Hard Work: The Most Important Programming Factor

A lot of thought goes into creating a successful training program. One must account for volume, intensity, frequency, equipment availability, injury history, experience, and numerous other factors. All of these individual pieces come together to create a system designed to improve certain physiological aspects of the human body. For some it’s hypertrophy, for others it is rate of force development, and for the rest it may be increasing aerobic capacity. Regardless of the goal, there is one key factor that can either make or break a program. Hard work.

I like to think of hard work as fuel for your program. Much like a car requires fuel, so does any training program. For those of you who drive electric cars, you can sit this paragraph out. In fact, while the rest of us read on, you can drive your fake car to the dealership and trade it in for something that can maintain the speed limit. We’ll wait.

Mental Imagery 3

As I was saying, much like a car needs fuel, a training program absolutely requires hard work. Say you seek out the nicest car money can buy. You know this car will be exactly what you want. It has the speed, it has the power, and it has the sex appeal you’ve always wanted. However, without gas it’s just an awesome looking hunk of metal that doesn’t go anywhere. The same thing goes when creating or picking a training program. You could have the greatest coach in the world, the best facility to train in, the best recovery aids, and still not go anywhere without hard work. Remember, a program is just a plan until it is put into action.

I have seen people make little to no progress on some of the most proven programs available. I have also seen people make incredible progress on homemade programs that seem to defy the laws of what works in training. The difference? Hard work. Bust your ass and you can make a bad program good, a good program great, and a great program a ticket to success.

I started lifting seriously when I graduated from high school. I was stubborn, so I made my own programs and refused to utilize the many tried and true ones that were available to anyone with an internet connection. As you can probably guess, these “programs” were quite abysmal. However, my main goal for training was to “not look like such a skinny bitch”. Seriously, I think I wrote this as the goal for my first program in the page I tore out from a spiral notebook. I made a lot of mistakes that first year, but damnit if I didn’t achieve my goal of at least not looking so damn skinny. I gained 91 pounds during that period of time. 91 pounds. That would make for quite the transformation Tuesday….


I didn’t accomplish this because of my knowledge, although I did learn a lot during the process. I didn’t accomplish this because of my experience, although I did spend way too much time in the gym during this period. I did it because I set a goal and busted my ass to get there. Was it healthy? I’m going to go out on a limb and say probably not. But I proved to myself that the hard work that had been instilled in me growing up transferred quite well to lifting weights. And that realization pushed me along the path I am following now, chasing after all the knowledge and strength I can get my hands on.

Work hard, keep things simple, and trust in the process.

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