Many guys on this site have done one of RealJock's 12-week workout programs, such as my Strong and Lean 12-Week Workout Program or the Muscle-Building 12-Week Workout Program. I am so proud of all of you who have made changes in your bodies and your lives! But once you complete one of these program, you may have a feeling of "Now what"? Don't worry—that moment arrives any time you complete a workout program. Try to see it as an opportunity to evaluate where you are and decide where to go next. With that in mind, I have some tips for "What Now"? Here are some thoughts on what to do when you get to the end of a workout like the Strong and Lean:
Before you launch into a new program, or decide to start the workout over from the beginning, take stock of where you are. This will include:
- Take a step back and look at your current goals. Are they the same as when you started that program? Hopefully not! So where do you want your next three months of workouts to take you? (For goal-setting, you might consult a piece I wrote recently on this topic.)
- Assess the state of your body. How do you feel, and where do you feel it? Perform some concrete evaluations of strength and flexibility. For this, I recommend using my stretch test and my core strength test. Use these results as a baseline for figuring where the focus of your next workout program should be, in terms both of areas of your body and in terms of the question of strength versus flexibility.
- Take a hard look at your schedule and see how stressed out you currently are with work, the economy, and so on. If you are over-stressed right now, it is a good time to use your workouts more for recovery and regenerating energy for a bit. If this makes you nervous that you won't be ready for swimsuit season, think outside the gym. You can trim your body and restore your mind through a little exposure to nature, and this is a great time of year to start to bike, run, swim, hike, do summer sports—and bootcamps.
- Resistance Training Workouts: If you are ready to address the imbalances in your body that you will discover with my stretch test and my core strength test, I recommend looking at the resistance-training Weight Loss Challenge 12-Week Workout and ramping it up from day one to your difficulty level. This workout may seem easier, but by adding the correct levels of resistance and eliminating the rest between sets, you can get an amazing workout from it. Feel free to email me at email@example.com for detailed advice.
- Strong and Lean 12-Week Workout: If you are looking to slim down for summer, try doing the Strong and Lean 12-week Workout Program, but do it with the aid of a professional nutritionist. Often we lose the benefits of our workouts at the dinner table. With the right nutritionist, you can see great new gains from your workouts.
- Muscle Building 12-week Workout Program: If your goal is to bulk up, try the Muscle Building 12-week Workout Program, which focuses on putting on bulk as opposed to athletic training. Three months is enough time to see some size gains from this program—it is definitely worth a run-through.
- Regenerative Workouts: If you are over-stressed right now, I recommend taking a breather by trying four to six weeks focused on more regenerative workouts. This will mean outdoor training, yoga, stretching, and tai chi—workouts that focus on the mind-body connection. Do not worry that you will lose muscle mass. In fact, with the stress reduction and a correct diet you will actually hold onto your muscle mass more than if you over-work each day and then stack over-training on top of that! In a high-stress environment, your body tends to store fat and eat muscle to survive. Slowing down when you're stressed—while remaining active in the right ways—will let you maintain muscle and keep fat (especially stress-induced visceral fat) under control.
- Outdoor Workouts: Before you launch into a new workout program of lifting and cardio machines, think about heading outside. You may just be sick of the gym. With better weather, you have an opportunity to get outside and try out a new sport. Keep things in perspective—the gym will always be there when you're ready to lift. But before you recommit to another 12-week program, maybe you need a few weeks of outdoor training. Now is the time. Go for it. We'll be here when you get back.
About Billy Polson: Billy Polson is co-founder of the award-winning Diakadi Body personal training gym and co-creator of RealJock's 12-week Workout Programs. Billy is a certified Exercise Coach through the Paul Chek Institute as well as a Certified Personal Trainer through The National Academy of Sports Medicine. Have burning questions about your fitness that you want Billy and Diakadi co-founder Mike Clausen to answer? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.