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The Kraken Files February 2019: Get a Program You Bum

This month, Steph rambles on about programming.

Do it yourself, or get it from us. notes: Of course we want you to use ours, but we don’t edit our authors.

Steph gives some great advice, but we are here to help if you need it. 


I am not going to lie, I spent a lot of time this month thinking about what to write about.

I’ve been doing this column for at least 2 years or more, and I was feeling like I have covered about everything I had something to say about (hard to believe, I know).

However, upon looking around the gym at both the newbie lifters and lifters I’ve seen for months/years, I stumbled upon a subject I feel I can throw my two cents in on, which is writing one’s own training programs (or having a program in general, either from online or a coach) and then keeping a journal/notebook of progress and observations on that training.


So I am at the gym.

I am carrying my gym bag to every lifting station, along with my folder and pen.

I have my folder out, and I know what exercises I plan to do next, and what my rough goals are (based off last week’s performance which I have noted in the left column).

I am doing sets, then writing down reps and weights for each.

I look around.

I am literally usually the only person doing this, except for a few powerlifters.

I recognize that the casual and new lifters may not want or need programming and tracking.

Often, they are there to feel better, be a little more active, lose some weight, etc.  They are not on a mission to gain muscle mass or lift heavier and heavier weights.  I also understand that not everyone is an anal-retentive spaz like me, who is almost OCD in her need to show improvement and progress, all while improving efficacy of exercises as well as efficiency.

Let’s face it: for many, the way I lift takes the “fun” out of lifting (although to me setting goals, reaching them, and seeing my body change IS the fun in lifting).

On the other side of the coin, the powerlifters are used to recording everything.

They are always programming, basing new cycles off old PR’s, increasing weight and decreasing reps over time, or varying lifts but always looking to either increase weight at a previous number of reps, or increase reps at a previous weight.

Tracking and programming is like breathing to many of them.

But what about everyone else?

What about serious lifters, figure, physique, bodybuilding, even just non-competing serious weightlifters?

Get a Program You Bum!

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I feel like these groups would often highly benefit from structured training and tracking of that training.  I will go so far as to argue that most lifters able to commit to 3-5x a week, every week, of training would benefit from some structure.

However, as I look around, I see a lot of people lifting, and hard, but not necessarily with the best efficiency or ability to advance their lifting, because they are not paying attention to what they are doing over time.

Many are stuck in the same old ruts, doing the same things, then wondering why nothing ever changes as far as progress.

I know, I know……opinions are like assholes, and by that logic I should have 1,000,000 useless assholes, but the same people that think I am being overbearing are the same people that ask me why they look the same year after year, ask why they can’t “grow” a body part, or just grow in general.  They are the people who ask me why they can’t decrease body fat and increase muscle mass, but who are literally doing the same damn workout the same way every day, every week, for years on end.

Here is a good question for you:

How the hell can you improve performance if you do not even know what your performance level is, for any exercise, at any weight, right now?!?!?

You need a BASELINE, and then to KEEP TRACK. (Once you have a few weeks under your belt, you can start playing with sets, reps, types of movements, supersets, giant sets, tempo work, etc…..the list is endless.) To get a baseline, you need a program of some sort.  Then you can start keeping track…..and increasing weights or reps over time, watching for plateaus, then making modifications over time to variables of that program.

The other bonus of tracking is not only can you record weight and reps for a certain exercise, so you can compare it to performance down the road, but you can also make observations.

  • What exercises seemed more effective than others?
  • Which ones made you sore the next day?
  • Which ones actually hurt and may need spaced apart or modified to avoid injury?
  • Which combinations of weights and reps “got” you the best?
  • Which exercises did not seem to do much for you?
  • Do you respond better to high rep sets, or lower reps?
  • What works and does not work FOR YOU?


I approach lifting like a science.

I need goals, and to track progress in the direction of those goals.  Lifting is hard work, and if my goal is to gain muscle mass, I want to GAIN MUSCLE MASS, as effectively and efficiently as possible.  I don’t want to half-ass the planning part of lifting, then bust my ass for crappy results, when I could instead keep track and THINK it out a little, and actually get where I want to go with it.

Why expend all that time and effort just to spin your wheels in place for months or years?!?!

I get it if you are a casual or social lifter, but for fuck’s sake, if you consider yourself a serious student of lifting, at least think about self-programming and keeping track.  If you hate it, fine, just learn a few things and move on, but at least give it a shot.  It is not that hard to create a split, then a lifting template, and go from there, so give it a whirl, by golly.

And remember: my columns are my OPINIONS, OBSERVATIONS, AND SUBJECTIVE.

I am not “right” or “wrong”, I am just throwing shit out there for your consideration.  After all, I am the 45 year old hermit who wears a wallet on a chain, has a mullet, still watches cartoons on loop, collects toys, and has 4 dogs.

I may not be the authority on ANYTHING…..but then again, I may know just a little bit about lifting. 😉

And if you are clueless as to how or where to start with programming, lucky you, CAN HOOK YOU UP WITH PROGRAMMING RIGHT ON THIS VERY SITE!!

The site features programs, video courses, a full video exercise library and waaaayyy more.

It’s so easy, even a hobo like me can use it.  





by: Stephanie Tomlinson

AND for your enjoyment, please LOVE this video of me training, and my SWEET boots.



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