When we look at programs, sometimes we see things that may not fit into our daily schedules. Most of us have jobs, families, and other obligations that can make fitting a program into our daily routine difficult. Because of this, we need to be able to assess our goals, situations, and priorities as well as viable options to get in enough work to progress.

This article is directed toward those who train or compete as a pastime. It isn't for professional or scholastic athletes. If you fit the description above, hopefully this article will help you find ways to manage a training program and still have time to fulfill all your other responsibilities and obligations.

Understand Who You Are

The first thing you need to do is define who you are as a person and how training fits into this. Sometimes, those who have been training for a long time start to fall into a rut and their training defines them. This is great if this has somehow been able to provide you with an opportunity to make a living or feed your family. People in America who fall into this category most likely play a sport that has national television coverage and is comprised of a three- or four-letter abbreviation of its sanctioning body. In case you're confused, a powerlifting federation doesn't fit this description.

Before anyone gets offended, I do understand that there are powerlifters, bodybuilders, and strongmen out there who are able to make a living from their training. However, they aren’t monetizing from the actual training and competition. They are making money from things related to this such as personal training, coaching, or running some kind of business that actually provides enough income to live (i.e., running a gym/training center, supplement store, or online website either for information or products related to training).

gabriel naspinski train bag 082914

This brings me to my next point. If someone were to ask you how you define yourself, what would you say? How high would your training rank on the list? For me, powerlifting is a pastime and hobby. Of course, I like to do well in meets, but it isn’t something that I'll sacrifice other more important things for. If someone were to ask me who I am at this point, first and foremost, I am now a husband and father. After that, I'm employed by the school system and wear a lot of hats in my position. I coordinate standardized tests, coordinate our volunteer program, teach team sports and weight training classes, and coach football, where I'm in charge of the physical preparation of the team as well as assisting with special teams and scouting. I also currently take online classes toward a degree in educational leadership. Finally, I train for powerlifting.

If you see where I'm going with this, I need to make my pastime fit into my life, which has become much busier in the past couple years. Because of this, I have to look at how much time I have, when I can train, and how I can make it work.

Assess Your Own Situation

After you know how you define yourself and who you are, the next thing to look at is what you're training for and how you'll need to train to meet those goals. One of the biggest variables to account for is how often you can train and for how long each time. What time of day will you be able to do this? Also, inside of this time, how will you train and is it realistic to believe that you can fit everything into the window you've allowed yourself? If not, what adjustments can be made?

One of the biggest factors in how long you can actually train will be the availability of the equipment you'll need. Notice that I didn’t say want but need. As an example, let’s use powerlifting. In most instances, you'll need a bar, plates, and a rack/squat stands, bench, or platform. It's easy for people to bitch and moan that they don’t want to pull because they don’t like the bar at their gym or they don’t want to squat because the only gym they can lift at on a given day doesn’t have a monolift and they don’t want to walk out a weight. However, consider this—is doing something even if it isn’t what you want better than doing nothing?

I understand that in examples of geared powerlifting this may not work, but if this is the case, figure out how many days you'll need to get to a place with the equipment or necessary spotters to do this. If you don’t have any way of doing this, it may not be in your best interests to compete geared. These are things you have to consider. Also, whether geared or not, if you don't have reliable spotters, it's unrealistic that you can do true maximal effort work. Because of this, you may have to reevaluate your situation.

gabriel naspinski train schedule PLExp 082914

On each day, how much time do you have? Do you need to be other places at certain times? If so, planning a training session that may take three hours to complete isn't feasible. However, going back to the question of how often you have access to equipment can rectify this problem. For example, if you have access to equipment every day of the week and have amounts of time each day to get something in, you may want to consider breaking your training sessions into smaller, more frequent sessions or even into smaller sessions throughout the day. I first started doing this when working as a collegiate coach. I had multiple groups training throughout the day, but between some groups, I'd have anywhere from thirty to sixty minutes off. I ended up performing my largest movements early in the morning before work and then breaking the other volume up into mini sessions that had one movement each, usually for a total of two to four sessions a day. I actually liked this way better because I felt fresher for each movement.

Put It All Together

I'll use my own training as an example because it has evolved. I train with mainly submaximal volume, using compound movements with a very small amount of accessory work. I compete geared, but a large part of my training is raw in preparatory blocks of training as well as when I don't have the ability to work with training partners. I have access to a gym or weight room six days a week and one of those days gives me a reliable set of training partners as well as a greater variety of equipment to choose from. The amount of time I can allow myself to train on each day can't exceed two hours. Often, I like to keep my sessions shorter. I need to be home at reasonable times to help my wife with our son, and I also have to be able to fit training around work schedules, which can be many hours during certain periods of the year.

With this in mind, I've decided to train frequently over six days a week. Three of these days (Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday) are at Tampa Barbell with my training partners. On these days, I can wear gear if I need to. My other days (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) are at the high school. The weight room I have access to contains everything I need to get a quality training session in. On these days, I train alone, and possibly over more than one session, around what my schedule may be.

Understand that this is how I have broken up my training and it fits what I need. However, by assessing your own situation, you can design your training to fit your life as opposed to making your life fit your training. While many of us love training, we have to put things into perspective and understand that it's something many of us are lucky to be able to partake in.