Training Plan Vs Instincts

Arnold is pretty mad at somebodyOk, so today I want to write about controversial (in some circles) topic. Most of the people believe in one and totally reject the other. I’m talking about planning your training sessions versus going by feel, believing your instincts and intuition. Some people will say: “Planning your workouts? Psh. Are you kidding me? I just come to [insert place where the person usually trains] and just go by feel. Planning is for nerds. Training should be fun”. Others will argue: “Planning might not be the funniest thing in the world but it gives you the chance not to screw up badly with your training and get results (because you always know what to do and what intensity will be adequate). Going by feel is for people that are so stupid that can’t even make a plan for themselves”. The battle can go on and on and everybody will remain with his/her belief. So why am I writing this? I will share with you my experience with these two types of training.

Instinctive Training

Instinctive training is when you don’t plan anything. You just come to gym/park/home gym and do whatever you want to do with hope that you will be stronger/bigger/leaner next time. What is interesting – the fact that this kind of training actually works for some individuals. Of course, laws of effective training are equal for everybody. While those dudes and dudettes might think that they are training according to their instincts, in reality they are following the same principles as everybody, they just don’t know they are.

Surprisingly, a lot of people follow this type of training. In my opinion, most of them are just wasting their time. Yeah, they progress to some point, but sooner rather than later most of them hit plateau. What happens to this huge majority of trainees for whom instinctive training just doesn’t work? Some of them quit, some of them stay there, thinking that they have reached their genetic potential (yeah, right, that 75 kg bench press is definitely your genetic limit if you are stupid enough to assume that), some of them start using steroids (how unexpectedly), and the most adequate of them start educating themselves and discover planning.

Planning Your Training

As you can see, I favor planned training much more. And there’s a reason for that. As experience shows, purely instinctive training works only for guys with great genetics. Other people with average and less (like myself) do MUCH better with training plans (or programs). With training plan you have more control on what will happen with your strength and physique as a result. Start with a training log. I wrote about this before. I started seeing results from training only after I began writing everything down into my training log. After that with years of experimentation I came up with training techniques that work for me (the same I do for my clients). You should do the same. Start a training log. Pick a program and write everything down. Test-drive it for at least 4 weeks. Then analyze the data and decide whether this approach works for you or not.

So planned training is the best and instinctive one is crap, right? Not so fast.

The Truth

Well, the truth is as always in the middle. Both types have their place in training regimens of athletes and regular fitness enthusiasts (at least in different periods of their training carrier). Nowadays I use both of them. I can’t go just by feel because I will turn myself into skinny fat weak bastard. So I always plan my workouts. However, plans tend to go wrong sometimes. That is when you need to listen to yourself (of course, if you are able to hear what your body says to you). This is optimal for me. You need to find what works for you. So I will wrap up here. Thanks for reading. Share the stuff with friends and don’t forget to comment (I love reading those bad boys). Feel free to contact me.

Play rough!


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8 thoughts on “Training Plan Vs Instincts

  1. Jonathan F.V.

    Hi! I think that the best is probably to make a training plan for yourself, but one you can easily adapt accordingly to your instinct. A training plan that you can’t change and that doesn’t account for variations and imprevisibilities is just as bad as having no plan at all.

  2. Malcolm

    Hey Alex, I don’t use a set plan since I started predominantly doing whole body work outs, I use movement patterns, each workout will include a squat, press, pull,
    hip hinge, lunge, and weighted carry, I will alternate between workouts vertical and horizontal press and pulls, this allows me a whole range of drills to choose from depending on how I feel on any given day but still makes sure I cover all my basic Movement patterns, also switching between set and rep schemes allows me to keep my muscles guessing.

    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      each workout will include a squat, press, pull, hip hinge, lunge, and weighted carry,

      Hey, Malcolm. Actually this IS some sort of plan.


      1. Malcolm

        True enough! I think the key (for me anyway) is to have some kind of basic template that allows for spontaneous variation. like you say somewhere between the two!

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