Program Analysis: You’re Doing It Wrong (And What To Do To Stop Doing It Wrong)

Are you a program hopping program hopper always jumping to a new workout routine? That's you? To a tee, you say! Well, you won't be after this blog post sets you straight!

You began a workout program and after running it a few times, your strength has plateaued.

Major bummer!

Or your fat loss has stalled.

What a drag!

Or the centimeter of new muscle you swore you grew hasn’t multiplied into mounds of curvaceousness.

Such a disappointment!

Welp, I guess it’s time to swap out your exercise routine for one you’ve read on a fitness savant’s blog, seen discussed by the gym bros on a message board, or came across in a popular Youtuber’s latest video. Maybe replace what you’re doing with something detailed in a magazine, book, social media post. Maybe scrap your current program for the program that you’ve heard your anal bleacher’s boyfriend’s hairstylist’s mailman’s uncle’s next door neighbor’s landscaper’s cousin is having great results with.

It behooves you to overhaul your program for a completely new one, right?

What are you, a fucking kangaroo?!?!

It’s just a shot in the dark here, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that no, you’re not a fucking kangaroo.

And because you’re NOT a fucking kangaroo, taking the drastic step of program hopping would be a mistake of epic proportions.

I. Guess Who?!?!

The reason why your gains stopped is because…duh…the program you’re using just isn’t that good.

Like, how good could it possibly be if you’re not superhuman strong, Zyzz ripped, and Jamie Eason hot after four weeks?!?!

FOUR WEEKS!!!

Yeah, it’s definitely time to dump whatever piece of shit program you’re currently doing for something else.

Ummmmm, sorry to break it to you, sweetheart, but that’s not the solution.

Why?

Because the program isn’t the problem.

The problem is you (my, you took that quite well…but then again, maybe I would too after getting used to hearing it from every ex during the breakup talk!).

II. Gimme Some More

See, there are no magic programs.

Pixie dust and it’s lack aren’t responsible for your success or failure. Instead, there’s a very particular reason why the new flavor of the month — or week, day, hour — that you’re tempted to replace your current program with is giving others the results that you don’t seem to be getting out of yours. And that reason is owed to nothing more than obedience on the part of those others who you wish would just keel over AND DIE!!!

What on earth does this mean?

Well, only that EVERY training program that’s properly built on progressive overload works. Progressive overload? That’s nothing more than a fancy way of saying “MOAR” — more weight, more reps, more time lifting instead of disappearing to go eye-fuck your gym crush in between sets. In other words, what you’re fucking doing is fucking wrong (you know, going to the gym and performing the same exercises with the same weight for the same number of reps, which is more than likely NOT how the program you’re now thinking of changing was designed). Additionally, any well-written program has to be given time to go into effect, which is about 8-12 weeks of adherence. Anything short of that doesn’t give the body time to become proficient and make the necessary adaptations, which explains why bailing on your workout program at the onset of it producing little to no change is a no-no. More often than not, people bail on a program right on the precipice of when they’re about to start seeing significant difference.

But you were a moron and decided to jump ship. And what happened? Yeah, you got sore.

“Take that, Monster!”

– you thinking you got me

 
You got sore. So what?! DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, isn’t an indicator of muscle growth or any other sign of a program’s effectiveness. Soreness means bupkis. All it points to is that you did something that your body isn’t used to. And being that your body isn’t used to performing the new program’s exercises and workload, you got sore.
 
Okay, okay. But you got stronger, you say!

“In your face, Monster!”

– you thinking you got me again because you obviously haven’t learned your fucking lesson

 
You getting “stronger” means nothing also. The quotation marks around that word are there for a reason. Understand that most people find themselves feeling stronger within a few weeks after beginning a program and then equate it to muscle growth, but that’s wrong. What they’re experiencing is the neurological adaptation stage, when the brain is learning how to recruit the muscles in the new movement pattern. As you repeat the exercise from one workout to the next, the movement becomes easier. Hence, you feel “stronger”.

III. Adjustment Period

You don’t get stronger, leaner, more muscular by changing exercises and programs ALL THE FUCKING TIME!!! You get stronger, leaner, more muscular by sticking with a program and its exercises and challenging yourself to up the intensity by doing more work than you did the session prior. That’s it. But let’s say you do that and your strength still plateaus. Your fat loss still stalls. And your centimeter of muscle growth is still only a centimeter. What are you supposed to do then?

This is a microwave society, a one-click culture where everything is available at the touch of a button. As a result, our patience is shot to high hell. We want things NOW!!! So while I know it’s hard to practice stick-to-itiveness under conditions of not seeing immediate returns for your blood, sweat and tears, you’re better off staying the course all the way to the end. That, however, doesn’t mean that you can’t make slight adjustments (e.g. mix-up the exercise order, add an extra set, change the lifting speed, increase rest so you can do more reps the ensuing set, alter your grip or foot positioning on an exercise, use a different attachment). Oftentimes, you’ll be surprised how one or two minor tweaks are all you need to get the gain train back on track again.

So don’t be a moron.

Are you guilty of this cardinal sin? Ready to repent your program hopping ways? Or are you going to continue doing what you’re doing, traveling on a one-way road to eternal fitness damnation?
Meh…the choice is yours.
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