The value of having a plan... a personal account of fitness success

I want to share my experience of the last “program” I used to improve my overhead pressing strength to give others an idea of how we make gains in strength after the initial improvements in fitness have stalled.

I don’t post this to celebrate my success or to brag. It has been a four year effort to achieve the baseline to attempt a program of this level.  That’s four years of dedication, sweat and strain to get closer to my goals…

My hope is that someone out there finds this interesting enough, or inspiring enough that they decide to make a better plan for achieving their fitness related goals.  Maybe that’s you…

Let me begin with the notion of a “program” in general…  A program is fundamentally different than “working out” or an “exercise schedule”.  I dive a little deeper into this notion in this post.

There are really three ways of looking at exercise:

  • A Workout 
  • A template
  • A program

A workout is an “acute” bout of physical activity that has its own value (typically mental of physical health). Workouts are great, and often the most fun type of exercise. 

A template is a weekly “rhythm” of sorts that includes different types of exercise with different foci.  The typical outcome of this type of planning is improvements in all around fitness. 

When we’re already regularly exercising and we want to make a specific improvement in one domain of fitness (strength, mobility, endurance or changes in body composition), we need a little more well thought out plan.  This plan is called a “program”.  When we program, we know what weights, sets and reps we’ll be using well ahead of each training session.

I am interested in improving my strength, as measured by an overhead press.  One of my goals for 2018 was to press a pair of 32 kilogram kettlebells for 5 reps.   I’ve had my sights set on that goal for over 3 years and I believed that I was ready to take on the challenge of getting there. 

I was provided a 5 week program by Aleks Salkin , a fellow StrongFirst instructor, who has a particular penchant for cooking up effective programs in kettlebell and bodyweight strength training. 


here’s an example of a workout from that program:

Here are my numbers prior to and following the program:



Post test

Double KB Press

28’s for 8

32’s for 5 and 36’s for 1

Bent over KB row

32’s for 10

32’s for 12

Double KB front squat

32’s for 10

32’s for 15

Leg raise to l-sit on rings



Neutral grip Pull ups (the “random” test movement)




As you can see, I made improvements in all movements in the program, as well as a non-trained movement (the pull up).  

As in many things in life, we can’t control the outcome directly, but we can control the process.  

I hit all 14 of my planned sessions in this 5 week span.  My reward for this dedication and hard work was achieving a specific goal that I have been striving to reach for almost four years. 

As the great Napoleon Hill said: “plan your work, and work your plan”.  You’ll be rewarded with the intrinsic value of exercise, and continue to make progress.  


Here’s a video of my overhead press retesting after the program:

I went for a 6th rep, but it wasn’t there that day!


~Mark Reinke

They’ve given me the title Personal Training Director, but I really just love to help acac members and give my team the tools they need to do the same.  I graduated with a B.S. in Human Physiology and Biology from the University of Oregon and M.A. in teaching from Willamette University. I have over 15 years experience personal training and have also taught anatomy, physiology and biology. I love spending time outdoors with my family and growing, cooking, serving and eating great food.  Learn more about me and read more of my blogs on our website

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About Mark

I am a busy guy; husband, father, coach, mentor, gardener, outdoors man and cook are the primary hats I wear. To be the best of these I can be, I stay physically prepared for all those pursuits, and feed myself in a way that allows me to keep up the pace. I can help you to take the next manageable step in fitness and wellness to get you closer to your ideal self.