A comprehensive systematic plan
When designing a program, there are many things to take into account and some things must come before others. For example, before we lift weights we must make sure the joints are stable and capable of handling the load, the muscles are capable of stretching and allowing the joints to get into the right position, and the nervous system is sending the proper signal to the right muscles.
If we have been sitting down, and not moving around much our body has adapted to that lifestyle and if we don't adequately prepare our body for exercise we are setting ourselves up for failure. I heard a good quote a long time ago and I forget who said it but was something like "don't run to get fit, get fit so that you can run." It left an impression on me because I had been working as a trainer for some time and I would see so many people come off the couch and into the gym, they would bust their ass trying to lose weight as quickly as possible and so many of them would end with injuries.
I believe the fitness industry is partly responsible for this, and take part of the blame myself. We glamorize the high intensity exercises like the olympic lifts, and for marketing purposes we say things like "lose 10 pounds in 10 days." If you have not been working out in a while, trying to do an olympic lift or drastically decrease body-fat is a horrible idea. I have also made the mistake of giving clients what they wanted as opposed to what they needed. I had a hard time in the past slowing things down and doing it the proper way. The intense drill sergeant trainers that did crazy circuit training always seems to get more clients than me and I would get frustrated by that and try to incorporate that into my training.
As I learned more and became more confident in my training I realized the importance of training people the right way, following a systematic comprehensive approach and staying true to myself and my beliefs.
In the beginning we focus on flexibility and mobility. This allows us to move more efficiently, allows our joints to get into the correct position, and enables us to re-train movement patterns.
Then we train the nervous system. This is done through balance exercises and bodyweight movements/positions. Training the nervous system is important because the nervous system is what controls the muscles, if we are sending a poor signal to the muscles how can we effectively train the muscles?
After we begin to move properly, then we can start adding a load, changing the speed, and combining movements. I think it is ridiculous to expect someone to perform a loaded back squat after many years of sedentary movement. I am a fan of crossfit, I love heavy deadlifts, I am amazed by what gymnasts can do, but I am also aware of how difficult that stuff is and the amount of training required to get to that stage. We must crawl before we can walk.
After that we can now begin doing circuits if we want to decrease body-fat, we can start loading up the weights if we want to gain muscle, we can begin jumping around on boxes to improve vertical leap, or we can begin running around for better cardio. I understand that the basics of flexibility and mobility are hard to market but it is a critically important step, and there is a reason we enjoy watching sports. And I believe that reason is we realize how incredible these athletes really are, how much time and effort they have spend getting to that level. I have had the pleasure of working with many top notch athletes and I found it interesting how in tune, and aware of their bodies they were, and they understood how important it was to follow the proper steps and take care of their body, because one mistake could result in a career ending injury.
WHY FOCUS ON MOVEMENT INSTEAD OF THE TRADITIONAL EXERCSIES
Discovery of movement
Over the years of training I began to notice a disconnect between what people were doing at the gym to get in shape and what athletes were doing to perfect their craft. I don't know many dancers that bench press. No disrespect to the bench press, for some goals it is important, but we need to be selective in our movements to produce the desired results. Long gone are the days where workouts copy the bodybuilders routine. If you want to look like a dancer, you should eat and move like a dancer. If you want to look like a gymnast, you should and eat and move like a gymnast, and if you want to look like a bodybuilder, you should eat and move like a bodybuilder.
The entire fitness industry was created by bodybuilders. I have a tremendous amount of respect for bodybuilders, and if they had not set the stage I would not be in this position. Bodybuilders train to put on as much muscle mass as humanly possible on to their frame. The exercise selection, diet, cardio, and supplements are all geared towards gaining as much muscle as possible. When the competition is around the corner they switch the program and turn it into an aggressive "cutting" phase. They stop eating carbs, increase cardio, decrease calories and go through emotional hell to decrease body-fat before stepping on stage. If you have ever talked to a body builder or physique competitor before they compete you know what I am talking about. I have worked with bodybuilders that would have to listen to heavy metal music before eating their bland chicken and broccoli meal.
They are extreme athletes and they have an insane amount of self discipline. Unless that is our goal we should not be following that style of programming. And I believe its important to be informed before copying their methods for reducing body-fat. UFC competitors will sometimes drop 10 pounds in 24 hours before a fight, but we don't copy them, so unless you are going to become a bodybuilder I would advise an alternative method.
My job is to teach you that method by discovering the movement patterns that are specific to your goal. The weight routine, cardio, flexibility and diet should be aligned properly with what you are looking to do. My job is to teach you these methods and movements.
"Our physique is a direct result of our movement patterns and diet."
As Gray Cook says "Move well and then move often."