Programs vs. Workouts

Programs vs. Workouts


We are often known at Results Fitness for saying that we write programs, not just workouts. But what exactly do we mean by this? What in the heck is the big difference between a program and a workout?

Well, a program is your overall training plan that is written based on a goal. Plan being the key operating word here. A workout is a part of this plan, and the proper sequencing of multiple workouts or daily training sessions is a portion of programming. A workout is simply what you may be doing on any given training day. Looked at purely by itself, without respect to the overall plan, the workout itself doesn’t really amount to or mean all that much.

Periodization is a term that is frequently defined differently by many people, but I think that most would agree that it could be boiled down to mean using structured planning and manipulation of training variables to achieve a desired training response over a certain time period.

When we sit down to write a program we look at the big picture first, figure out where the client wants to go, and then figure out a rough idea of how long it will take to get there. From here, we can create an overall long-term periodization plan, which is our macro-cycle (in traditional periodization terms.) We like this to be a minimum of 12-16 weeks but it can be, and often is, outlined out for 10-12 months or longer. After we have determined this, we can now start to get a bit more specific and will chunk things down to our meso-cycles, which are typically 4-6 week blocks/phases of time. From here we get even more specific and plan out our particular training weeks or micro-cycles. Finally, we break it down further and write each individual training day (or workout if you prefer) where we choose exercises, tempos, rest periods, etc.

You can see how we start with the big picture first, then break things all the way down to the individual workout level lastly. Most trainers will typically start in the opposite manner and start with a mentality of “What I am going to do today?” and design a random workout for an individual day without any regard to what the long-term plan is. This is a poor approach as we want to be able to attain expected results that we get from executing our plans, and not have these results happen as a side effect from a random workout.

To learn more details on how we put this all together, please join us for our upcoming Program Design Seminar at Results Fitness on July 9th & 10th.