What’s the purpose of using a workout plan?
The value of a workout plan is that you are provided with several weeks, months, or even years of programming. This programming typically has a specific goal in mind. For you, it’s easy to just glance at your schedule every day and see what you need to do. Being able to do that, as opposed to trying to figure out what to do each day, is great for a lot of people. This often leads to increased adherence and better outcomes overall.
This relies on the assumption that a program is properly written. We will discuss that more below.
Who needs a workout plan? Who doesn’t?
Not everyone needs a program. A program is best suited for someone with specific goals. If all you want to do is get a bit healthier, you can go do anything. For the most part, you will make progress if you go do anything. Our goal however has always been to get as much as we possibly can from our efforts. If that is your goal, a well-designed program may be right for you.
Who should be writing your program?
First, a great workout program should be written by someone qualified to do so. This should be someone who has some type of certification. Without this, it’s hard to really know if what you’re getting is good. When the knowledge behind your workout program is more based on experience than science, you start to run into issues. A common example is a fit individual who starts to produce workout programs. This guy is really fit, so he generally knows what he’s talking about. Right? Maybe.
We don’t like to leave our chances of success to a maybe. The concern here is that what worked for that person, may not work for you. That’s why we like our fitness concepts, information, and programming to be based in exercise science. That basis gives us a proven starting point for our material which we can then build upon.
Taking all your fitness advice from a fit individual isn’t too different from taking health advice from a healthy person. Just because your buddy never gets sick, doesn’t mean he can treat you like a doctor. Here is a great video that discusses taking advice from the really fit guy – link.
Instead, we view a great program as one written by someone with a background that involves understanding the scientific basis of training. The program designer having a certification is a great start. Having that certification, along with some general experience, together makes a great combination.
In addition, that person should also have some experience in what they are writing about. In our area of military fitness, we’d like to see someone who is writing about SFAS, for example, having actually attended SFAS. If the person has knowledge of exercise science, a certification showing that they have proven that knowledge, and first-hand experience at SFAS, that together makes for a strong combination to provide you quality material.
What does a good program look like?
As we mentioned, when you have a great program in your hands, all you need to do is glance at it once per day and see what needs to be done. But with that, there is some trust. That trust should be that the person who wrote the program considered a number of areas. There are many points of focus, but we view these four as the most significant:
1 – Specificity: Is the program you’re doing specific to the goal you’re pursuing? If the goal of the program is to just move around a bit and get healthier, this isn’t a huge factor. But if the goal of the program is to be ready for Ranger School, for example, you really want that program to focus on the demands of the school. Whenever we see a Ranger program that ignores rucking or doesn’t help you prep for obstacle courses, or barely helps you get ready for the PT test, we can clearly see that they missed this mark. Specificity matters. When your initially viewing a program, see what areas of fitness you need to be ready for. You should be able to find those areas directly addressed within the workouts.
2 – Progressive Overload: An effective workout program should be designed to progressively challenge your body over time. It should include a structured plan for increasing the intensity, duration, or complexity of exercises as your fitness level improves. This progressive overload principle ensures ongoing adaptation and continued improvement.
The implication here is also that if you are generally making your programming harder week to week, you can’t have the first week of that program being extremely hard. This not only opens you up to injuries, but it makes it difficult to increase week-to-week difficulty when week 1 already left you crushed. If you see a program that crushes you in week 1, this is a red flag.
A bad workout program may fail to incorporate this progressive overload. Without gradually increasing the intensity, volume, or complexity of exercises, the body may plateau and fail to make significant gains.
3 - Recovery: The program should incorporate adequate rest days, sufficient sleep, and strategies for active recovery, such as foam rolling or stretching. Balancing exercise with recovery allows your body to repair and adapt, reducing the risk of overtraining and maximizing long-term progress.
