Why you don't always need a program
For people like most athletes or high level bodybuilders, programming is of vital importance. Advanced periodization and various progressions based on the latest science help push them to run faster, lift more or gain mass.
Programs (a very broad term) can obviously also be of help to the average person, depending on who's designing them and the personality of the client.
But for those who have been out of the game for a while (or never in it) or for people who bore easily, programs can sometimes cause more harm than good. Similarly to how it's recommended to let children simply play without structure until 12 or so, I've found it's often better to keep things loose in the beginning.
The worst thing you can do is get caught sitting around looking for the perfect program, when some very simple or fun activities would have been fine!
If, outside of fitness you're a very disciplined person with a reasonable amount of spare time, a long range and thorough program is likely your best route. Same if you've been in great shape in the past and have just fallen off for whatever reason.
But statistically, this does not describe the majority of the population. There's too much advanced level stuff being pushed on people who probably don't need it and most crucially, can actually cause them to be intimidated and revert back to old habits.
Part of the issue is that there's so many trainers and health professionals, who, with the best of intentions are eager to deploy the wealth of knowledge and techniques they've acquired- but sometimes go too far trying to impress the client with how much they know.
Trainers are often also logically eager to start correcting muscular imbalances or core weakness, but it can be difficult with some people to keep things interesting in the beginning. Some have negative associations with exercise and working on pelvic tilts or engaging the iliopsoas can be counter productive.
It can be better to focus on things that are fun or where progress is noticed more quickly.
- Though it doesn't make sense from a kinesiological standpoint, focusing on more cosmetic things initially can provide you with more noticeable results that seem faster and can encourage staying on the path. We simply notice some muscle groups more than others, ie pecs for guys.
- Low impact sports are often a much better introduction than often intimidating gyms. Mix it up!
- Same with muscle groups, we sometimes notice or value our progress more with certain exercises. Again, doesn't make sense in terms of kinesiology, but focusing on progress on a single basic exercise like a pushup can help build confidence and adherence.
Without adherence, there are no programs
All these things you can do with or without a trainer, depending on your budget. Either way, don't be concerned with finding the "best" program or trainer initially. Just get active, get the ball rolling and you'll gain confidence for bigger and more advanced commitments down the road.
Check your local YMCA for drop in sports opportunities, or just start doing some prison style pushup workouts and see how many you can get up to in a day. The last thing you need when your brain is trying to convince you not to work is any possibility of confusion from an overly ambitious workout program.
Once you've got control over your discipline and working out is a way of life, you'll be better prepared to start taking advantage of some of the amazing trainers and techniques that are out there. You have to start somewhere!
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