If one considers themselves to live a “healthy” life they exercise regularly, right? To me, a “healthy” life without regular a exercise practice and movement throughout the day does not exist. Exercise is right there with nutrition, sleep and stress management in terms of importance in the life of someone living healthfully. One cannot overlook or omit the practice of exercise, or any of the previously mentioned aspects of ‘healthy living’ if they sincerely desire to live with healthy intention. There are two basic ways to describe the practice of exercise: there is an exercise routine and a training regimen.
The consistency, the intensity, the overall structure and the intention of one’s practice of exercise that determines whether it is considered an ‘exercise routine’ or if it is the more sophisticated, potentially more beneficial use of exercise known as a ‘training regimen’. Regular practice of body movement with a low to moderate level of intensity and mental focus guided by some very basic structure qualifies as an ‘exercise routine’. An ‘exercise routine’ takes general movement to a higher level.
If a person regularly engages in an ‘exercise routine’, and it has to be of a consistent nature, he or she will experience better health, wellness and all-around performance in life than when they didn’t, with all other factors being equal, of course. The thing is that shooting for “better than the sedentary version of yourself” or something along the lines of “better health than the average person” does not excite me, at all. Does striving for mediocrity inspire you?
Mediocrity sure as hell doesn’t inspire me. When I think about the practice of exercise like that it actually drives me to avoid complacency and continue moving forward with the idea that seeking anything less than my own personally highest levels of health, energy, physicality and all-around performance is unacceptable. . It takes courage to live and train with the intention to optimize your health and performance.
If seeking middle of the road health, fitness and all-around performance is what works for you right now then maybe this article will motivate you to shoot a little higher in your physical aspirations. It takes courage to make changes. Most people, and this may or may not include you, will not get very far with just an ‘exercise routine’, at least in terms of health, fitness and all-around performance improvements that have a real impact on how you experience life. I am certain that the benefits of a ‘training regimen’ go far beyond that of improving appearance and performance in certain exercises.
The benefits of a training regimen apply to your whole life; in my experience people who begin training with purpose also begin living more healthfully and perform better in what matters most to them. I believe that anyone seeking to create and experience their own best all-around performance in professional, academic, artistic and even sexual endeavors is selling themselves short if they do not adopt a’training regimen’ of some sort.
A ‘training regimen’ has been the key for many people to perform better and in some cases excel at their chosen endeavor. For those people who have done very well without adopting a ‘training regimen’ it is probably one of the best ways to ensure that they can maintain their vitality and continue their current run of success. After all, I want to live my dreams for the long run, and the ‘training regimen’ I employ is designed for me to make continual progress through the years.
For all of these reasons and more I encourage you to adopt a ‘training regimen’ guided and structured by the principles that will be briefly covered here. If you are truly driven to excel at whatever you put the majority of your energy into then I am sure that you will give something a try that sounds reasonable and has some great anecdotal reports from others just like you. In fact, there are thousands of successful people who report that engaging in a ‘training regimen’, no matter how small their time investment was, played a key role in them continuing to be grow, evolve and take their whole life to the next level.
The Bulletproof Executive and Elliott Hulse have each helped thousands of motivated people adopt a ‘training regimen’ of some sort and improve their performance in all areas of their life. It is the focus on steadily improving performance in various physical endeavors, which are dependent on the participants interests and goals, that sets a ‘training regimen’ apart from the ‘exercise routine’. Even if you are not presently driven to take your physicality to a higher level a ‘training regimen’ is still capable of helping you become more confident, less moody and potentially even a more courageous, disciplined and resilient person. Who thinks those traits wouldn’t help them grow and become a more well-adjusted person prepared for success and happiness in life? A ‘training regimen’ can help you find vitality no matter your age or limitations.
A ‘training regimen’ does not necessarily ask someone to spend more time exercising; a properly designed ‘training regimen’ usually asks the participant to become very time efficient with their exercise practice. If you need to keep your time investment to 30 minutes a day for 3 to 4 days every week then a highly effective ‘training regimen’ can be put together for you. All you have to do is show up, do everything and do it to the best of your ability. The application of a consistent effort is the hard part for many people, probably most, but you’re better than most. Well, you read my blog which means that you are probably brilliant in some respect, and on top of that you are driven to get ahead and excel at whatever you put your energy into. It also takes time to get better at this exercise stuff!
If you think of the effort you put into doing your ‘training regimen’ as a microcosm of the effort you put into your personal goals and what matters most to you then you will likely find it easier to make the time, show up, display laser focus and push yourself when necessary. If not (or if so), you can hire a professional such as myself.
