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Effective programming is boring and repetitive

Someone asked me the other day why the training program for the day looked almost identical to one the week before.

For some reason, many of us have it in our heads that we constantly need to be tricking our bodies into doing different things all the time. Or maybe we're all a little ADHD and it just sounds a little more fun, or at least less monotonous, to have new stimuli and never-ending variety each week.

For sure, variety is important when it comes to fitness, but randomized variety doesn't lead to long term strength or skill acquisition: There needs to be a little more structure to it.

And this structure involves a TON of repetition, and arguably, can get a little boring sometimes.

That being said, we take our role seriously as coaches to help our clients see results—that's what will ensure most of you feel good about your progress and value our coaching—so this means sometimes training is going to be monotonous and repetitive. 

This is as true if you're new to fitness as it is if you have been doing this for 10 years.

For two years, I admit I spent too much time dabbling at the gym. I had spent a good few years before that following a program my coach wrote for me, and needed some mental time off structure. This random training I was doing allowed me to maintain a certain amount of the fitness I once had when I was following a structured program, but certainly didn't lead to any improvements. With two exceptions:

1. Andy's Cardio program

Last winter, Andy wrote me an 8-week aerobic conditioning workout that had me rowing twice a week and biking and swimming to here and there. It was repetitive. It was kind of monotonous (Sorry Andy). But it was effective: My endurance improved. I managed to improve my 10-minute swim time, my 10-minute bike average watts and my 2-km row considerably from start to finish.

2. Functional bodybuilding program

These past 6 weeks, I have been following a functional bodybuilding program (I have two weeks left). It includes a Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 each week. Notwithstanding a few tweaks here and there, Day 1 typically has looked the same for the last six weeks, as have Day 2 and Day 3. The program is hard, albeit very very repetitive and arguably boring. But again, it is effective. Proof: This past Saturday, I back squatted a weight for three reps that I haven't been able to do in the last two years of dabbling.

So now you know: If this Thursday looks eerily familiar, it's not that Tom is lazy and programmed the same thing. It's that there's a greater purpose: To get you results, which, of course (will be the most effective if you adhere to all of the percentages).

The best part is, if you stick with it, you might even learn to appreciate the repetition. Kind of like how you didn't like green vegetables as a kid, and then you learned to tolerate them, and now you're all mature and actually enjoy them.