How to Start a Training Program That is Right for You

It’s the beginning of the New Year and with new beginnings brings excitement to try new programs, accomplish goals and rekindle old habits that keep us on track to be the best we can be.

For many of us there is a fitness component tied into our personal renewal process.  Whether it is to make some changes and accomplish new milestones or to get back on the horse and make training part of your daily lifestyle, there are a few ideas to consider in order for making it your most successful year yet.

Kettlebell Swings and Chest Press

Goal Setting

First thing is first; you have to determine your goals.  Is it to get stronger in the weight room? Are you training for a particular event or competition?  Or, do you want to simply make fitness a part of your healthy lifestyle?  Once your main goal is realized and decided upon then you can derive a plan of execution.

A goal works best when it is specific.  Saying you want to get stronger is too general when compared to I want to do 15 pull ups.   Also setting reasonable deadlines is not a bad idea to have.  That way you constantly work to achieve your goals rather than increasing your chance of forgetting about them.

You can have goals that take a year to complete.  I have a few poundage numbers I want to hit this year in a few lifts and it will probably take me the whole year, however, I make sure I keep a log of what I have been doing each workout session so I can determine if I am on track to reach that goal by the time I have set for it.

Having multiple goals is not out of the question but make sure they are not too different if you plan on training for everything at once.  For example, setting goals of adding 100lbs to your deadlift and training for your first marathon are two completely different training protocols that do not complement each other well and can lead to you not making either goal; or even worse injuring yourself in the process.  If you have different goals you have to have them on different timelines.  You can achieve your first goal of strength in the first four months of the year and then focus on your other goal the rest of the year.


After you have set your goals and deadlines you have to do a little homework as to how you are going to get there.

Starting something completely new requires more education than trying to get to the next level of performance.  If you have never performed a barbell deadlift, squat or bench press and want to start incorporating them into your training program then you must learn about how to perform them properly before jumping into the deep end.  There are a few great resources like Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe and some websites and YouTube channels out there to help you.

With adding anything new I always advise seeking out help from a competent trainer.  Do some research and see if there is a reputable gym or trainer in your area that can get you going in the right direction.  It would be in your best interest to get some professional advice in order to make your goals a reality.  I travel four hours round-trip once every two months to a great powerlifting gym to have them clean up my deadlift, squat and bench press technique.  Nothing beats hands-on learning every once in a while from the experts.

D.Bell Military Press

Execution and Mindset

After goal setting and learning, then it is time to have a training plan and execute it. I think it is a good idea to have a few weeks written down and then do your best to follow it.

If you want to get stronger at a particular lift then you have to have to practice the lift frequently and progressively.  Look into different strength training protocols like the 5/3/1 or the Cube Method and slightly tailor them towards your lifting schedule and goals.

Figuring out how much to train and how frequent will take a little trial and error on your part.  Some people like to do long sessions three times a week where I like to do shorter sessions daily.  There are some days that you are feeling on top of the world and some days where the lightest weight feels heavy.  Definitely go by how you feel on that particular day and make the changes in weight and volume accordingly.  If you don’t feel like you can lift heavy on that particular day, back off on the weight and add a few repetitions to the lighter weight.

The mental aspect of anything in life is probably the make or break factor in anything we choose to do.  We can set goals, learn and even execute for a while but over time it is very easy to fall off the wagon.  Busy with work and family, getting injured or experiencing some other setback might be enough to bump us off the road. 

Battle Ropes

You must go into anything with the mentality that you can achieve what you set out to do and there is nothing stopping you.  Don’t feel like you have time? Get up earlier.  Are you injured?  Find ways to work around it while you are healing.  Feel like you are not getting closer to your goals? Look to tweak your program to get you there. 

Write down your goals, educate yourself, start training, and find your daily inspiration and go out there and get what you want.