T Nation

Does Program Matter?

I was a highly mediocre athlete in high school and college, so that took care of most my training foundation. Another point that was really relevant to my assumptions that I didn’t put in above - I truly don’t know how someone could just start at 30 if they don’t have some kind of background; that would be tough.

After that I was in the Army and did mostly CrossFit-style things (plus curls, obviously).

In real life, I’m a corporate drone and I travel a lot (or did, before the world ended). I fell in love almost to a fault with John Meadows’ stuff because I felt like my joints could handle it and it was really friendly to commercial gyms. That probably explains a lot of my bias on programming, too: I think you lose very little just copying his YouTube videos on any given day vs following of his programs. That said, I already had at least enough of a background that I actually wanted to squat, etc.

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Yeah, I wish the world worked that way. Truth is most people prefer going to the chubby personal trainer or taking dating advice from the guys who haven’t had a date in years.


Man, this has always baffled me. You’ll see a decent looking trainer at commercial gyms every now and then, but for the most part, I think they look like shit. Plenty that look like they’ve never touched a weight in their life. I know there are a lot of really good trainers/coaches out there that don’t necessarily look the part, but… they’re also not 20 years old, lol.

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what is with the chubbiness…spelling? I am not a personal trainer, but a soccer coach. Most coaches in our sport are chubby. Most young coaches in my area are very fit, yet their results are not very good. Coaching is mostly people skills and ability to teach, discipline and motivate, not looks. The majority of soccer coaches have not been top footballers. They are just good at coaching.

Does program matter? A little, yes, but moreover, no.

I can bog down and high center something fierce on program considerations. Twice in my lifting life, I’ve swerved a hard right, doing what I FELT like instead of what I thought I “should do”. Both escapades into the World of Wants yielded better results and more enjoyable training sessions than nearly any “ought to” program. More details to come when I’m more awake.

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What many people are not programs but just routines with lists of exercises, sets and reps. An actual program has some progression methodology and some type of periodization. Routines are easy to find.


80% of the current top coaches were excellent footballers -Guardiola, Ancelotti, Antonio Conte.etc

The exception are Bill Belichick equivalent guys like Tuschel (and he’s shredded/def not chubby)

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This thread came to mind when I was watching the USPA powerlifting meet stream this weekend. A girl who trains at my gym ended up winning best female overall lifter (Sam). She literally does not run a program, at all. No coach. And she’s the best in the world right now, lol.

But, she’s also the exception, not the rule. Most the highest level lifters I know in powerlifting DO run programs of some sort, and most have coaches.

Just thought I’d share that, she fucking killed it! (551/357/602) competing in the 198 class, and weighing in at 191!


Does it have to be written by someone else to be a “program”?

Does it even have to be written down? Or can the stuff you do just be considered “Your Program”?

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Not at all.

I don’t think there is much of a defense for not writing down what you do, at least in terms of muscle/strength building. You can do fine for a little while going on the premise of “I know what I lifted last week”, but you have no metrics to know if you’re stagnant or adversely impacted by training organization (or anything else for that matter).

Anecdotal Evidence: Boat captains have Captain’s Logs so they know where they were, when they were there, and which direction they were going. This is done in case they get lost - they can use this information (and a map!) to see where they should be based on what they have done… This can also be used to see if they turned left when they should have turned right.

It’s hard to adjust course if you weren’t on a course to start with.


It seems most successful lifters have something in common. They lift more over time. More being weight, and or volume. Stuff like tempo can come into play.

If recording your lifts helps you accomplish this, then it is a great tool. If running a program helps you with this, then it is a great tool.

In my early lifting days, I made it a goal to record all lifts, and to make each lift either be for slightly more weight, or slightly more volume. I still take this approach, but I can’t do it for every single lift for every session. Some lifts are on maintenance, while I try to progress 2-3 lifts consistently in each session.


Side step in the tread sorry:

A lot of respect to her. That is some serious strength.


I need to go back to my safe space.


To me, a program just means you’ve already laid out a set/rep/exercise scheme for a particular session, week, whatever, and you follow it. It basically just means ‘planned exercise parameters’. So like, right now, when I go to the gym, I have a decent idea of what I’m going to do on a given day, but I gauge all the details based on how my warm ups feel, energy level, etc. And then after my main lifts, I’ll make decisions on what accessory work I’ll do. And I kind of just do whatever it takes to feel like I’m done at the end. Right now, I know that I’m going to do presses twice a week, deadlifts/back/leg stuff once a week, and I’ll throw in a fourth day of whatever if I have time.

This is not a program, lol.

Now, If every session I knew I was going to do x y and z lifts, and I had a prescribed range for sets/reps for each one, that’s enough to constitute a program. A program can have a lot of flexibility to it, but there has to be at least a basic structure to it to qualify. Like, ‘arm day, chest day, back day, leg day is not a program’. It doesn’t meet that minimum threshold.

I think it’s the 6th best total for a woman in any weight class ever in ‘raw/no wraps’ (just going by what I read, anyone can correct me if I’m wrong). Pretty astounding for it to come from someone under 200 lbs. That’s a bigger total than I put up at the only meet I did.


80 % is very exagarated - Klopp was e mediocre footballer, Gasperini as well, Allegri too, Nagelsman is not a professional footballer. Ferguson was a decent player, but his coaching career is what people know him for. Brendan Rogers is a similar example. Jose Mourinho’s career as a footballer is described as uneventful in Wikipedia. Sarri did not play professional football. Arsene Wenger, Sven Goran Ericson, Avram Grant, Andre Villas Boas, Ragnick, Houllier, Parreira, Hodgson, Even one of the greatest Sacchi did not play pro football.

Speaking of training programs, any recommendations for a good book that details a programing methodology that can be utilized for a long period of time?
Long-term goals are improving strength, increasing lean body mass, and improving running endurance. Short-term (6-12 month) goals are to decrease bodyfat, improve right shoulder health and hip mobility, and be more consistent in conditioning work.

In before “5/3/1” gangbang

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My back squat looks like good morning and my low back rounds before parallel, and I currently only use dumbbells and kettlebells for overhead press due to a previous shoulder issue. I suppose I can have a bench day, front squat day, and have the third training day be pull-ups/weighted pull-ups and db/kb overhead press. Dropping back squat and OHP wouldn’t really be “5/3/1”, but if I’ve learned anything browsing these forums, is that consistency and effort are more important than any specific program.

Edit: forgot about deadlift.

I cannot like this comment enough. This should be bookmarked on every forum. 99% of “critique my program” threads are like asking someone to critique your house when all you have is a truck full of raw materials.

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Give either of these a whirl…

‘Can you go?’ by Dan John