The Art of Flexible Programming (How to Train for Life)

Wouldn’t it be nice if life conformed to your training schedule?

Just create the perfect program, train at your daily mental and physical peak, and make epic gains. Everything else takes a back seat. House burning down? Doesn’t matter, you’re training!

Yeah it would be nice, but life doesn’t work this way (unless you’re a pro athlete or otherwise gym rat).

Life is always taking new twists and turns. New challenges and obstacles are always sure to pop up. New time-constraints are the norm, not the exception.

Thus is life, and life doesn’t really care about your training goals. Putting food on the table, raising kids, and just about everything else seems to come first.

Could you imagine?

Customer: “Hey, I’m interested in your product, can you tell me more?”

You: “No, gotta go train bro.”


Kid: “Daddy, will you be at my recital?”

You: “No, gotta train kid. Next time.”

Yeah, right.

But don’t worry, there’s a solution. You can make gains. And you can live your life.

Enter Flexible Programming.

The Art of Planning for Success and Having Flexibility

Planning is making plans to do something.

You must have a plan, or else you’re just a feather in the wind.


“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

-Mike Tyson

You also need flexibility.

You need to be able to take that punch and keep going, because that punch may have caused you to have a change of plans. Indeed, that punch may have opened up a cut that caused you to go on the defensive instead of the offensive to win the fight.

Basically, you need plan for the future and have the foresight to look ahead and see what might happen… while adapting to the surprises that pop up.

How to Keep Your Programming Flexible

Combine planning with adaptability.

You plan and see what’s coming. And even if you don’t see what’s coming, you adapt and handle it without missing a step.

Ways to get started:

>> Study your schedule.

What days are bad for training? What days are good? Program based off of this.

For example, if you work Monday through Friday 9 am – 5 pm and have the weekends off:

  • Get a lot done on the weekends. Make Saturday and Sunday for bread and butter training sessions.
  • Do what you can before or after work during the week. If that means one thing a day (more on this below), so be it.
  • Be smart. Are there some things you can do during work (or other obligations) like stretching? Could you foam roll in a conference room? Can you climb some stairs during your lunch break?

>> Think about what might pop up in the future (foresight).

Of course you can’t predict the future, but you can think about what might pop up.

Is your dad’s/mom’s/brother’s/friend’s birthday coming up? Maybe you won’t be able to train that day. That’s fine. Make that an off day.

Did you just get a call that your kid is fighting at school? Well the workout might have to wait until tomorrow. It’s okay, you’ve got flexibility, and one workout is nothing when you look at the whole (think in terms of years).

>> Do at least one (training) thing a day, and more if you can.

Don’t get tripped up because and try to do several things in one day when you have limited time.

A resistance training workout. Cardio. Stretching. Foam rolling. Before you know it you get overwhelmed and you just skip it all.

Try doing one thing a day. Maybe today is a cardio/conditioning day. Tomorrow you’ll hit a resistance training workout. The day after that will be for stretching and foam rolling work etc.

If you can do one thing today, that’s good. If you can do a couple things, that’s great. But start with one and work from there.

>> Two birds, one stone.

Master the art of multitasking.

  • Take your kids out and run or walk. You get bonding time + exercise.
  • Have walking or running meetings.
  • Watch TV and do sit-ups (Bruce Lee style). Read and do sit-ups. Work and do sit-ups.
  • Listen to podcasts while training.

The possibilities are endless here.

>> Go for sustainability, longevity, and consistency.

I know… sustainability, longevity, and consistency are not sexy.

You won’t see a t-shirt or internet meme saying “BE CONSISTENT OR GO HOME!”


One who does one small thing a day will make more gains than one who does one huge thing a week.

One who does it with sustainability for a lifetime will make more gains than one who goes HAM for a year.

One who does it consistently will make more gains than one who does it intermittently.

When doing anything ask yourself:

Is this sustainable? Can I do this consistently over the long-term?

If yes, do it. If not, program better.

What Flexible Programming is Not

Flexible Programming is not an excuse to not plan at all, or even blow off training because you don’t feel like it. It’s meant to keep you consistent over a lifetime, not to keep you from actually training.

Flexible Programming also isn’t for those who are somewhat undisciplined or don’t do well with more freedom. You really need to manage yourself (if you’re programming for yourself), as you can easily go off the rails if you’re not mindful. One missed workout can turn into ten very quickly. On the flip-side, the freedom can also lead to overtraining in those with the “just do more” mindset.

Wrapping It Up

Flexible Programming gives you the freedom to make training a lifestyle without sacrificing the rest of your life.

BUT it must be used and not abused.

Freedom requires discipline.


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