Goal Specific Training: Customize Your Program for Quicker Results

If you were to ask me, “What’s the best training program?” I would answer with a simple “it all depends.” The answer puts the question back on you. Why?

Because the program depends on your goals. If there was one perfect program, everyone would be following it, but everyone has different goals and must find a program that is specific to what they’re trying to achieve through their training.

To state the obvious, you wouldn’t follow a mass gaining program if you were trying to lose weight and lean out, in the same manner you wouldn’t follow a bodybuilding regimen if you were solely interested in your athletic or recreational performance.

Below is a simple template to help you find the training program that is right for you.

The big picture.
What exactly is it that you want to accomplish? Are you looking to hit a new personal record? Are you trying to lean out? Do you want to move with more fluidity and feel more athletic? The training has to match the outcome. Specificity in training is a principle in which you gear your training to get the desired outcome; if you want to increase muscle strength, move heavy weights for low reps (1-6), if power is the focus, you’ll focus mostly on moderate to heavy weights that can be moved quickly with low reps (1-5). If muscle growth is the goal, you’ll want to work in the moderate rep range (6-12) and if your goal calls for muscular endurance, high reps (12+) is the prescription.

The past.
What’s your training status? Are you just starting out? Are you a veteran in the gym and iron game? It’s important to be honest about where you’re starting, your injury history, your technical proficiency, your strengths, and your weaknesses.

You have to be honest in this assessment in order to avoid over/under training. We all want results and we want them fast, but if we do too much too soon it can result in both mental and physical burnout as well as possible injury.

If you’re a beginner or looking to get back in the gym after a layoff, 2-3 days a week is a good start. If you consider yourself advanced, training up to 5- 6 days a week may be possible – as long as you have the proper nutritional support and recuperation.

Do it all.
Many of us are training with the general goal to look good, feel good, and perform well in all aspects of life. If you’re in that boat, go ahead and train for power, strength, growth, and endurance simultaneously. You won’t be able to maximize any one variable, but you can get pretty good in each category, and the result will be a good looking, functional physique. You might be familiar with that method already: cross-training. But you don’t have to go to intense cross-training classes to reap the benefits of a workout program that is multi-dimensional. Some athletes have found that focusing on one objective (power, strength, or endurance) for specific phases, anywhere from a week to 6 weeks in rotation can yield good results (more on this below).

Patience and focus. We live in a day and age when everything is at our fingertips, and we can get just about anything delivered to our door within a day or two. There are a lot of good programs available, and it’s easy to hop from program to program, but you have to be patient, and of course consistent, to get results. If you want to see measurable results, stick to a program that is specific to your goals for at least 3-4 weeks. It’s also easy to get influenced by our friends or others at the gym, as they may be following the latest Instagram workout that looks like fun, but their goals might be different than yours. Stay true to your goals, as they dictate your program, exercise patience, and maintain your focus for the duration of the program to get the best results.

About the Author: Jim Romagna

Jim Romagna EdD, CSCS, CPT is the Department Head of the Health, Wellness, and Sport program at the University of Dubuque. Dr. Romagna has been a personal trainer and strength coach for over twenty-five years in both the private sector and at the college level. Jim currently serves as the Head Strength Coach for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League (USHL). Jim has a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, a Master’s in Physical Education and is both a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Dr. Romagna played football and ran track in college and was recently inducted into the Loras College Athletic Hall of Fame. Additionally, Jim has competed in 24 bodybuilding shows in five different organizations. Dr. Romagna can be reached at jimromagna@msn.com and followed on Instagram @jimromagna

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.