This is an excerpt from Big & Bold: Strength Training for the Plus-Size Woman by Morit Summers & Morit Summers.
In chapter 2, we talked about why and how to set a goal. Let’s take your goal and talk about how it determines what kind of workout plan you take on. If I want to run a marathon, I shouldn’t be swimming every day. If I want to be able to do push-ups, I’m going to need to do push-ups. If you want to get stronger, you need to lift. If you want to move faster, you need to lift and then work on power. The goal that you pick helps determine the direction in which your plan takes you. Simply put, if you want to work on an upper-body strength goal, your program needs to lean heavily toward upper-body strength. If you are looking to increase your back squat or deadlift, your program is going to have to lean heavily toward those movements and the lower body. As a reminder, your body and muscles don’t work independently from each other. This means that even with wanting to improve push-ups or pull-ups or the upper body in general, I still need to work on the lower body and core. It’s never a good idea to only do one thing. It is, however, okay to lean more heavily toward something.
Repetition and practice are always necessary to get better at something; exercise and strength are no different. Our bodies adapt over time. We become more comfortable with movements and weights. Let’s say that you are a beginner who wants to get stronger with a focus on being able to do 10 full push-ups, and you have the availability to work out three times a week. You want a plan that incorporates three full-body strength days. In chapter 7, there are a few examples of training plans that could work for you, but if you have a goal of doing push-ups, you need to be doing push-ups. As a beginner, pick variations that work for you. For example, a hands elevated push-up helps you focus on your range of motion and form. After a few weeks of patterning the movement and increasing your repetitions, you realize it’s time to take the incline down, and you continue this pattern until you are doing push-ups on the floor. Maybe one day a week you are doing hands elevated push-ups, and another day during the week you are working on your planks. Remember a push-up is a plank with motion, so working on your plank helps you get to your goal. All movements can relate to one another. Figuring out what feels weak for you helps determine what movements you put in your program to help hit your goals. If I go to perform a push-up and my stomach is drooping, I should be working on holding my core strong. If I go to do a push-up and my chest and triceps give out, maybe I need to add more chest exercises. When I first started powerlifting and I was doing more squats and bench presses, my push-ups by default got so much stronger. I was generally getting stronger, but I was also figuring out how to create more tension in my body while doing push-ups.
If you’ve created a plan based on your goals, stuck to it for at least four weeks, and aren’t seeing any improvement, change it up. Try something different. Maybe for you the hands elevated push-up wasn’t the way to go and negative push-ups are a better idea. But, generally speaking, if you stick to something and keep practicing and get those repetitions in, you’re going to get stronger. Now that you have some idea of how to take your goal and implement it, let’s work on the steps of creating your workout plan.