Helping Or Hurting?
How to get the benefits & limit the costs of your workout
Do you ever feel like your exercise program is leading to more pains than gains? When selecting and adhering to a fitness regimen, it is important to assess the cost vs. benefits of your exercises because after all, your program should be helping you, not hurting you. Here are 5 things you can do to make sure you’re setting yourself up for training success.
1) Keep it Real
Be honest with yourself with regards to where you stand with your current fitness level before jumping into something that may be beyond your present capabilities.
2) Pick Your Spots
Moderate your exercise intensity, frequency, duration, and type to accommodate your current daily demands. When one window closes, it leaves another open so when physical demands are lower, push a little harder and when your demands are higher, ease off a bit. Knowing when to push and when to not is extremely valuable in avoiding the negative effects of over or undertraining.
3) Rest and Recover
What you do outside of your training is just as important as the training itself. Getting enough quality sleep and optimizing your nutrition will amplify your development and help you stave off the nagging aches, pains, and exercise-related injuries.
4) Don’t Force it
If you know you don’t respond well to a specific exercise, modify the exercise to better suit you or choose something different. Pattern assistance, load adjustments/alternatives, technique modifications are all valid and useful tools to help you get the most out of your movements whilst limiting the cost. There are many exercises that accomplish the same things, so pick the options that feel the best.
5) Invest in Guidance
Hire an experienced fitness professional to assess your movement patterning, prescribe specific programming, and monitor your progress. Having someone to help you customize your training regimen will ensure that you’re doing the right things for your specific goals and circumstances.
- Increase your capacity to exercise
When starting out or returning to exercise after a hiatus, it is important to ease into it. It is likely that your conditioning will be less than optimal, and your movement patterning will need some work. Start with some movement hygiene and light conditioning to raise your capacity and the ceiling of potential progress along with it. There is nothing more deflating than starting a program and getting discouraged by your lack of conditioning or injury before you develop any momentum.
- Good vs. Bad soreness
Muscle soreness is alright if it subsides within a reasonable amount of time and is not affecting your daily activities. As an example, if you’re experiencing long-term soreness/tightness (4+ days) from your workout and going out to play golf, you’re likely not going to play well or enjoy yourself. At that point, your exercises are doing you a disservice and even increasing your risk of injury. It is important for your exercise regimen to assist you, not restrict you.
- Nagging Injuries
If you’ve got a pain or a nagging injury that’s affecting your ability to exercise, see your healthcare provider to help manage the situation before it progresses into a major problem. Sports medicine doctors, massage therapists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, athletic therapists, kinesiologists can all help you to manage your injuries and return to pain free activity.
- Loading Strategies
When it comes to resistance training, there many ways to challenge yourself. The truth is that most people need less load, and more development of proper technique before they even think about putting weights in their hands or a loaded bar on their backs. In the initial stages of training, body weight offers a safe, effective, and not to mention, free way to work on proper movement patterning while still providing adequate stimulus for muscle growth and progression. Another alternative option is band or cable resistance. Bands offer portable and progressive resistance that is not constrained by gravity, making them a more versatile, and in many ways, more effective training implement.
The scenario is far too common; people find themselves on the physio, chiro, or massage table with an injury that was either caused by an exercise in their regimen or exacerbated by their training routine. When selecting an exercise regimen, it is important to do a cost/benefit analyses on your programming. Earn your weights by increasing your capacity to safely build your body and allow for program flexibility to accommodate the daily fluctuations that affect your readiness for exercise. When it comes to training, fitness, or sport, the ultimate ability is availability, so keep yourself in the game and consider these things to set yourself up for the gains, without the pains.