What drives you?  Is there an endeavour you’re involved in that requires you to exert yourself mentally, physically or emotionally?  Or even all three?  If your answer is yes, then something is driving you to continue, because what you’re doing isn’t easy.  That something driving you is your purpose.  Without a purpose, it is almost impossible to exert yourself in a significant way.

purpose

[ˈpərpəs]

NOUN

  1. the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.
    “The purpose of the meeting is to appoint a trustee” · [more]
    synonyms:
    motive · motivation · grounds · cause · impetus · occasion · reason · point · [more]

VERB

formal

  1. have as one’s intention or objective.

For anyone who works out, the overarching purpose of training is to cause adaptation(s).   Once this is understood, you need to discover or decide your own purpose.  Causing adaptation(s) is the purpose of training, but what is your purpose for causing these adaptations?  This will determine many of the variables (what exercises you will use, how many sets/reps you will do, what intensity(-ies) you will use, etc.) of your training program, but just as importantly, it is what will drive you to follow that program and keep you working in the gym.

Be Specific

The more specific your purpose, the more it will drive you and the more it will help with the design (or the choosing) of your training program.  For instance, you might start by saying your purpose is just to “be healthy.”  Well, the key to being really healthy is being strong.  When you train to increase the amount of force and power your muscles can produce,  this process will cause adaptations to all the subsystems of the body to support the increased work capacity.

In order for you to produce more force, your cardiovascular system must improve its efficiency to get nutrients to your muscles better, your metabolism must improve to get energy to your muscles better, your motor cortex and neuromuscular system must improve integration to use the muscles more efficiently, your endocrine system must improve to ensure recovery from the work, an on and on.  So now you know that to be healthier, you need to be stronger.  You’re slowly zeroing in on your purpose.

Now that you know that you need to get stronger, designing/selecting a training program becomes easier.  You’re going to want a program that contains the barbell bench press and barbell back squat (Powerlifting or Olympic Style) or front squat.  Deadlifts and Military Presses would be good to round out the main exercises; pull-ups (or pull-downs), bent over rows and sit-ups would also be good assistance exercises.  Squats, presses and deadlifts are high Force exercises, which is the key to increasing maximum strength.  If Power is important for your purpose, you \will also want to include power clean & jerks and power snatches, which are the most effective exercises for developing speed-strength and strength-speed —the physiological abilities of power.  To increase strength, you’ll want to include plenty of work with high intensity and low-reps.  These are just some basic facts about the way training variables will look for developing strength.  It’s clear that the more defined your purpose is, the easier it will be to design/select a training program.

So why do you really want to be strong?  If you’re an older person with a family, it might be to really enjoy your time with your grandchildren and/or keep up on vacation when the family is on an adventure.  If you’re an athlete, it might be to be more effective in competition. If you are a busy professional, it might be to have the energy to power through everyday efficiently. If you are a fire-fighter or EMT professional, it might even be the fact that other people’s lives depend on your ability to perform. The stronger you are, the safer other people around you will be.  All of these are examples of specific purposes that can really drive someone.

The takeaway here is that you need to zero in on what your own purpose for training is.  Working out week after week is pretty hard, especially when you have other commitments.  In order to fully commit to every session, you need a purpose.  So what is yours?

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