Avoid common pitfalls in workout programming

Avoid common pitfalls in workout programming

by Pamela Ng 12 Jan 2020

Effective programming in training is both a science and an art. Done properly, each workout should bring the trainee one step closer to realising their goal. For those who are unfamiliar with concepts of sports science, practicing proper programming can be a tough nut to crack. Here are some of the more common mistakes going around:


1. Being overly specific in training

Many people prioritise strength training and core training because they want to develop the Instagram-worthy muscles and abs. However, it is important to remember that exercise should benefit your body and your health as a whole, and it shouldn’t be exclusive to a single aspect of the body. Thus, instead of filling your workout with strength and core exercises, you should also factor in some energy systems work to get your heart pumping and blood flowing. Implement variety in your training as well in order to avoid developing weak links that could hinder you in the future


2. Making it all about the load

It seems that when it comes to weight training, everyone wants to lift heavier all the time. While increasing the load is part and parcel of the concept of progressive overload, there is more than one road that you can walk in this journey. Lifting the same amount of weight for more repetitions/sets, lifting it slower, resting less in between sets – these are perfectly legitimate ways of overloading the body. Don’t get stuck on any one method for too long, and never sacrifice form and technique for progress.


3. Adhering strictly to progression and regression models

Progression and regression models are frameworks that help one get started on various exercises. However, as with all frameworks, there is no one-size-fits-all. Everyone is built differently, and this will affect the kind of exercises they can safely perform. Progression and regression models are great at displaying what the continuum of proper training would look like, but it is only a guideline and should be treated as such. Furthermore, a “regressed” movement pattern can still yield many performance benefits despite its connotations, so the application of a hierarchal mindset to the progression/regression approach needs to be a measured one. Sure – use it to support your training, but don’t let it be your be-all-end-all.


While having science and data to support your training can be useful, truly effective programming demands individualisation. Always remember that there is never a one-size-fits-all approach. As you adapt and progress, your methods will have to change and evolve in order to remain relevant. Be open-minded in exploring other schools of thought and you’ll be less likely to find yourself stuck in a rut!