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What Makes an Effective Workout?

An effective workout doesn't happen in isolation. Progress, not soreness or fatigue, is the only measure of good programming.


I receive a lot of email newsletters from all over the world. I subscribe to them because I like reading and I believe in learning. In fact, the amount of money I have spent on education over the years would probably buy me a small house.

The fastest way, however, to encourage me to delete an email or even unsubscribe from the list, is a subject line or first few lines that say something like “3 Killer workouts”, “This workout will get you pumped” or something similar.

This is what I call the bootcamp approach to fitness. I am not a fan and neither should you. Here's why...

Bootcamp Fitness

The only goal in the bootcamp approach is completion of the immediate workout. The success measure when you use this approach is how sore you are the next day or how long it took you to walk back to the car or even how much you were sick in the car park afterwards.

We live in a world where it seems that nobody takes the long view. It’s all about having it now. Can my credit card buy it?

Sadly for our attention-deficit society, this is not how our bodies work.

A Better Way

I choose a different path, one that approaches your desired result by creating a proggramme that will virtually guarantee that you achieve it. To quote strength programming guru Paul McIlroy: “Progress is the ONLY barometer of programme success."

In order to get a result in your sport, you need to plan what you’re going to do & execute that plan. You need to accept that while some results might come quickly, others will take time and dedicated effort to achieve. One single workout, no matter how hard it is, contributes only a very little bit to the long term result.

Success is the sum of all the "little things" you do every day. Getting fitter for something specific requires that you balance your training stress, your life stress and your recovery (or as I prefer to call it, "regeneration") time. It's about looking at the demands of the event and training to deal with those demands, even if your event is simply living day to day, pain-free and able to play chase with your kids.

No matter how many prophets of instant results you consult, you will always discover in the end that all they were selling you was a lie.


An effective workout is part of a larger picture, one in which the only measure of success is progress.

The secret to longer term success is always having an eye on the overall plan and executing every workout as only a part of the plan. Any time you deviate and let your ego take over, you derail the the overall plan.

Success isn't getting sweaty, sore & tired today. It's the result of the sum of what you do in every workout day after day.

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Will Newton

In over twenty years of coaching, Will has coached everyone from absolute beginners to world champions. His interest in getting the best results for athletes who compete for the love of the sport, rather than as professionals, drives him to find the most effective ways to get results.

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