How to Develop a Good Paleo Workout Program

By Kellyann Petrucci, Melissa Joulwan, Patrick Flynn, Adriana Harlan

A good Paleo exercise program comes from a well-developed recipe. As long as you understand the ingredients needed for the recipe, you can produce, with a fair amount of consistency, an exercise program that produces predictable and repeatable results.

A fitness program is like a recipe in more than one way. For example, even a cook with very little experience can prepare a decent dish as long as he accurately follows a recipe. And so, too, can a person with very little fitness experience have great results as long as he accurately follows a well-thought-out program.

To construct a successful exercise program, you need ingredients that are simple, sensible, and reasonable.

Simple

Simplicity is the key ingredient. The secret to a good exercise program is to strip it down to the fundamentals and leave it at that. The more clutter an exercise program accumulates, the less potent it becomes. Don’t let your exercise program look like a teenager’s bedroom. Keep it clean.

A good exercise program is neat, tidy, and organized. It’s uncluttered. It’s not busy solely for the sake of being busy. It focuses on the vital few efforts that produce the biggest results. It ignores the trivial things.

Simplicity also aids in sanity. A cluttered exercise program can feel, and often is, overwhelming, which is no doubt why many people quit. But a simple exercise program is efficient and tidy. It includes only the exercises that allow you to derive the greatest benefit (depending on your goals) and that require the least amount of time necessary for you to reach those goals.

An exercise program improves in direct proportion to the number of things you can keep out of it that don’t need to be there.

Sensible

Sensible means the program is designed to directly assist you in hitting your goals. It makes sense. It’s logical. It has progressions, and, if necessary, regressions.

If your goal is to gain strength, the exercise program should provide a clear, uncluttered path toward that goal. A series of proven progressions should take you from where you are to where you want to be in the quickest time possible.

Many fitness programs aren’t designed with an end goal in mind and are too often a hodgepodge of various exercises and modalities, strung together with no apparent rhyme or reason — and so you wind up with a sort of tapioca.

An exercise program shouldn’t have in it variety solely for the sake of having variety, any more than it should be busy solely for the sake of being busy. It should, instead, feature the least number of components necessary to get you to your goals. That’s efficiency. That’s sensibility.

Reasonable

Reasonable means it’s something you can handle, especially in the long term. Too many programs burn you out too quickly because they’re unsustainable.

The popularity of “insane” fitness programs is surging. Although the idea of working out until you’re blue in the face may sound enticing, it’s not necessarily such a wise idea, nor is it necessary.

Intense exercise is best served in small to moderate doses. Cellular recovery happens on its own accord and can’t be rushed. Not naturally, at least. When you put too much stress on the system for too long — when recovery can’t keep up with stress — then you suffer burnout, overtraining, and failure.

The problem with unreasonable exercise programs is that although they may work in the short term, they do just as much, if not more, harm than good in the long run due to their unsustainable and insensible practices that put too much strain on both the body and the mind.

You must approach a fitness program thinking of the long term. Doing so isn’t such an easy task, because people want results, and they want them quickly. But take a step back before beginning any fitness program and honestly ask yourself, “Do I see myself doing this program six months from now? A year? Ten years?” If the answer to any of these questions is no, it’s time to pause and reconsider what you’re doing.