Stop Trying to Be Good At Everything

One of the hardest lessons for those just jumping into exercise programming for the first time is learning that you simply can’t create a program that “does it all”.

I.e. that powerlifting/hypertrophy/endurance/crossfit program that you just wrote, while looking good on paper…isn’t going to pan out when you go and try and apply it to a lifter.

Your best progress is always going to be seen when you hone in on one particular training focus at a time, and here’s why.

1. Conflict of Interest

Programming runs on the base idea of specificity. This very simply means that your training should be specific to whatever it is your goal is. This is straight forward to accomplish when you only have one goal, however things fall apart when you try to balance to many training focuses at once.

For example, think about the very popular idea of making a “powerbuilding program”. This combines strength goals with hypertrophy goals. While you CAN absolutely make such a program, it’s never going to be as good at being a strength program as if you focused only on powerlifting, and it’s never going to be as good a hypertrophy program as if you only focused on bodybuilding.

When you build a program with multiple goals you have to sacrifice somewhere in the program to accommodate for it. This is fine if you’re in no particular rush for progress, or training this way is enjoyable for you. But if you’re really looking for the most “bang for your buck” pick one focus and lean into it.

2. There’s Only So Much Time in a Day

From a much more practical standpoint, trying to keep multiple training goals going fails to work because when it comes down to it, you only have so much time, and not to mention energy to work with in a given day.

This can best be seen in a newer training challenge that you may see pop up time to time which is combining traditional resistance strength training, with an endurance goal like running.

Again, this IS possible. There’s examples of athletes training themselves to hit 500lb squats and sub 5 minute miles within the same day, however, is this practical for most individuals probably not…

Fitting in strength training to a busy life style can already be a challenge in and of itself, let alone trying to fit a whole other different style of training on top of it. This can leave you feeling stressed, overworked, and like you can never catch a break, ultimately leading to even the most devoted athletes giving up on fitness altogether.

3. Recovery

Much like you only have so much time to work with within a given day, your body can only recover from so much training stimulus at a given time.

I find when athletes try to focus on multiple training goals they write gigantic programs with tons of training volume, very little rest, and usually high training intensity to boot. Then they start to wonder why all of their training progress is only trending downwards.

You can train yourself to do some pretty incredible things, but you have to slowly build up the work capacity to be able to do so in the first place. Hybrid programs, or programs that focus on trying to make an athlete good at absolutely everything, tend to accomplish the exact opposite…

Athletes are often left unable to properly recover, feeling discouraged, and worse off in all of their training disciplines as opposed to better off.

Matt Molloy

Matt Molloy

I'm a graduate the University of Pittsburgh with a major in Exercise Science. I’m a local guy (North Penn) and athletics has dominated my life. I've led teams in basketball, baseball, soccer, golf and my passion, long distance running. I've been strength training for 6 years with a focus in power-lifting but have recently stretched to strongman since joining the pride here at the Den. When I’m not in the gym I enjoy, spending time with my friends, music, and relaxing and playing some video games.