If a ‘training regimen’ is structured properly and executed with consistent and sincere effort it can play a central role in helping you transform yourself and your life in meaningful ways. In this article I present a basic set of principles that make a training regimen “proper” in it’s design. A proper design is essential because it will put you in position to make relevant strength and conditioning goals, have a good time working your body and execute the program with consistency and sincere effort. Here, I give you the basics to assemble a plan with a somewhat professional structure that you can call your own. It’s up to you to get in there, start the plan and keep it moving when things get tough and adversity presents itself. Making the plan is actually the easiest part.
Are you willing to put in the hard work and dedication to get something meaningful out of your Training Regimen?
One thing I noticed in my formal exercise science education and the thousands of hours of informal research, the thousands of hours of training clients and from conversations with “over-achievers” and extremely fit individuals is that there is no singular ideal ‘training regimen’. However, there are enough similarities between the many different yet clearly effective approaches to exercise that I have confidently assembled a framework that you can employ to some degree in order to make your practice of exercise more enjoyable, more beneficial and a lasting part of your life.
If you were to completely shift your approach to exercise and have the courage to adopt all of these principles you may very well make some noteworthy performance improvements in the exercises like squats and deadlifts which are the most relevant to overall strength and conditioning. I feel like that is just the tip of the iceberg though. I am highly confident that sincerely employing all of the following principles will help you continually become a more formidable version of yourself. If you incorporate just a few of the following principles into your present ‘exercise routine’ you will transform your practice of moderately intense, somewhat structured movement into a powerful and likely more interesting ‘training regimen’.
The level of interest I have in something seems to be the key to the degree of success that I have experienced in my various endeavors in life. In that sense I think many of you are like me. If you haven’t found the type or mode of exercise that interests you very much then maybe you just haven’t employed a ‘training regimen’ yet, or if you did maybe it wasn’t properly designed. Either way you should be encouraged by your ‘training regimen’ to find joy in movement, have some fun and experiment with various related and unrelated physical endeavors in order to learn something about yourself, be present in the moment and enhance your body awareness.
Additionally, with the following principles you will be able to ensure that your present ‘training regimen’ offers considerably more benefits than it’s present explicit purpose. I’ve watched countless men and women adopt a narrow-minded ‘training regimen’ in the quest to get more muscular, stronger, lose fat, run faster marathons or become more toned yet overlook more than one of the key ‘training principles’.
As a result many of these people spent a lot of time and put in a lot of effort to maybe look a little better, move more weight, run a little faster, yet make little or no progress in developing their overall physicality or the awareness they have of their body. I recommend that we focus on embracing and enhancing our overall physicality as this is a highly useful over-arching theme behind any ‘training regimen’. I encourage my clients to think of that when they get frustrated with seemingly slow progress in specific strength exercises or with improving their appearance or body composition. It seems to me that by becoming more aware of our body we are encouraged to become more aware of ourselves at a deep level and become more likely to take responsibility for who we are, what we do and the life we create for ourselves and those close to us.
I’m not saying it always happens but I’ve seen a ‘training regimen’ have a spiritual impact on more than a few people.
It is very possible for you to enhance the awareness you have of your body and of yourself if you absorb the message here, research my ‘training principles’ for yourself, apply your own independent thinking and actually get in there and do it. In just a few months of employing these principles in your ‘training regimen’ you may cross over a barrier of some sort, end a plateau and become noticeably stronger physically, mentally and even emotionally.
I’ve seen a few gym-bros take the advice of my first principle and begin regularly doing yoga or playing in the park and as a result seriously make improvements to their body and their performance in the gym. It is an amazing experience to observe one of my clients when the switch flips in their head and they “get it”; they embrace their physicality and they take decidedly more responsibility for their health and their life. This is a beautiful thing. All they have to do after that is stay at it.
Persistence is an important trait in life and in exercise it makes the difference for many people, but it ain’t always easy so you may find it better to once again hire a goon like me to encourage you to be consistent with your training. My vision for a ‘training regimen’ is that it will inspire you to take responsibility for your health and all-around performance which will lead you to experience a more fulfilling life outside of the arena of exercise, feel better about yourself and experience higher levels of success in whatever endeavor you choose to apply your energy.
Once again the over-arching theme behind any ‘training regimen’ should be for much more meaningful things than seeking a six-pack, a slimmer physique or a strong squat as so many people do with their present ‘training regimen’. However, that is not to say that a meaningful ‘training regimen’ cannot be used to help someone reach those goals, as all ‘training regimens’ need to have specific goals. Upon reading this article and maybe even seeking additional information in order to fully understand why the ‘training principles’ are so instrumental in lifelong fitness and all-around performance you will be able to evaluate all of the ‘training regimens’ you come across in your google searches.
