Over the last 5, 10, or maybe even 15 years we’ve witness a renaissance in the fitness world and CrossFit has been very responsible. However, there are others that have also helped reshape the fitness industry. To name just a few in this evolution, we also saw the emergence of Training for Warriors, Orange Theory, and even commercial gyms jumped into the mix, such as Life Time Fitness’ Alpha Training.

However, it seems as if most of these programs have one thing in common and that’s the fact of variability in training from one location to the next. Out of the aforementioned, Orange Theory Fitness probably provides the most consistent training experience from one location to the next, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best either. One would think because Life Time Fitness is a national chain that their Alpha Training Program would be the same from location to location – however, it’s not and programming is up to each individual location.

This blog post isn’t about determining what training methodology is best, but it’s to help you determine if your training meets the standard of what we feel fitness truly is. The problem with the emergence of all these programs and facilities is quality control. I’ll be 100% honest, if you’ve been sedentary for a while, just about any sort of activity you do will yield you some results. However, the difference maker is what happens after that initial period and that’s where programming matters. This is why something like Orange Theory Fitness may not be the best overall training program because it’s one dimensional.

So quality control is a problem, what do you mean? Even though these brands have certification courses you have to take before you can open an affiliate, there really is no follow up, inspection, etc. While I can only speak first hand about CrossFit because Undisputed was a former affiliate – those that I have spoken with have said the same thing about their affiliations, that they can do whatever they want.

This might lead you to ask, “How does Undisputed Strength & Conditioning define fitness? And what makes it a well-rounded fitness program?” Well, we define our general fitness program (Cross-Training) with the following components:

  • Cardiovascular Strength/Aerobic Conditioning
  • Strength
  • Muscular Development (Hypertrophy)
  • Mobility and Stability – No Weaknesses
  • Core Strength – this is everything that protects the spine, not just abs
  • Coordination
  • Nutrition and Supplementation (if needed)
  • Mental Health
  • Recovery/Sleep

Out of the above list, there are two components (or possibly only one that we don’t directly help you with) – those two are: Mental Health and Sleep. However, regular exercise has been shown to help improve mental health and sleep, so maybe we help with those two indirectly.

Where Undisputed really separates from the pack is with the programming (Cross-Training) because we seek to improve all of those components through periodization. Just in case you’re wondering what “periodization” is, I’ll define it for you:

Periodization is systematically planned training that cycles through different aspects of training over a period of time to enhance varying components of fitness. These periods or blocks of training are commonly referred to as the micro-, meso- or macrocycle. Multiple microcycles (usually 1 week each) make up a mesocycle. Multiple mesocycles (usually 2-3 months in duration) make up a macrocycle. Typically, a macrocycle refers to 12 months.

Why is this planning important? Well, I can’t tell you how many fitness professionals I’ve spoken with who don’t have any sort of periodization for their clients or fitness classes. This lack of planning typically means there is no progression. No progression means you’re not getting any closer to your goal or goals. And believe it or not, there are lots of those who coach group fitness programs where the next day’s workout is just thought up of the night before. There are also trainers who create your workout as they go. While all of that may sound trivial, fitness and performance improvements require frequent intended and similar (not same) stimulus to signal the body to want to adapt. For example, if you run a 5k once and don’t do it again, it’s not going to be frequent enough for your body to want to improve. But at the same time, getting better at running a 5k doesn’t mean running a 5k daily.

When you train at Undisputed, you probably have the same goal as everyone else – improving your fitness (how we define fitness is that list towards the top of the post). Through those improvements, is what gets you the body you’re looking for and that’s why programming is important. When you workout at Undisputed, you can expect to always have a carefully thought out program that addresses all the different components of fitness. Sure, there will be times we reduce focus in one component to improve another, but that’s to achieve the adaptation we’re looking for.

This is how we shape our program:

  • October 2016 – December 2016 (Strength): In this mesocycle, we focused on getting stronger. And, we purposely selected the fall because people tend to eat more and when you’re hypercaloric (consuming extra calories), it’s a good time to utilize those calories to get stronger.
  • January 2017 – March 2017 (Conditioning/Endurance): We’re spending 12 straight weeks building up that engine. This increased work output also means you’ll be torching calories and melting away that body fat. While strength gains will be smaller in comparison to the last mesocyle, conditioning is the focus.
  • April 2017 – June 2017 (Hypertrophy): In this phase we focus on growing the muscle through repetitions, your working sets will be higher.
  • July 2017 – September 2017 (Balanced): You just spent 9 months sculpting your body so it’s time to show it off. We balance the program and focus on enjoying the nicer weather. Yep, you read that right – 3 times a week is all most people need to maintain as long as those other days are spent enjoying the weather. Lots of our members like evening walks or jogs, paddle boarding, swimming, rock climbing, etc. We’ve even planned Saturday park workouts, games and BBQ!

Right now you might be asking, where is mobility/stability; core strength; and coordination? We have those components programmed into each block with certain types of exercise or movements. Additionally, we recommend products such as MobilityWOD or RomWOD as self care for mobility; if you need nutritional guidance we have partnered with these amazing programs “Eat to Perform for our onsite members or Eat What You Want! Lift What You Want!” We even have local specialist we refer our members to if they need to speak to a professional about anything mental health such as stress management; depression; etc. Getting some bumps and bruises due to being more active, guess what – it happens, but we have physical therapists and chiropractors we work closely with too.

How to put this all together… If you program your own workouts, you need to honestly ask yourself, “Does my program address all the components of fitness?” If you have a trainer or do group fitness, does your coach, personal trainer, or whomever know what’s planned tomorrow, next week, next month, next block? If you can answer, “No,” to any of those questions, you might want to evaluate if you’re actually getting any closer to your goals.

Please note – this post is an opinion from my personal perspective. In no way, shape, or form am I saying that ALL group fitness programs and personal trainers fail to provide you with a great product or fail to program correctly. I’m just saying that I’ve encountered far too many “fitness professionals” and group fitness programs that don’t put any advance thought into programming.

In the end, any activity is better than no activity. So find something active you enjoy doing and keep moving forward! -Coach Vinh