Benefits of (or lack thereof) an Exercise “Routine”

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Albert Einstein(attributed)
US (German-born) physicist (1879 – 1955)

Over the past few weeks, I have had people contact me and ask, “Can you plan out a routine for me to follow.”  (Talk about creatures of habit…)

And, my thought process is as follows: Well, yes. Yes, I CAN write out a plan for you to follow but are you going to get much out of it? Probably not. If you happen to remember the correct form to each exercise; how to hold your shoulders, where to place your feet in relation to your hips and as long as you can check that your cervical spine is held in a neutral position, that’s a start! You could definitely gain something with my writing a routine for you to follow.

Now, in addition to that, if you can carry out all 2-3 sets of the 8-15 exercises I write down for you and finish all 12-15 repetitions that I also write down for you, that’s impressive because by the last 2-3 repetitions your muscles should be so fatigued that you may actually need help getting through those last repetitions. But hey, if you can do all of that, you can definitely gain a lot from a written-out routine.

The tricky part is remembering the names of the exercises (and figuring out the abbreviations): “Squat w/ bi curl/sh. press.” OK, that’s pretty self explanatory – most people will remember that one. What about “Squat w/ Core Ball Low -> High Woodchopper” or “Bosu Sngl-Leg Squat w/ Sngl-Arm Sh. Press?”

Crap. Where do I place my feet? How do I bend my knees? Is it same arm/leg or opposite? Do I start up or down? Ow! This hurts my knee! When do I BREATHE?!

Even if you DO master all 15 exercises I have written down and you finish all 3 sets of 15 repetitions and you follow that for 4 weeks, then what? How do you progress? How do you challenge your body? How do you modify a certain exercise if it is indeed, bothering your knee?

I cannot stress enough the importance of VARIETY and correct posture within an exercise “routine.” The body is SMART! It adapts! If you hop on the elliptical for 30 minutes 5 days a week, guess what? Your body gets used to doing the same thing for the same amount of time 5 days a week. You will, without fail, hit a plateau not to mention, eventually bore yourself out of your mind! Change up your routine! Do a different workout every time you’re in the gym. Mix up full body exercises with core/abdominal exercises and cardio intervals. Balance your workouts between cardio, strength and mind/body/flexibility. If you go through exercises with your feet out of place or you forget to pull your navel toward your spine, you are setting yourself up for injury and eventually will create postural imbalances that will be very hard to correct. Be sure you are in proper position/posture before moving a load!

The routines I bring clients through are complex and calculated. I joke with clients that there is a “method to my madness” while putting them through certain exercises. I am constantly reminding the client when and how to breathe, how to hold their posture, what angle their knee should be placed or how to position the hands. I like to teach and create body awareness for all of my clients. If you aren’t sure where you are supposed to be feeling an exercise, that could pose a huge problem! If you have been doing lat pulldowns for the past year and have never felt your back muscles engage, only your biceps working? Red flag! If you are going through a set of push-ups and never feel your core engage? Problem. If you are working with a trainer and he/she never explains proper movement patterns, range of motion, tempo and what muscles to focus on, I highly recommend reassessing your trainer/client relationship.

If you are thinking about starting an exercise program, or if you are currently following an exercise program and feel like you’re going nowhere, do me, and yourself, a favor – change it up! Add variety! Ask a professional how to spice up your workout or just come to the realization that you may need to invest in yourself, hire a trainer and really feel the difference!

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