One of the biggest reasons there’s so much confusion for people that start a new fitness routine is that there are so many great options. But, those options don’t necessarily match the fitness goals of the individual. The question needs to be asked, “Are you working out or training for your individual fitness goal,” or are you just following the trends?
Looking for a new training program to follow? Check out our 35+ free workout plans based on different goals and ability levels.
Working out can be very different based on individual fitness goals as different physical demands require specific training adaptations.
For example, someone’s training fitness goals are to improve endurance for sports such as long-distance running or cycling will typically focus on building endurance through steady-state cardio, longer-duration resistance training exercises, and high-rep, low-weight strength training. This type of training helps to increase the size and number of slow-twitch muscle fibers, which are optimized for endurance activities.
On the other hand, someone’s training fitness goals are to improve power for sports such as jumping or sprinting will focus on explosive movements that mimic the demands of their sport. This might include plyometrics (jump training), Olympic lifts (e.g., clean and jerk, snatch), and other exercises that emphasize power and speed. This type of training helps to increase the size and strength of fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are better equipped for short, explosive movements.
That’s on the sports / performance side.
For someone who is primarily fitness goals are bodybuilding or improving their physique will often focus on hypertrophy training, using moderate weights and high reps to maximize muscle size and definition. This can involve a variety of exercises, including isolation movements that target specific muscle groups, and compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups at once.
Basics on How to Work Out Based on Your Individual Fitness Goal
Many goals and sports can overlap, and that a well-rounded training program will often include elements of multiple types of exercise. The key is to determine your primary physical demands and design a program that addresses those demands effectively.
Body composition fitness goals
- Follow progressive overload. Gradually increasing the weight and/or reps of an exercise over time to continually challenge the muscles and promote growth.
- Perform hypertrophy training. Using moderate weights for higher reps (8-12 reps per set) to maximize muscle size and definition.
- Do compound exercises. These exercises that work multiple muscle groups at once, such as squats and deadlifts, to promote overall muscle development.
- Also do isolation exercises. These exercises that target specific muscle groups, such as bicep curls or leg extensions, to bring up lagging areas or add definition to specific muscles.
- Take in adequate amounts of protein. Consuming enough high-quality protein to support muscle repair and growth, typically 1-1.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
Try this workout plan for this fitness goal: The 6-week Redemption workout plan
Pure strength fitness goals
- Focus on compound exercises. Compound exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, and rows, engage multiple muscle groups and have been shown to increase strength.
- Train with heavy weights. Training with heavy weights (at least 85% of your one-rep max) is essential for building strength. Use a weight that you can only lift for 2-6 repetitions with proper form.
- Prioritize progressive overload. Progressive overload means gradually increasing the weight you lift over time. This puts a strain on your muscles and triggers adaptations that lead to increased strength.
- Limit the number of reps. Keep reps in the 1-6 range to focus on strength development. Higher reps are better suited for building muscle endurance and size.
- Train with low volume. A lower volume of total work (sets x reps) can help you focus on strength development. Keep the total number of sets for each exercise to 3-5.
Try this workout plan for this fitness goal: The 3-week Super-3 strength-building workout plan
Raw power fitness goals
- Include plyometric exercises. These are high-intensity, explosive movements that can help improve power. Examples include box jumps, medicine ball slams, and plyometric push-ups.
- Incorporate Olympic weightlifting movements. Snatches, cleans and jerks are some of the best exercises to train for power as they are multi-joint movements that involve a lot of explosive strength.
- Focus on high-velocity movements. Instead of lifting heavy weights with slow and controlled movements, try to lift lighter weights as fast as possible to increase power.
- Use resistance bands. Resistance bands provide variable resistance, meaning that the resistance increases as you stretch the band. This type of resistance can help improve power.
- Incorporate explosive movements into your workout routine: Incorporating exercises like jump squats, jump lunges, and jump shrugs can help improve your power.
- Use unstable surfaces. Training on unstable surfaces like balance boards and BOSU balls can challenge your body to generate power to maintain balance, resulting in improved power.
- Improve your speed and agility. Improving your speed and agility can help increase your power. Incorporate drills that focus on quickness, such as sprints, ladder drills, and agility cones into your training routine.
Try this workout plan for this fitness goal: The Athletic Power workout plan
Endurance fitness goals
- Lean into cardio exercises. Incorporate regular cardio exercises into your routine, such as running, cycling, or rowing, to improve your cardiovascular endurance.
- Increase volume gradually. To build endurance, gradually increase the volume of your workouts over time. This will help you avoid injury and allow your body to adapt to the increased demands you’re placing on it.
- Interval train. Interval training, which alternates periods of high-intensity exercise with periods of rest or low-intensity exercise, can help improve endurance.
Try this workout plan for this fitness goal: 30 Days to Beast: How to train for a 21K endurance race
What Is the Interference Effect — And How Does it Affect the Results of Your Fitness Goals?
The interference effect refers to the phenomenon where training for two distinct physical abilities can negatively impact the improvement of either ability, compared to if the same amount of training were dedicated to only one ability. For example, training for both strength and endurance at the same time may not lead to significant improvement in either compared to if a person were to only train for strength or only endurance, as the demands of the two types of training can interfere with each other and limit progress in each. This is why it is often said that it can be difficult to be a strength and endurance athlete at the same time.
It can be difficult, but it can 100% be done. Get a coach or get on a program.
Looking for a new training program to follow? Check out our 35+ free workout plans based on different goals and ability levels. Tell us what your fitness goals are. Follow us on Instagram (@humanfitproject)!