When a program is designed, the writer should consider the fatigue that accumulates within that workout week, as well as over time. How likely are you to recover, and thus make progress if your legs are getting crushed every single day? Are the challenging workouts within your week spread out? Are lower-impact days sprinkled into the program to aid in recovery? Although you can probably ignore this for a couple of weeks, you’ll likely eventually run into trouble. If you don’t consider this initially, you may hit that point of significant fatigue, injury, or decreased fitness at the worst possible time.
4 - Individualization: A good workout program takes into account your current fitness level, experience, and any specific considerations or limitations you may have. It should be adaptable to different fitness levels, ages, and body types. Individualization allows for modifications and adjustments to ensure safety and optimize results.
A fundamental problem with online programs is that you get one program. Whether you’re fit, not fit, broken, or whatever else, you have the same program. When every person is different, this can cause problems. Blue / Green approaches this problem by giving you full chapters explaining the concepts of your program, and frequently including flex workouts. When you know why you’re doing what you’re doing, and you can adjust your program to how it best suits you, you’re helping make necessary adjustments for it to work for you as an individual.
Customization can also be involved with your specific workouts. A guy who starts a program being able to run a 32:00 5-mile probably needs to run at a different pace than someone who runs a 45:00 5-mile. Yes, you may be using a program where everyone needs to get to the same goal, but no one should be restricted from performing workouts best suited to them. Initial testing within a program, and then workouts based on your testing results does a lot to help address this issue. And having flex workouts in them gives you a chance to work in areas where you need it. For example, a couple guys on the Blue / Green team struggle with push-ups. In this case, they can take advantage of the flex workouts to add in some low impact push-up workouts.
A generic workout program that doesn't consider an individual's fitness level, goals, preferences, and any specific limitations or conditions may not be effective. Personalization is crucial to create a program that aligns with individual needs and maximizes results.
What does a bad workout program look like?
Unfortunately, the internet is filled with bad workout programs. The problems listed below are what inspired us to create Blue / Green. Here are the most common problems we see:
1 - Programs online aren’t guaranteed. If someone really believes in their program and it is as good as they claimed, why wouldn’t they offer a guarantee? Blue / Green proudly guarantees all our guides. If it doesn’t work for you, and if we aren’t able to explain it or adjust it in a way that does, we will refund you.
"When we say we believe in our guides and our community support, we actually do - and we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is."
This is also the reason that we won’t recommend someone purchase a guide that isn’t right for them. We constantly speak with people in our Instagram DMs. If we don’t feel like their money would be well spent with us, we tell them. From there, we’re always happy to point them in the right direction, offer them free advice, or show them some of our free content.
2 - The person writing the program doesn’t know much about exercise science. Maybe they are fit and maybe they are/were in the military, but that hardly qualifies someone to be sharing fitness programs. Be skeptical about who is actually writing the programs.
3 - The program was written years ago, and the person/company is out of touch with changes. We see this most often with Ranger School and SFAS. These programs were written in about 2 hours, and they haven’t been touched since. B/G takes pride in staying in direct contact with these schools and refining all programs based on that feedback.
4 - The person/company doesn’t take feedback. The most common example we’ve heard is regarding Mountain Tactical not making any adjustments based on feedback. This is ignorant and lazy. Additionally, when you’re given feedback that workouts don’t make sense or that key elements are missing, you should adjust your program.
Unfortunately, we don’t see many updates happening. B/G proudly updates our programs about once per year based on feedback. If a more pressing change occurs, we will immediately get to work on that adjustment.
5 - The program isn’t specific to the demands ahead. A common example we see related to this is SFAS programs that don’t have rucking as a central theme of the program. Of course, rucking isn’t the only thing you should be doing. But if a program only has you rucking 1-2 times towards the end of that program (after you should have already built a base), you really aren’t doing the training that is best suited towards what you’re about to need to perform. After all, SFAS is all about rucking.
You should demand that your program is specific to what you’re trying to get ready for. This is also a reason you should reject any program that is focused on several courses. Sure, Ranger School and SFAS have some similar fitness concepts. But it would be foolish to use a program that isn’t hyper-specific to what you’re about to do. We believe companies do this because they are lazy. They view this as a time-saving method.
