A good program is both interesting and progressive.

Having both these elements speaks to an athletes’ adherence over a long period of time, perhaps the most important variable in any physical practice – consistency.

On the one hand, a program must be interesting. An interesting program keeps the athlete excited and inspired to train especially given that most of training is doing uncomfortable and sometimes monotonous things. An interesting program keeps the athlete bought into the process, particularly on the days he/she least wants to show up. An interested mind is an open mind  and therefore the likelihood of learning or having new experiences is enhanced. Enjoyment is also a by-product of this process. However, if a training program is biased in this direction, measurable improvement becomes randomised; what is interesting is not always what is best to encourage adaptation.

Progress, on the other hand, is paramount in a given training program’s adherence. Ultimately we train to progress; to get results and objective data is a way to assess a program’s effectiveness. If a training program isn’t providing you with positive adaptation, then showing up to “work” starts to feel a little like Groundhog Day: the same weights on the bar, the same amount of reps. Day in, day out… Because of this, the program should adhere to sound strength and conditioning principles: progressive overload, specificity, variety etc. A program purely oriented towards progress can become mundane and boring; repetition is needed to adapt.

As athletes, maybe you are not writing your own program. But you do have the power to influence and adjust your own training practice within one. Create space in a program – be it your own or someone elses – for it to be both interesting and progressive. Some days you train with the intent to have fun, to learn, and to be intrigued, and others, to continue moving the needle forward. Doing so consistently is a recipe for sustainable adaptation.

Serge Houhlias
CFH Coach

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