Understanding a Program’s Intended Stimulus

Every time you prepare for a workout, whether at Locomotion or somewhere else, it’s important to understand the intended stimulus behind that particular workout. This might mean what the programmer is intending for you to do, but it could also mean YOUR intention in working out that day. In either scenario, the stimulus is the key to getting the most out of your training.  To improve our fitness, we need to vary the stimulus.  What does this mean and how does it apply to you?

Different workouts in your fitness program, or even workouts that are outwardly similar to another that you’ve completed, can be designed with different intentions. Sometimes we want to improve strength by focusing on lifting as heavy as possible.  Other times we want to work on lactic acid flushing, so we will work really hard for a short period of time and give ourselves a long rest period to recover.  Some workouts are just meant to be really difficult so we can work on our mental toughness and positive self-talk.  Understanding the programmer’s intent of the day is very important in order to make that workout more meaningful and move you further toward your fitness goals! Without this understanding, you are losing out on important development and gains.

Here is a practical example: Let’s say the workout of the day is to run one mile. It seems simple, but adjusting the intention will make it feel completely different! If we run it for time, we’re going to run it as fast as possible without thinking about anything else.  If we run it for quality, we may be focusing more on our form and technique in order to prevent injuries or to make our running more efficient in the future.  If we run it for recovery, the intent is to help us cool down from another workout. All of these are the same workout just approached differently.

First and foremost, we want you to feel good.  We don’t want you to come in and beat the crap out of your body! Some days your intent may not match the programmer’s intent.  If it’s a day where we’re meant to go heavy but you feel tired, overtrained, or stressed, your intention might be to move through the workout and recover more than to go super heavy. That’s fine! The important thing is to have an intention to go into the workout, your own plan of attack.

The takeaway from this? If the intention isn’t made clear, ask a coach! They will explain to you what the programmer’s stimulus is that day, listen to how you feel, and make sure your workout fits you and your fitness goals.  Trust them to guide you forward and improve your fitness through intention and variation. 


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