You will be able to quickly identify a weakness in the structure of a plan and plug it up by implementing one or more of the following principles. In my upcoming book I recommend a ‘training regimen’ that is guided by the principles presented here and directly focuses on developing courage, discipline and resilience. The intention of my personal ‘training regimen’ is to help me build character, body awareness and ultimately become more aware of myself as I feel this will help me live a fulfilling life and follow my dreams.
Courage, discipline and resilience are valuable characteristics that I believe enable any willing and able person to take more responsibility for their health, live their dreams, feel great about themselves, experience pretty damn good energy and ultimately become as self-aware as possible. In my upcoming book I go considerably more in-depth about the inherent character-building capabilities of a properly designed and sincerely executed ‘training regimen’. I give the reader enough information that he or she will, after reading my book be in a great position to develop the tools, skills and confidence to get the most of my or any ‘training regimen’.
Please keep in mind that information has impotence (that’s right) when it is not infused with some emotion, some drive and enough courage to actually use it. If you are reading this blog you very likely already have what it takes to get the most from implementing these ‘training principles’ in your future workouts. More likely than not you have been successful in your life to this point at one or more things that you deemed important and applied yourself to; maybe you just haven’t yet put your energy into enhancing your physicality or optimizing your health.
Or maybe you just aren’t buying my argument that ‘training regimens’ can have a multitude of all-around benefits that go well beyond improvements in the weight room, on the yoga mat or in races. Or, maybe you have put some of your energy into your health and physicality only to make the mistake of employing some variation of a standard ‘exercise routine’ coined by an avid “fitness enthusiast” (pronounced en-thooos-E-ASST).
Even better, you may have wiped yourself out with a brave (at least too ballsy for you), yet poorly structured ‘training regimen’ formulated by some musclebound fitness guru somewhere. Maybe you are not in good shape at the present moment but have confidence that you will give a sincere, sustained effort at working out if you can assemble your own program with some professional pointers. It doesn’t matter why you are not consistently putting effort into a structured, high and moderate intensity ‘training regimen’ at this moment.
It only matters that you are willing to begin it now and carry it out for a few months, at which point I guarantee you will be “sold” on it if you use the following principles to design it. Either that or you can hire a goon like me to design your customized ‘training regimen’. A major point here is that the ‘training principles’ here and the full regimen that I detail in my book are intended for driven people seriously interested in living better, feeling better and experiencing better health and fitness. If you fail to believe in yourself than now is the perfect time for you to just put your head down and follow an appropriate approach to exercise.
In addition to information and some courage it is essential that you believe that you will do, experience or become whatever it is that you set your mind to. All I can do is offer some information to guide you and add to your perspective. If I am your personal trainer then I can be a step close and provide direct instruction and supervision. However it is your own inspiration, drive, courage and belief that will enable you to create higher levels of physicality, health and all-around performance for yourself.
A personal trainer cannot be your primary source of motivation; inspiration and motivation has to come from within if you truly want to excel in whatever it is that you do including exercise. One final thought that might add some perspective to your life and exercise pursuits: it has become relatively apparent to me after conducting more than five thousand hours of personal training sessions that everyone would be better off if they had an over-arching goal behind their fitness endeavors. An over-arching theme is so important that I bring it up over and over.
Once again I suggest that we think of our ‘training regimens’ as instrumental in helping us live our dreams, feel great about ourselves, perform very well at whatever we choose to do and help us experience lasting health and fitness. If we think of it like that we are a lot more likely to make exercise a lasting habit and get the most out of it as it relates to your life. There is more to exercise than the hours that you spend in a gym, yoga studio or out running the mean-streets of your neighborhood.
To me, exercise can play a formative role in helping you develop at a fundamental level; and a properly constructed ‘training regimen’ is the vehicle. Now that I’ve convinced you to adopt a ‘training regimen’ and apply a meaningful intention to it here are the Training Principles that will ideally structure your pursuits:
- Body Awareness
One of the first things that I recommend you do, and I encourage this with great conviction, is to find more than one type of physical activities that you enjoy. Personally, this was easy for me because I find a lot of different sports fun, I enjoy yoga, I like to lift heavy weights and I even enjoy running on certain days. For you this may be more challenging, but that’s not a problem as long as you have a relatively open mind and some courage to get out there and experiment with various types of movements and physical activities.
