Thoughts From the End of the Bench #2

So you’re ready to get after it. You have a goal in mind and you can’t wait to get started. Now what? How do you turn your goal and your motivation into results? More than anything else, you need a plan. A workout plan is like a roadmap to your goal. It will keep you pointed in the right direction, help you when you feel lost, and it provides benchmarks along your path. That all sounds really cheesy, but sometimes things are cheesy and true. Let me give you my reasons I use workout plans:

  • I never have to wonder what I should do for my workout. Sure, some people are creative and well-versed enough to come up with a new workout every day, but for most of us it is way easier to just look at the calendar and see exactly what the workout is.
  • It keeps me honest. There are days when I don’t want to do it. But when that workout calendar is staring at me, I can’t ignore it. It follows me around, nagging me. But when I know I’m responsible for doing that workout on that day, I just have to do it.
  • It keeps me focused. Tony Horton can get a little annoying, but he always says, “Write it down.” He’s right. If you keep a journal and follow the plan, you will know where you were and where you are, and that helps keep you focused on where you want to be.
  • It keeps me motivated. When I have a defined finish date, it helps keep that fire burning. If there is no finish line, it can be hard to stay motivated.

So which workout plan do you choose? That is a trickier question, and it has many possible answers. The short answer is that you just have to pick one. Until you understand your own body and how it responds to different types of training, a lot of it is trial and error. So I’m not going to sit here and tell you which workout you should do, and why it is better than every other workout in the history of working out. If you start a workout, give it time, be committed, and try to see it through. However, if it is obvious that it isn’t working because of time constraints, injury problems, or boredom, then don’t be afraid to start a new one. I don’t have my own plan to give you, but I will share the ones that I’ve done that have worked for me:

  • P90X: Tony Horton is a cheese-ball, but he designed an effective 12 week workout plan that will get you in shape. You don’t even need the videos for the weight workouts. (I also prefer to use Insanity for cardio if I’m doing this program, it’s just a better workout.) Plan on 90 minutes out of your day to do this right.
  • Men’s Fitness Cover Model Workout : It is perhaps the stupidest name you can think of, but it also has a good mix of exercises. It is less time consuming than P90X. The cardio portion is a bit lacking, so you have to be creative on your own with this. Plan on 60 minutes out of your day. (I’m not sure if this book is still available.)
  • Maximum Fitness: The Complete Guide to Cross Training: Stew Smith is an ex-Navy Seal who has written a bunch of books to prepare for BUD/S. But this program is probably the best overall workout that I have ever done. It will not lead to bulking up, but you will never be more fit overall in your whole life. It is actually four 12-week cycles, each a little different than the last. The only downside is the time commitment. Workouts can be 2 hours, and a few even take longer.

So do some homework, pick one that looks like it matches your goals, and go for it.

And one more thing…When you read over the workout, it should look a little bit scary. If the workout on week 8 or 9 doesn’t look hard to you, you’re probably not picking the right workout. If you’re not a little bit scared, you’re not pushing yourself enough. By the time week 9 rolls around, you’ll be ready. I promise.


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