For the sedentary individual or poorly conditioned athlete, an awareness of physical limitations may lead to a desire to modify exercise or dietary behaviors. The goal identification and program planning phase of training is often neglected by those who respond to this sudden surge in motivation by engaging in a generalist training program to “get in shape” without defining athletic goals.
The generalist approach may incorporate endurance, strength, agility, and mobility training performed daily, at random, or possibly in the same workout. Coupled with a broad dietary goal of “eating healthy,” the athlete who employs this strategy is likely to become exhausted or dissatisfied with the results and discontinue training. The frustration of excessive effort with limited results has been experienced by many athletes. The solution is to establish a highly specific goal for training and follow a systematic path to achieve it.
Once a specific goal is identified, an appropriate training plan can be developed. For example, improvements in strength are achieved with low-volume, heavy resistance training.
Power may also be achieved with low-volume resistance training, but with a reduction in load to allow for explosive movement, or through sprinting and plyometric exercises.
Hypertrophy is most effectively developed by increasing the volume of resistance training, which necessitates a reduction in load.
Endurance is achieved through high-volume training.
For some athletes, it’s important to improve strength, power, hypertrophy, and endurance, but this is achieved through periodization rather than by following an “all-in-one” program. Dietary strategies should follow the training goals. Energy and macronutrient intake depend on the type and volume of training and one’s weight or body composition goals.
Bottom line: Athletic training without a clearly defined goal will result in mediocre outcomes. Goal setting and appropriate program planning prepare the athlete for success.