective as (Insert alternate routine here), therefore should I really be doing it?” This is the tip of the iceberg! A snowball of further doubts usually follows.
  2. Simplicity falls by the wayside! The simpler you keep things, the easier it is to comply. Instead of knuckling down and giving your program a good hard and honest effort, you compromise your effort by exerting needless energy towards worrying and querying the potential of the program!

And as I’ve mentioned many times; all worry does is over stimulate the production of cortisol. You’re inflicting pointless stress on yourself worrying whether or not your time is well spent. When the training itself should be your major stress stimulus! (Providing you’re recovering, this stress is a very good thing)

So what’s a simple strategy to comfort ourselves in the knowledge we’re on the right track?


Like everything in life, if there’s no balance. Things fall apart. Just like program design, you ideally want an equal ratio of pulling to pushing patterns. And just like exercise and recovery, you need adequate training stimulus + adequate recovery.

The equal balance between enthusiasm for training days and ‘rest’ days.

It’s as simple as that!

If you dread workout days, you could be overworking.

If you dread rest days, you could be underworking.

I find the perfect balance is an equal welcoming of work and rest. All too often people fixate on soreness as a major factor regarding the effectiveness of their training. This is true to a degree, although soreness will subside as you progress through a program – this is adaptation! All the presence of soreness is is an indicator that you did something your body isn’t “used to”. Soreness will come and go, try fixating on improving your performance instead of minor factors like post workout soreness.

Embrace both ends of the spectrum. 

If you’re looking forward to training as much as you are to rest, you’re in a pretty balanced position. Imbalances to this equation will only lead to you lacking enjoyment of your exercise.

A lack of enjoyment in exercise is the most paramount reason for many people’s diminished activity!

You shouldn’t dread exercise.

You shouldn’t want to exercise to excess, if you do, you’re not working hard enough.

It should be hard, it should be a challenge.

It should be balanced, it should be FUN!

If it’s done right, you’ll always be back for more. 

JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All

The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.

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