6 - Any company that has a seemingly unlimited amount of programs may be an issue. This isn’t always the case, but if they are able to produce programs endlessly, how much effort are they putting into them? Are they taking the time to review them as a team, or is one person throwing it all down and publishing it? Is anyone testing the program? Is that program in a trial period where feedback and refinements are made? The answer to all this should be yes, but it rarely is for companies online.
7 - Even a perfectly designed program may elicit some questions. That person/company should be ready to quickly answer questions. When questions take weeks to get answered, no answer comes, or they aren’t willing to have a conversation, you aren’t really valued as a member of their community. In fact, it isn’t a community at all. They just wanted to take your money and send you on your way.
What else should be included in a workout program?
We spoke a lot about what we expect from the author of a workout program, as well as from the actual contents. With this criterion, there are places online that can offer great programs. The Blue / Green team however still found many of these inadequate. What was missing was explanations on the workouts, the program, as well as information on nutrition, recovery, and mental skills. If you really want to reach your full potential, those things matter. We want to get as fit, and prepared, as possible.
As you know, you train hard when you’re getting ready for something like SFAS, Ranger, or Sapper. When you’re training hard, your ability to recover matters. Not only does that recovery allow you to capture the progress from the workouts you do, but it allows you to show up to your following workouts ready to get after it again. At this high level of training, you miss out on a lot of your potential when you ignore how you eat and how you take care of your body.
We set out to solve this problem by not making workout programs. We only create guides. Our guides have a great workout program, but they also have full chapters on the relevant concepts of fitness, nutrition, recovery, and mental skills. The chapters on fitness explanations are important because it gives you some explanations about why you’re doing what you’re doing in the workout program. We hate the phrase “trust the process” because it implies that you’re blindly following something. We want you to trust the process because you understand what the process is. And when you understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, you’re able to make informed adjustments when needed.
The other chapters on nutrition, recovery, and mental skills matter. We write these in the same manner. They are specific to what you’re preparing for, and help you reach a higher level of preparedness. For example, if you’re training as an endurance athlete for something like SFAS, you’ll be given the nutrition information to understand how to fuel yourself as an endurance athlete. The nutrition information you’d see in an endurance-focused guide is different from the nutrition information you’d see in one of our guides that focuses on gaining muscle. Different goals demand different information.
Whether its nutrition, mental skils, or workout concepts, we focus on providing you the overall knowledge rather than just giving the answer. With this information, you actually learn something. Not only does that help you be most successful within your current training, but you can carry something forward to whatever challenge is next.
For us, it makes sense to package all of this material together. If you try to get a workout from one place, nutrition from another, and mental skills from somewhere else, it’s often overwhelming, not specific enough, which makes it become ineffective.
Is Blue / Green the only place to get a great plan? Absolutely not. But as you search for one, do your research. Does it have elements that can show you it is expertly designed? Will it best help you reach your goals? Whatever you do, make an informed decision. And even if you aren’t using a B/G plan, we’re happy to help you however we can.
The Blue / Green team is always available through Instagram DM’s, or on Discord. Our growing Discord community features not only advice from the B/G team, but from hundreds of other military athletes in similar experiences. This community can help you with anything. From military life balance, to figuring out what the next step in your career is, to just seeing what kind of running shoes other guys like.
Blue / Green Training designs comprehensive fitness guides for military athletes. Our goal is to enable success and capture potential. Our guides include carefully designed fitness programming and explanations to help our athletes understand the concepts behind it all - something we haven't seen anywhere else. We inspire confidence in our athletes by teaching them effective physical training so they can continue their progress after our programming ends. We guarantee you'll get value from our material.
Blog related to : Ranger School, SFAS, Mountain Tactical, Sapper School, Military Fitness, Military Athlete, Military Training, Military Athlete Programming