I'm sure all of us are guilty of doing this and probably have done it more than we're willing to admit: Walk into the gym, look at the equipment available, and ask ourselves, "hmm, what am I going to work on today?". If you're a female, you're most likely going to choose cardio. If you're a male, there's probably a 99.9% chance that you'll do something involving upper body (that % goes up to 100% if you're at the gym on a Monday (International Chest Day)).
If done once or twice you can most likely escape this epidemic with little to no harm (we're always taught everything in moderation is okay, right? (insert thinking face emoji here)). However, if you choose to utilize this theory (I like to call it the "WING IT Theory" as everything you do is going to be on the fly) as you're cure to getting fit, don't expect it to work long. Actually, cancel your gym membership before next month's billing cycle hits so that you can avoid the frustration of paying for something that you'll stop using after 2 weeks.
PLEASE, do yourself a favor and get out of the routine of going to the gym just to perform a "workout". Set short term and long term goals and begin to develop a plan of action on how you're going to complete those goals. And yes, this includes planning the days that you are going to train and what exactly it is that you are going to be training on those days. I PROMISE, you'll become more focused, train more efficiently, and produce faster results. This method, this very underutilized and very underestimated method, is called the "program" method.
Still confused? I'll try to make it easier to understand. Here are the pros and cons of each:
PROS: Requires little planning, good for a change of pace or "jump-start", can be completed in very little time, requires little commitment, no facility membership required.
CONS: No focus on long term goal(s), no periodization or plan, limited structure, limited specialization, no need for evaluations, little education required, workout quality varies day to day, limited results / progression, increased rate of failure, little focus on sustainable lifestyle changes.
EXAMPLES: Fitness classes (e.g. Boot Camps and Spin), workout of the day (WOD), most social media workouts and challenges, the "workout" your friend told you to do.
PROS: Focus is on short and long term goals, strategic periodization and plan in place, specialized to the individual or group, results / progression seen and felt over time, appropriate evaluations required, education required, decreased rate of failure, sustainable lifestyle changes developed.
CONS: Requires commitment and planning (minimum 12+ weeks), facility membership usually required.
EXAMPLES: "Couch to 5k", sport of powerlifting, sport of Olympic lifting, sport of bodybuilding, athletic strength and conditioning (think professional sport teams).
Author: Daniel Riggi, CSCS, CPT, NS. View Daniel's bio here.