Dan John, author of all things related to lifting weights and living life, has always talked about two types of workouts, Bus Bench and Park Bench.

When you sit at a  City Bus Bench, you are on a schedule.  You are going to a specific destination.  You will be picked up at a set time, take the most direct route, and your bus ride will end at a set time, leaving you at your destination.

Sometimes, we need workouts like this.  The goal is to be achieved in a specific time frame, usually 4-8 weeks.  This type of workout is a hard push, all other goals are put to the back burner.

An example might be a 4 week fat loss program.  The time frame is set, the goal is specific, and no result other than fat loss is sought during this time.  If you ask any of my clients who have done a fat loss program, they'll all tell you- this type of working out is not sustainable; it's simply too intense to do month after month indefinitely.

The City Bus Bench simply can’t be done all the time.

When you sit at a park bench, however, you’re more relaxed.  You have nowhere to be.  You are there simply to enjoy yourself.  It's not as if you're wasting time, though.  By spending some time outside and enjoying time away from work, you enhance the quality of your life. 

Sometimes, our workouts should be like this.  We know basically what we need to do, but we just enjoy the process, going at a pace that can be sustained indefinitely.  This type of program will point you in the right direction- you'll move better, get stronger and get leaner in the long term- but specific goals will not be hit in a predetermined time frame. 

My personal favorite bench is the Greyhound Bus Bench.  This is a hybrid of the first two.  Like the city bus bench, the greyhound is taking you somewhere very specific.  Yet, this is a longer route, perhaps even scenic at times.  The Greyhound lacks the stress of the daily commuters- it’s a much more relaxed way to travel.  Similar to the park bench, you may read a book on a Greyhound, jot some thoughts down in your journal, or even take a nap. 

But even as you take time for these leisurely activities, you are still plodding methodically to your destination.

Most of our programs should look like this.  Moving us toward a specific goal, or goals, but aiming to achieve these goals over a longer time frame.  This allows us to consistently make progress without adding undue stress to our lives.  

Different seasons of life call for different types of workouts.  If you have a newborn at home, chances are high that you need a "Park Bench" workout- just find some time to move and enjoy the process without having a hard workout looming in the back of your sleep deprived brain.

There are times that the City Bus is more appropriate- perhaps you want to crank it up a notch the month or two before a beach vacation or high school reunions.  That's perfectly understandable.

There are other times- most of the time- where the Greyhound is best.  Move toward your destination, but take the scenic route.