- General Conditioning
There is a minimum level of aerobic conditioning needed for you to do the more advantageous modes of exercise like lifting heavy weights and performing short bouts of high intensity training. The ‘aerobic base’ is a problem for many of the one-dimensional ‘muscleheads’ frequenting weight rooms across America. Unfortunately, there are probably more ‘cardio addicts’ frequenting fitness facilities in this great land. Neither one of these boneheads is right, as both are imbalanced in their employment of exercise. If you can’t finish a walk on an 8 degree slope at 3.5 mph for 20 minutes (without holding on; that is for cowards) then you need to get working on your general conditioning. When this pre-requisite is covered and maintained you will likely be in position to become more aggressive with your ‘training regimen’ and ultimately get a lot more out of it.
- Spinal Integrity
Prior to lifting heavy things people absolutely need to demonstrate the ability to keep their spine straight while moving their torso through various planes of movement. This is done by recruiting the abdominals, the obliques, the lower back muscles, the glutes, the rhomboids of the upper mid-back and various other muscles. I recommend that people do a lot of bodyweight squats and hinges at the hips with a focus on keeping their spine straight in order to get ready for or in complement to lifting heavy weights. A very basic yet effective series of all!
- Hip and Shoulder Mobility
Persistence is the key here regardless of where your hip and shoulder mobility is now. I recommend that everyone does at least a few hip and a few shoulder mobility drills every single day. All it takes is 5 minutes. I feel like passively or actively stretching musculature comes after completing active mobility work. If you really want or need to take it to the next level then you will have to become comfortable with the pain associated with soft tissue self-treatment with a foam roller as well. But we can all get ahead and take good care of ourselves with the basic found in the coming videos. This topic goes far beyond my expertise and the scope of this article therefore I will leave you with this valuable resource, the MOBILITY WOD website, the book by the guru himself BECOMING A SUPPLE LEOPARD and the following videos featuring the hip and shoulder mobility drills that I like to do regularly: First, the HIPS. Repeat this 10 times in a session
- Strength Train the Primal Movement Patterns
The primal patterns of movement, which I believe were originally formulated by Paul Chek are at the root of all human movement. These are the movements that are most relevant to physicality and general human performance. I believe that all ‘training regimens’ should feature some variation of each one of the following movement patterns. Torso Bracing
- Undulating Periodization
This may be key to making continuous, meaningful gains in the long run by employing different ‘training regimens’. The idea is that you force yourself to overcome progressively more resistance or difficulty in a number of different exercises and modes of exercise (e.g resistance training, cardio) in a number of different ways. Undulating periodization is a way of adding some variety and some muscle confusion to a ‘training regimen’ in order to keep someone interested and keep them moving forward and making gains to their overall physicality.
This seems like an advanced concept but I have found the most success in working with people by keeping things simple. For example, in a given workout I will have a client lift heavy, like 1-3 repetitions on two or 3 sets of squats then significantly reduce the weight for the last set and have him do repetitions until she can no longer continue, usually at least 12-15 until failure. After that I will have her complement that with some relatively light lunges and Romanian deadlifts for 8-10 repetitions far shy of failure. For the next squat workout, 4 or 5 days later I will have her do 5 sets of 5 repetitions at prescribed non-maximal poundages followed by lunges and Romanian deadifts for sets of 8-10 reps that force her to go to near muscle failure for each of the 3 “work” sets. And then for her next squat workout 10 days after the first one I have her sprint 15 yards and then jump onto a high box 5 times in between sets of heavy, 3 repetition, but not to failure squats.
In that example I had my client use daily, weekly and monthly forms of undulating periodization which hits a considerable amount of muscle fibers, pushes someone mentally, adds some variety and continues toward the goal of making her a stronger person with a stronger, more resilient body. It takes a knowledgeable trainer to design this type of regimen, but with some enthusiasm, google-searches and trial-and-error you can do this to yourself for the next 50 years. Undulating periodization has been re-branded as “muscle confusion” by more than one fitness guru. However, if you use this exercise science principle responsibly and with the right intentions and the ultimate goals of increasing strength in the primal patterns (bracing, squatting, deadlifting, pull up/row, push up/press, sprinting, lunging, twisting) then you will be able to get lasting, meaningful benefits out of it.
I’ve talked to many people with outstanding physicality that have shifted the emphasis of their ‘training regimen’ every few months in order to keep things fresh, build their body in different ways and slowly make progress in terms of their feats of strength and how they look naked. Some of these people made big changes to their program; moving from a bodybuilding plan to a 5 sets of 5 plan to a powerlifting plan to a strongman type of plan and then to yoga/cardio plan. This has worked for these people.
