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Is your exercise good or bad for you?

28th October 2018, 02:47 Hrs

Filipe Alvares   


Each of us, when we do decide to exercise, look for the ‘best’ exercises that will help transform our bodies, improve posture, and enhance physical appearance. These days it is not hard to find fitness tips in magazines, on the internet and even on the weekly television broadcast.The question we must, however, ask ourselves before we blindly pick a set of exercises to do is “Are these exercises right for me?”Many assume that if a professional is performing an exercise, it must be the secret they need towards improving themselves. I have clients sending me videos, on a daily basis, asking my opinion on whether they too should follow these extremely enticing, beautifully choreographed exercise videos. And very often my answer to them is, “Do you have the same fitness level as displayed by the characters in the video?! Or the same body type? Or the same workout goal?”

Each and every exercise has its place. The two most important factors you must understand when making an exercise choice is the “reason” for the exercise and your “suitability” in performing the exercise. I’ve listed below some of the factors I consider when writing workout programmes for my clients, and they are some that you too should consider when trying to improve your overall fitness, and choosing your exercises: 

Anytime I start with a new client, there are 3 things I need to know about them: 

1.    What is their present injury/medical history?  

2.    How long have they been training consistently?  

3.    What are their exercise goals?  

I cannot stress enough the need for you to keep in mind your medical history, injuries and surgeries you may have had in the past, alongside any pain you may be experiencing now when making the decision to exercise. Certain medical conditions may dictate the frequency, intensity and/or duration for a safe training programme. Previous injuries may result in avoiding or modifying certain movements, like spinal loading or overhead pressing, for example. Similarly, pain is a message from the body telling you that it doesn’t feel “safe” in its current environment.  It is in your best interest to modify painful movements until the body is ready for them again.Like a well built house, a good workout programme is built on a solid foundation.

What you also need to understand is that the videos that capture your attention are shot by professionals, and they have been training consistently for many years. This allows them to safely do advanced variations of a surplus of exercises. If you’re new to fitness, or haven’t been training consistently, it would be best for you to focus on basics like proper form, breathing, creating tension, and proper separation of the body’s extremities. This will allow you to safely progress to more advanced exercises and result in even more benefit from them when properly prescribed.

Exercises should be a part of your programme to improve a specific aspect of your ability to move and perform. Ask yourself, “What are my goals?”  Do you want to be anathlete or a sportsperson? Is flexibility at the top of your list? Maybe you want to lose weight and improve your body composition? When you have been able to honestly and correctly answer those questions, you will be guided towards choosing the right set of exercises that will help you move closer to your goals every day. Professionals often have specific goals and choose exercises intelligently in order to reach them. If you’re not sure where to start, I would recommend choosing exercises that help you move well without pain, increase flexibility, strength and power and improve aerobic capacity.

After gathering the above-mentioned background information, the next thing Ido with a client is a Movement Assessment.  There are tons of different assessments out there that help uncover a load of information. I am a big fan of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), and I also like watching clients perform common movements that I would like them to train properly for.There are several specific movements that I make sure to incorporate in almost every programme I prescribe; these improve overall fitness, and include squatting, hinging, pushing and pulling, along with the ability to disassociate the upper and lower body, and rotation of the hips and torso.

Once I’ve done a movement assessment, I can determine where to place each and every one of my clients on my personal exercise continuum. For each movement you train, you should have a series of progressions and regressions to fit each client. In each programme, for example, I would like everybody to perform some type of hip-dominant exercise. For some clients that may be a toe touch progression, and for others, it may be a single arm kettlebell swing. Make sure your exercise choices match your ability to move safely and effectively.Exercise selection should reinforce the good movement or the changes you are are trying to make. This is where it becomes extremely important to consult with a professional instructor. The best athletes and exercise professionals in the world take their fitness seriously and it is always fun to see what exercises they perform.But remember, you need to ask yourself whether those exercises are the right fit for your workout programme. By answering the questions above, we can make that decision and build a workout programme that allows us to exercise at our absolute best while preventing injury and achieving our goals. 

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