It’s a new year, which means many of you are probably setting new fitness goals. For a lot of guys, their goal is pretty vague — “get in shape” or “start running” or “get stronger” — and they’re not entirely sure how they’re going to get there beyond joining a gym. This is a mistake. Without a concrete plan, you just end up in the gym randomly stopping at machines to do a few reps before heading to the sauna. Any exercise is better than no exercise, but it’s even better to work out in a way that gives you real results. When you observe that you’re getting bigger/faster/stronger, it feels dang good and serves as prime motivation to keep at it. Deciding on which fitness program to follow comes with its own issues though. There are a lot of options out there, and they seem to increase at an exponential rate. Choosing one can be a confusing and overwhelming endeavor.
To help you decide on a plan to follow this year, below you’ll find descriptions of ten different programs I recommend. I’ve personally tried all but two of them, and I highlight the pros and cons of each to help you make a better decision.
The plan you ultimately choose will have to do with what your fitness goals are and what kind of exercise you enjoy the most. If you like to run, do a program that involves lots of running. If you like to lift weights, do a program that puts an emphasis on barbell training. If you like variety, do a program that regularly mixes it up. If you’re not yet entirely sure what forms of exercise you like best, I suggest experimenting with different programs (giving each at least three months) until you discover where your interests lie. That’s what I did in trying out all these different programs until I finally found the fitness discipline that I truly love (Starting Strength-style barbell training). One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that when it comes to exercise, finding something that you actually enjoy doing goes a long way in ensuring that you’ll stick with a program. And no matter which path you take, understand results only come with consistency. Show up to the gym each day and do the work. Regardless of whether or not you’re “in the mood.”
Here’s to a stronger and fitter year!