Is your training program good? (4 ways to tell)

written by Philip Stefanov  |  NOVEMBER 23, 2021

Like most people, you’ve probably asked yourself, “Is my training program any good?” Answering this question isn’t easy, especially with the amount of conflicting information we have today. So, I’ve decided to outline four sure ways to tell that you’re on the right track with your training.

Four Ways to Tell That Your Program Is Good

1. You’re making progress

The most obvious way to tell that your program is good is if you’re making progress toward your goals. Of course, progress can be misleading because we might end up sacrificing something for the illusion of improvement. For example, you might be squatting more weight but cutting the range of motion short.

It’s also important to note that progress rarely comes linearly. It’s more likely for us to see fluctuations in our performance. But so long as the trend is pointing up, we are on the right track.

2. You feel loose and ache-free

Progress at the expense of health is never good. A good training program will include elements of longevity, such as:

  • Adequate warm-up before training
  • A cooldown after you finish
  • Regular mobility work to maintain range of motion and feel nimble

Similarly, a good training program won’t include exercises that lead to aches. We are all unique, and not every activity will feel good for everyone. It’s essential to have enough flexibility to change your movements and not feel like there are ‘must do’ activities. For example, I never do dips because they cause sternum pain for me. Sure, the movement is great, but I’ve found other effective ways to target my chest.

3. You don’t feel beat up or overtrained

A good training program causes enough of a stimulus for progress. Contrary to popular belief, training effectively is not about pushing ourselves to our limits every time. Productive training is about looking at the big picture and how your choices now affect your long-term growth.

Any trainer can put together a plan that kicks your butt and leaves you exhausted. But a good coach will create a nuanced program that pushes you enough to progress without hindering your performance on subsequent sets or workouts. 

4. You’re having fun

Yes, yes. I know. Training isn’t supposed to be fun. But ask yourself this:

How long do you think you can stick with something you don’t enjoy? Sure, you might do it for the benefits, and you might even experience social pressure to keep training. But deep down, you need to enjoy what you do. That’s the only way for you to keep coming back, look forward to your workouts, and push yourself hard.

I’ve seen countless people who train half-heartedly and go through the motions. A quick glance can tell you they are itching to finish the workout and leave.

Sure, you won’t enjoy every workout. I certainly don’t. But training should be something positive in your life. You should feel happy for having it and being able to do it. After all, why pursue something that brings you no joy? So, be honest, experiment with your training, and look for ways to keep it interesting.

What Signs Don’t Necessarily Mean Your Training Is Productive

Putting together a challenging workout isn’t difficult. Any trainer can give you a routine that will make you sweaty, sore, and tired. But whether that routine leads to progress is a whole other question.

For example, muscle soreness indicates that you’ve caused a degree of disruption in your muscles. But it alone doesn’t mean you’ll build muscle. Running causes leg soreness, especially when you first start doing it. But how well do you think it will build muscle?

Feeling extremely tired is also not indicative of effective training. In fact, too much fatigue can impair recovery and hinder your long-term progress. So, I recommend gauging the effectiveness of your training practically. Ask yourself:

  • Am I getting closer to my goals?
  • Do I feel recovered enough to work hard each time I’m at the gym?
  • Do I have to deal with nagging aches all the time?
  • Do I look forward to upcoming workouts, and am I having fun?

Until next week,


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