Strength training has become increasingly popular in recent years as people recognize the benefits of building lean muscle mass. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced fitness enthusiast, choosing the right strength training program can be a daunting task. With so many options available, it can be challenging to know which program is right for you.
In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of selecting the perfect strength training program. We will explore the different types of strength training programs available, such as bodyweight training, powerlifting, and Olympic lifting, and help you determine which one is the best fit for your goals and fitness level.
We will also provide tips for evaluating the effectiveness of a strength training program, including what to look for in a reputable trainer or program. Additionally, we will discuss the importance of proper nutrition, sleep, and recovery when embarking on a strength training program, as these factors can significantly impact your results.
Whether your goal is to build muscle mass, increase strength, or improve overall fitness, this blog post will provide you with the tools and knowledge necessary to select a strength training program that will help you achieve your desired results. By the end of this post, you will have a clear understanding of how to choose the right strength training program and set yourself up for success.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A STRENGTH-TRAINING PROGRAM
Since there are so many strength-training programs out there to choose from, here are some things to consider when looking for the right program for you and your personal fitness goals.
It’s easy to be misled by social media photos that show images of fitness results that aren’t actually authentic.
Look for a professional fitness program or instructor that has evidence of helping clients get the same results that you want to achieve. And look for instructors or programs that have plenty of experience, up-to-date training, and ongoing education.
Find weight-training programs that demonstrate progression, adding more reps and weight over the course of the program so that you are making progress throughout the duration of the program.
Programs that demonstrate beginner and advanced versions of the weight-lifting exercises are great. They show you how to adapt and modify your weightlifting workout to match your fitness level and inspire you by showing you what to strive for as you make progress.
Viewing a list of the specific weight lifting exercises for each training day, the weekly schedule, and a video demonstration of the workout will help you know if it’s a strength training program that is right for you.
The right program will be easy to understand for your level and offer some guidance. Programs shouldn’t require a lot of prep to understand the basics of the workout.
It should be very clear what the program is focusing on and what the goals are.
The weight-training program should target all body parts and include weight-training exercises that are built on movement patterns – including pushing, pulling, squatting, and hinging.
These movements can be included in many exercises targeting both upper and lower body strength, including full core fitness.
If you have specific goals that favor one part of the body – like a “glutes program” – look for a strength training program that includes a well-balanced weight-lifting routine so that you’re still getting a full-body workout.
Example of a strength training program without a full-body approach: A “beach body” program that targets arms and chest, neglecting lower body strength. Or a “booty” program that centers on glutes isolation exercises but doesn’t do any progressive strength in full-body movements.
#8 Free weights
Look for a strength training program that focuses on using free weights – barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells – over machines. Machine-only programs can be suitable for beginners as they learn about the proper movements, but in general, it’s best to use free weights as they target more muscle groups with each movement.
ABOVE-AVERAGE STRENGTH TRAINING PROGRAMS
If you find a strength training program that also offers these perks, consider it an above-average program:
Individual attention – programs that structure the plan around your fitness level and goals, providing room for progress and growth and making proper adjustments based on your feedback.
Unilateral work – strengthening exercises should help your body develop evenly and compensate for weaker muscles or areas. Multi-joint exercises – like lunges and one-arm press – are great ways to develop balance and adjust strength levels to help weaker sides grow stronger.
Encourages confidence – a good program will boost your confidence and feeling of autonomy and self-sufficiency in your training. With time, you will grow to understand your body more, mastering skills and weight training techniques and progressing from one level to the next, which is fantastic progress and should be celebrated!
WHAT TO AVOID WHEN CHOOSING A STRENGTH TRAINING PROGRAM
Polarizing language – The person selling or hosting the program says things like things are “bad” or “unhealthy” and places a lot of fear around wellness and fitness. If a coach is positioning themself as the hero and making you feel like you can’t achieve your goals without their help…it’s not a good program to choose.
Unrealistic reviews – Reading feedback from previous program users can help you decide if it’s the right fit, but be aware of transformation stories that appear fake or compromised.
Over-promising – whenever programs promise fast results or “losing x lbs in 10 days”, that’s not an authentic approach. Everybody is different, so it’s impossible to promise specific results based on a universal program.
BEFORE YOU MAKE A FINAL DECISION…
By now, you might have a few programs in mind and are debating which one to commit to. Keep these final thoughts in mind while you go through the decision-making process.
Know how much time you can realistically commit to a program. If some programs are set up for six days a week, but you are free to fit in three workouts a week, then opt for a program that matches your availability.
Know what type of equipment you will need for the program. Make sure you have the required equipment by the time the program starts or are able to modify the routine with what you have access to in a way that will still allow you to progress.
Don’t have all of the equipment?
If you only have two sets of dumbbells and the program is asking you to increase your weights over 2-3 months time, you will need to
- get additional weights
- opt for adjustable weights
- do your workouts at a gym where free weights are readily available
- add resistance bands to your weights to add more resistance
Know that your accomplishment does not depend on the weight training program. Your success lies in the continuity of your fitness journey and feeling good about prioritizing your health and wellness. Celebrate the small wins every week to keep a positive mindset around your path to fitness.