Are your workouts random or varied?


Throughout this pandemic, a lot of people have been faced with the inverse of the typical problem regarding exercise – not having enough time. Almost everybody has been subject to some form of lockdown over the past year or so, which in our observation has led to people trying other forms of exercise that they wouldn’t ordinarily partake in.

We understand that some people may want to try something different, and we’d fully support any of our clients that wish to do so – something to be mindful of though, particularly if you have a personal trainer, is if and how it fits into the current cycle or long-term plan.

Personal trainers spend a lot of time and energy conjuring up detailed plans and programmes, and sometimes a spontaneous or random form of exercise may not be suitable for the current cycle or plan. The value of a personal trainer is that they focus solely on the individual and their goals. A class may have an overall objective such as metabolic conditioning or flexibility, but it’s going to be a generalised approach, with little regard for the long term. If you have a personal trainer and you’d like to try something different, we’d advise asking them what would be beneficial for you; that way you can try something different, and it will be complimentary to your overall plan.

Variance vs randomness

It’s easy to get confused between variance and randomness, but we believe in variance.

A random approach might use a hopper system for programming.

A varied approach might consider tweaking the exercises and movements and should consider how it all fits into the long-term plan.  Coming up with workouts on the fly or repeatedly doing our favourite workouts with our favourite exercises will inevitably lead to biased programming and significant imbalances in the 10 components of fitness.

A random approach might see a video about pilates and decide to take up a pilates class without any consideration for how it fits into the current programme.

A varied approach could be more objective factoring in data from fitness assessments, the current cycle and area/s of focus, and figure out how to make it work within the current programme or wait until the cycle is over before implementing a new protocol.

A random approach might select any number of exercises without paying any attention to the order of the exercises, or the number of repetitions and sets. A varied approach could intentionally manipulate the number and order of exercises, the number of repetitions, sets etc. for the current area/s of focus.

What could we vary?

– Load
– Duration
– Intensity
– Movements
– Speed of movements
– Repetitions
– Sets
– Time of day
– Environment


– Really short, heavy workouts
– Really long, heavy workouts
– Really short, light workouts
– Really long, light workouts
– Ascending repetition scheme
– Descending repetition scheme
– Combining pushing and pulling movements
– Combining only pushing movements
– Combining only pulling movements
– Doing a workout in a hot environment
– Doing a workout in a cold environment
– Doing a workout early in the morning
– Doing a workout late at night
– Doing a workout at a high altitude
– Doing a workout at a low altitude

As you can see, there’s an infinite number of ways to programme workouts and that’s why we believe programming is an art. A random approach might work in the short term, but it’s unlikely to be effective in the long-term.


We highly value consistency, because in our experience, consistency is often the difference between a client achieving their goals or not. We could design the best programme, but if the client doesn’t execute it, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on.

In our opinion, six weeks is the minimum amount of time needed to determine whether a programme is effective or not, however, eight to twelve weeks would provide more conclusive data. With that in mind, it’s easy to understand why most people struggle to get results – either they give up too soon, or they aren’t measuring their progress and adapting and varying their programme enough to keep them engaged and coming back for more.

We are proud of the fact that we have some clients that have been with us for over a decade! This speaks to the efficacy and variance of our programming, because nobody would stick around for such a long period of time if they weren’t seeing results, or if the programming lacked variance.

We regularly conduct fitness assessments to assess if the programme is in fact working and moving the client closer toward their goals.  The result of the fitness assessment is measured against the 10 components of fitness, which is what will then guide our area/s of focus until the next fitness assessment.  In-between fitness assessments we vary the workouts as much as possible within the parameters of the area/s of focus, and after each fitness assessment we vary the cycle based on which components need the most attention.  This approach ensures that we don’t become too heavily weighted in any one component of the 10 components of fitness; there’s a certain degree of variance within the programming and cycles to keep the client engaged over the long-term; and the client’s time is being used most effectively to help them achieve their goals.

In conclusion

For us, there’s two critical components to any exercise programme:

1) The programme is effective, is the best use of the individual’s time, and it helps them achieve their goals.

2) The individual wants to come back for the next workout i.e., the workouts aren’t so easy that the individual barely has to exert any effort, and they’re not so difficult that they want to give up. Just below the threshold of impossible is the sweet spot.

In our opinion, most people stray off the path because they lack the above. Randomly cherry-picking workouts from social media or YouTube isn’t going ensure that you have the best possible scores across the 10 components of fitness. We’d encourage a varied and structured approach, coupled with accountability and consistency.

Thank you for reading this post

We truly hope that you found part one valuable. If you have any questions or if you’d like to work with one of our experienced personal trainers, please feel free to contact us

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