The Art of Being Flexible with Your Training Part 2: Including REF into Your Programming











In Part 1, Read HERE, we talked about:

  • Touched briefly on lifestyle factors affecting your training
  • Treating your body like a garden
  • A better way to gauge your intensity during your training

Monday rolls around, you have your weekly training all planned out, your excited, can’t wait to get off work to smell the iron and lift some weight.

Your day ends up being very stressful, your boss needs you to stay late, you hit some traffic on your way to the gym, and when you finally get there, that mental arousal and drive you had in the morning is gone.

You are mentally and physically drained from the day.

But you feel guilty because your training week is planned, you have squats today, and if you push it back your week will be messed up.

So what now? Do you just fight the fatigue and train? Do you take the day off? Do you train at a different intensity?

Enter the training REF-eree… You know, kind of like a football referee 😉


REF…Realistic, Enjoyable, and Flexible

Eric Helms talked about REF in his Muscle and Strength Video Series. Before you plan out your program and weekly training schedule, you need to take these 3 factors into consideration:



If you consider REF into your training programming,  your weekly training sessions will be planned better and your daily training sessions will be more productive and this will thus lead to more results.

Peaks and Valleys with Training Progress

Just like any endeavor in life we wish things could happen in a straight line. Unfortunately life just doesn’t work out that way and the same goes for your training.

You are going to go through peaks and valleys in your training, but the main premise should be that your peaks are exceeding your older peaks and your valleys are exceeding your older valleys.

This way you are slowly, but surely ensuring progress within your training over time.

Not a lot of people want to put up with this slow and hard grind within training to ensure progress and get results.

We find that too many people look at their 8-16 week training blocks in a microscope. They expect to put on 50 lbs on their squats, bench, and deadlifts after each training block. Just really think about this…that means someone would potentially put on 225 total pounds to their main lifts each year…that’s just not realistic.


Another form of impatience we see is this:

Have you ever been pissed at yourself for not completing that last rep or perhaps skipping that last set because you just weren’t feeling it that day?

This goes in hand with any periodization model and that’s to not get so wrapped up in one down day or performance. For example, you plan on hitting 3 sets of squats for 8 reps at a specific load and on the third set you come up 2 reps short. Don’t let this ruin your day, its 1 day of fluctuation in the grand scheme of things. There will always be another day.

One down day or performance isn’t going to impede your strength or muscle growth gains. Look at the big picture of the training block or program and just be prepared to do your job the next training day.

We see this all the time and we are firm believers if you incorporate REF into your training programming you will have a different perspective on your overall training, programming, and getting results.

Enter the Biggest Underrated Factor in Training…“Consistency”

If you take a look at the picture below, you will see that consistency is first in the hierarchy of what’s most important when it comes to training.

Now, there’s no evidence to back up this picture. We put this together based off of our own experience, training clients in person, working with coaches, mentorships, programming online clients training, through higher institutional education and self-education, and trial and error.

But just think about this for a second and you’ll see why consistency is so underrated…

Some workouts will suck. Some workouts will be awesome, leaving you feeling like a beast. Most workouts will be mediocre, and that’s okay. Lots of mediocre workouts mean progress overtime. Strength happens as a consequence of patience, gradual, and consistent improvements.

Don’t force gains out. Allow them to happen over time and if you have a bad day…so what? Maybe you have a good day… so what to that too. Relax and let it happen over time with quality training, experience, consistency, and hard work.




Take Home Points:

  • Include REF into your training…Realistic, Enjoyment and Flexibility
  • Look at the grand scheme of things within your programming and realize peaks and valleys with progress will occur more often than you think
  • Remember the hierarchy of training picture and keep in mind how important it is to be consistent

Think about how incorporating REF into your training programming can be a game changer for being realistic with your training, enjoying your training, having flexibility within your training, understanding peaks and valleys within training, being consistent, and eventually keep making progress within your training.



Need Help Incorporating REF Into Your Training Program?

If you want personalized help with programming a realistic, enjoyable, and flexible training program, you can work directly with us. Click HERE to get started.


Special Thanks to Eric Helms for letting us reference his concepts. To view the entire video click HERE.  He’s also releasing a book that goes more into depth on this concept as well as other training related matters. For more info click HERE.