One Size Fits No One- Top 6 Factors in Personalizing Programs
One of the biggest mistakes any level of athlete can make is copying the training routines of others. So many variables play into developing the right training program for an individual, that it's virtually impossible to exactly copy the plan of another and have a maximal training effect.
Here I've listed the top 6 factors that I consider when creating an outdoor athlete's training regiment, and why they make such a difference.
First and foremost, and probably the most obvious question- what's the purpose? What are you training for? A path to a successful summit of a 6000m peak will look much different than a program preparing you for your first backpacking trip, or recovering from a previous injury!
2. Athletic Background
Did you grow up playing sports? What were you good at, what were you not? These questions not only allow me to gauge your potential current fitness levels, but also your comfort levels with training, your aerobic or anaerobic fitness bases, and even your genetic predispositions. Noting this possible difference allows me to program in more or less aerobic training, core stability, mobility work, etc., to ensure you hit your desired peak condition.
3. Current Training
Have you been an outdoor athlete for years, or have you just recently gotten into the game? Are you currently weight training? Are you a seasoned trekker, but never set foot in a gym? All of this information allows me to asses knowledge, experience, and possible limitations or imbalances that could affect your training.
4. Schedule and Availability
How much time can you dedicate to training, both in the mountains and in the gym? Programs come in all shapes and sizes, and one of the biggest factors to the overall structure is how much time you have to train. My rule is, it's better to be conservative in your estimates and overachieve, than to be too ambitious and not hit your targets. Access to available equipment also plays a role into what exercises go into a program, although I've trained clients through successful programs with nothing but a backpack full of books!
5. Stress and Lifestyle
I've had clients who have trained twice a day, six days a week and never burned out. I've also had clients who train three days a week and can't keep from overtraining. The difference? What's going on in their lives outside of the gym. If you're able to get 6-8 hours of sleep a night, manage your stress effectively, and eat in a way that fuels your body and speeds recovery post workout, you're likely going to be fine with your workload. If any of these factors are thrown off, it's important to address them early, or you'll risk burnout or injury.
6. Imbalances/Weaknesses and Injury History This is probably the most technical factor, with the most variables, and unfortunately, the hardest to program for. That's why I get into specifics with every client about their injuries and pains, from history to movement screenings and more. A "shoulder" injury could mean many different things, and one exercise that might improve one shoulder problem could exacerbate another. If you're dealing with any major chronic pain or serious injury, working with or consulting a trainer, physical therapist, chiropractor, or other specialist is highly recommended. Looking for some advice on training, or interested in setting up a free consult call? You can sign up for the BCF App with one month free here, and chat with a trainer directly about your concerns, or schedule a consult at this link to talk about personalized coaching.