Short answer is if you’re asking this question you probably don’t have the right knowledge yet to do this on your own. Even people who I’d consider advanced lifters are still going to the gym and making up their own program. This is all well and good as you get the benefits of exercise and you’ll make okay progress by doing this, but get ready to plateau and be stuck there for a long time.
Now, as an average person how can you escape the guesswork of random program design? Two ways: a personal trainer or a well designed program from fitness professionals. I’ll explain the difference as I go along.
A personal trainer is one of the best resources anyone can have. This goes for advanced lifters too! The reason being because a personal trainer is (a good one anyway) going to watch every move you make and help make you better. People forget that lifting weights is as much a skill as it is anything else. Squatting is hard, benching is hard, overhead pressing is hard. Just expecting to be perfect at these complex movements is crazy talk.
Has any person been great at any skill when they first try? How about after a year? How about after 3 years? A guitarist that’s been playing for 3 years is certainly better than when he first started, but it’s likely he’s not a professional player.
Having a personal trainer to guide you through the movements is paramount even as you get into advanced levels of lifting. We can always get better. Outside of form and mechanics, a good trainer is going to help progress your program so you don’t hit plateaus. This is the part that is immensely complex.
Progressing a program doesn’t just mean changing the weight or the sets and reps (although sometimes it is). Some people think it’s just changing the workouts. However, there is a calculated way of doing this and it tends to be unique to the individual and their goals.
The one downside to a personal trainer is cost. You can’t escape that. It will be expensive to hire a quality personal trainer, especially full time. If this is something that is a problem for you, consider how much you may spend on things like beauty products, TV, your phone, entertainment in general, and then consider how much your health is worth to you. You may find that you can make room in your budget to afford a personal trainer at least once a week or maybe even more! Point is I highly recommend (especially newer lifters) to consider investing in a personal trainer.
Next, is if you’re already pretty damn advanced (way to go!) or you have some solid foundational knowledge. In this case, a fitness program from a fitness professional may be sufficient. One of my personal favorites is from one of the most popular fitness and health podcasts: MindPump (@mindpumpmedia). Here’s a link to all of their products:
I personally love the mentality of these guys a lot. If you aren’t listening to any health and fitness podcasts, 100% throw them on your que to listen to. Anyway! They have a wide variety of programs and their bundles pair together extremely well.
They include video demonstrations and all sorts of guides and things to help you out along the way. I also think they are fair priced considering that a single program is generally enough for three months and can be repeated. I personally have used their MAPS Anabolic program followed by MAPS Aesthetic and saw absolutely amazing results. I’m currently on MAPS Split (at this time of writing this article) and I’m loving it.
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Another great program (this one comes with the book) is from Mike Matthews (IG handle @muscleforlifefitness) and his company Legion Athletics. He released “Bigger Leaner Stronger” and “Thinner Leaner Stronger” which are both fantastic books and programs which are found at the links below (hint, buy based on the title that more aligns with your goals):
I’ll give you one last resource for now. Danny Matranga offers fantastic programming and is also a solid person to follow on instagram @danny.matranga. You can find his programs here:
I’ve actually had the pleasure of talking to Danny on my podcast Bone Apple Tea episode 79. While this episode would probably benefit personal trainers more so than non personal trainers, the episode does get to show you who Danny is and how he came to be the fitness professional he is today.
So! I hope this article helped people who need the resources, find something that works for them. We fortunately live in a time of lots and lots of resources at our fingertips and I fully understand it can be daunting to sort through it all. Hopefully this helped do just that.
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