Not All Exercises Are Created Equally



As a writer, I often catch myself subconsciously correcting the grammar and spelling of others; even in conversation.

Yes, I’m the one shouting, “You’re doing well!!” It’s just instinct.

Perhaps financial experts do the same when they see people spending money or professional athletes when they walk through the park and see people playing ball.

As a fitness professional, I catch myself walking through the exercise floor wondering, “Why are they doing that?”

Now, before you get all worried that I’m secretly judging you (or other trainers are for that matter) let’s just say you’ve been given a free pass. Until now, you’ve only heard what they say.

Your workouts should always be based on your individual goals. While there’s no one-size-fits-all exercise that will achieve all you’re trying to accomplish, there are certain characteristics to incorporate that will be most beneficial.

The most common thing I see are people doing the same workout religiously; you could create a map of their exercise routine and no deviation would occur. Can it be that bad? After all, the routine probably came from a solid source like a fitness magazine, exercise expert or, even the gym you attend.

Rule #1 of exercise: no matter what you do, if you do it long enough without change, it will stop working. Actually, rather than just not work, it may do the exact opposite of nothing, and instead push you farther from your goals of strength, weight loss, etc.

No, your muscles do not get confused.  However, the adaptation principle says you must introduce your body to new stimuli on a regular basis so it continues to improve. While obtaining workout ideas from magazines, TV shows, exercise videos, or even your gym are a great way to keep things fresh, they in no way are intended to be the only workout you do week in and week out. The elements of your workout should consistently change, such as exercises performed, weight used and overall intensity of the workout.

Perhaps the second most common thing I see is the use of isolation exercises in an effort to tone and firm a particular area.

Rule #2 of exercise: no matter what you do, there is no such thing as spot reduction. I’ve heard some great examples of this, but one sticks out in my mind most prominently: we all know that overeating leads to weight gain. To overeat, one must ingest the food somehow, and the majority of the time is chewed then swallowed. If spot reduction were possible, the muscles surrounding the mouth on someone who overeats would be very lean and muscular compared to the rest of the body.

However, that’s just not the case. Likewise, doing bicep curls and triceps extensions and crunches will build muscle in those areas, but muscle will only be visible in the absence of fat. Isolation exercises aren’t going to cut it when you’re trying to cut down.

So what will?

Weight is lost when a person burns more calories than they consume. This is best done with nutritional intervention in addition to exercise, but you must be doing the right exercises. We’ve discussed there’s no such thing as the “perfect” exercise, but there are certain types of exercises to gravitate towards. Because calories are burned cumulatively throughout the body, not just in the area being exercised, you want to stick to exercises that give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Rule #3 of exercise: the most effective exercise is one that maximizes caloric expenditure in a safe manner. High-intensity exercise and movements that incorporate multiple muscle groups burn the greatest amount of calories in the shortest amount of time, making them the most efficient and effective exercises. (Think intervals and/or exercises that involve the movement of multiple joints.)

But those aren't the ones that maximize calorie burn. What does? Those that burn calories even when you're sitting around! And those are the ones that focus on increasing muscle tone.

While fast moving, interval-based workouts certainly burn lots of calories (and even continue for hours afterwards, if done correctly) you want something that will keep your metabolism thriving for weeks, months and years later. And - according to science - that can only be done with Intense Cardio Exercise (ICE) and Focused Intense Resistance Exercise (FIRE.)

Lastly, since I’m on the subject of exercise, I’ll touch on something else I commonly see: the use of fancy equipment to perform flashy exercises in an effort improves a certain area of the body. While things like BOSU balls and stability balls aren’t necessarily a bad thing, using them improperly yields no benefit.

Rule #4 of exercise: functionality & proper progression are key to any successful exercise program. I see many people using the BOSU for balance improvement, but the BOSU can only improve balance if balance is perfect on a solid surface. If you’re wobbling on the BOSU, all you’re training your body to do is wobble on an unsteady surface. Likewise, doing a squat on a stability ball looks cool, but, aside from being dangerous, it yields no benefit in the real world. Aside from being on the TV show Wipeout, when will you ever have to balance on a ball and do a squat?

It would be a much more efficient use of your time to master things like a single leg balance or a single leg squat. These will not only come in handy in the real world, but will offer exponential benefits in a safe manner.

The use of proper progression will protect you from injury and yield much better results. While being able to go up in weight or reps is a great feeling, it’s much more important to perform an exercise correctly with perfect form than to increase weight or reps. If you’re not sure how proper form looks, do some research on credible online sources, such as PT on the Net, or enlist the help of a fitness professional (ahem) to show you how to properly progress an exercise. Results don’t come with higher weights or reps, but with proper form that is supplemented with increases in weights and repetitions.

Looking for a fantastic, budget-friendly way to incorporate these principles into your routine? Join me for ICE in Campbell Park and see how it can revolutionize your results!

Prices are going up in March, so take advantage of the last week at the "founding member" rate of $14.95/week. Email me now to learn more, or sign up now and get a free week to test it out!

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