There are also strength training and bodybuilding enthusiasts who are constantly making small shifts and “tweaking” their ‘training regimens’ in an ongoing fashion. They do things like alter the number of repetitions they do and the speed in which they perform them for a few weeks then go back to their wheelhouse, whatever it is. Or they may focus on the negative portion of repetitions once a week (this is very demanding and effective, by the way) in the context of a bodybuilding style ‘training regimen’ for a few months and then shift to doing 2 or 3 high volume, full-body workouts in a week for a few months. The possibilities are endless.
I have some of my clients train for muscle endurance, strength and muscle size at the same time by properly employing the principle of ‘undulating periodization’. What I hope you takeaway from this is that you need to constantly shift what you do and how you do it while being mindful of the over-arching theme (become stronger in the primal patterns) in order to get the most out of the time and effort you apply to exercise.
- Facilitate Recovery
For this moment I want you to think of everything that you do outside of the time you allot for exercise as having the ability to help or hinder your recovery from exercise. If you want to facilitate your recovery and get the most out of your ‘training regimen’ you should do your best to have a regular sleeping pattern, consistently eat the most nutritious food while avoiding the potentially most damaging food along with minimizing the impact of stress in your daily life. Some people, myself included find it hardest to regularly get enough sleep to promote fast recovery and muscle gain from demanding training sessions. Others find it hard to eat enough nutritious food in order to nourish themselves to promote fast recovery and muscle gain. There is also a significant segment of people that find it most difficult to control the amount of stress in their lives.
However, in my experience the most common lifestyle factor compromising people’s ability to get the most out of their commitment to exercise is the ability to avoid the potentially most damaging foods. It is not a novel idea for me to claim that foods with wheat products, corn products, added sugar especially fructose and vegetable oils are the most offensive foods most likely to limit one’s progress in their ‘training regimen’ and management of their health. If this is new to you then you haven’t been reading my blog, following the health scene or scouring the medical research; that’s fine because you can go back through my blog or google these things.
My professional recommendation is to avoid the previously mentioned foods, which means most of the popular packaged foods in America, for a month and see how you feel. Eat properly fed meat including grass-fed beef, bison and lamb along with lots of vegetables, roots, tubers, seafood and fruit. Those will be your staples, and nearly everyone finds themselves far better without wheat, corn, sugar and vegetables oil; and I usually have people avoid cheese and soy as well. Dialing in your dietary regimen is so important that thousands of books have been dedicated to the subject, which means that it goes far beyond the scope of this article. But you know what I feel the basics are (avoid wheat, corn, sugar and vegetable oils) in order to begin eating more nutritiously and less toxic. As for regular sleep and stress management they deserve serious consideration as well.
Once again there have been thousands of books written on the topics. I’ve read a good deal and I feel that establishing a regular sleep pattern where you get at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep and feel refreshed after a morning shower but before a morning coffee is essential for optimal health and promotion of a ‘training regimen’. Stress management, in my mind begins with perception that is complemented by a regular routine whereby one relieves stress regularly. Personally, I meditate almost every day, do yoga a few times a week and stretch myself out thoroughly (including the aforementioned hip/shoulder mobility) at least once a day in order to proactively manage my stress. I think everyone can benefit from a similar regimen.
Finally, the very notable fitness expert Paul Chek recommends that people do what he calls “working in” at intervals between sets and exercises in order to promote bodily awareness, promote recovery and give the participant control over their neuromuscular system and body as a whole. It works. Tremendously. All you need is the willingness to look a little “crazy” in the gym. I have personally experimented with it and found it to be useful and helpful in promoting my hyper-focus. Here is a video where Paul leads some young enthusiasts:
Conclusion You can employ a ‘training regimen’ for many different specific reasons, such as look better without clothes on or run a 5-minute mile, but if you maintain an over-arching theme where you drive to become more aware of your body and yourself then you will make the best use of the precious time and energy you invest in working out.
If you don’t workout now I hope this motivates you to get moving and embrace your physicality. If you presently follow an ‘exercise routine’ that is great, but know that you are limiting the effectiveness and efficiency of your precious time and energy. You can become healthier and maybe even maintain it, but by simply shifting your intention, increasing your intensity and applying a structure similar to this presented here you can make serious improvements to your body and even build your character to some degree.
If you already employ a ‘training regimen’ then after reading this article I hope you take my advice and do things to promote your body awareness, work on maintaining or improving your general conditioning, employ some hip/shoulder mobility work, maintain or improve your spinal stability, strengthen your primal movements, facilitate your recovery between workouts and even between sets while incorporating some undulating periodization. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on exercise and life in general. Once again I love you all.