I would imagine many people started their weight training program the same way I did. With no internet access, nobody to teach me how to structure a training regime, or any material to learn from, I simply picked and chose which muscle groups I felt like training on any particular day. Of course, being new to training most days were chest, arms or shoulders. There was no appreciation for overall body training or resting muscles, merely focusing on the muscles I thought would look cool developed.
I really enjoyed this phrase of my training journey, although as I gained greater knowledge I began to format my program to ensure balance and optimal rest. After training for several years with a variety of training programs to ensure change and deter stagnation, I began to find the structure and strictness of most training regimes un-motivating. I found myself attracted to the instinctive training I had started my weight training journey with.
I knew training in the exact same manner would not be optimally productive, as I would need to ensure muscle balance and rest in-between training muscle groups. The approach of not having a set muscle group to train on any particular day I found a lot more motivating and flexible. Some days I may be tired from a long and stressful day at work, so I would train a small muscle group such as the shoulders. Some days I may be highly motivated and choose to train my back or legs, with the high intensity and focus the large muscle groups need. In fact, I found there to be a handful of notable advantages to instinctive training.
• Improved motivation. This may be a personal point, which differs from one person to the other, but it was defiantly true for myself. I found having a set program for many weeks in a row was a recipe for me getting stuck in a rut, and hitting a wall in my training progression. Instinctive training is an ever changing training journey, which I personally find much more motivating on a daily basis.
• Listen to the body. It is a simple fact we all have a variety of moods and energy levels on a daily basis. Instinctive training allows for complete flexibility of when to train, when to not, and which muscle groups to train depending on mood and energy levels. Furthermore, instinctive training can allow for a muscle group to be rested if the muscle feels fatigued and would benefit from rest.
• Improve lagging muscle groups. If your calf muscles are notably lagging, instinctive training allows more focus and intensity to placed on the lagging muscle. Following a strict training regime does not usually cater for bringing up lagging muscle groups, as they tend to be much more balanced and universal.
• Variety. Training muscle groups with a variety of intensity and frequency is a good way to ensure progression does not stagnate, with the muscle stimulus regularly changing.
I appreciate the above training method may not be of benefit for everyone, but I believe it is a great approach to take for many trainers. The important point is to still retain a level of balance whilst instinctive training, otherwise you may experience muscle imbalances if greater focus is placed on certain muscle groups.