The amount of people we have seen exercising while social distancing has been amazing. This is great because we always preach that movement is medicine! But, what happens when your movement is not enough to create the changes you need to make your body more resilient, or prevent you from injuring yourself? As Jake described in his recent blog Stop Playing in a Tiny Sandbox, we should start doing difficult things- lots of difficult things. It is important to exercise regularly, vary the types of exercises that you do, and increase the intensity at which you work out.
This all sounds great, but what if you are new to exercise or have been doing the same workout routine for years? I know many people who simply run 3-5 miles a few times a week thinking that is all they need to get a good workout. Running is great cardiovascular training that makes our hearts efficient and allows our muscles to endure sustained workloads, but it does not challenge our bodies enough to make us more resilient over time.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself when you choose your next workout:
How much thought have you put into the exercises you are going to use for your next workout?
Did you choose them yourself, or did you find them on the Internet or in a magazine?
What's your workout designed for? Do those goals match yours?
Are the exercises even safe for you?
Using the wrong program can lead to wasted time in the gym, frustration, plateaus in progress, and even injury. Let’s take a closer look at what goes into program design and the cost of getting it wrong.
1. Exercise Selection
There are many things to think about when choosing specific exercises. Machine vs. free weights, isolation vs. compound lifts, high reps/low weight vs. low reps/high weight, HIIT vs. CrossFit style workouts. Each one of these factors affects the results. Making the wrong choices could lead to wasting time working on the wrong things, limit your results, or lead to injury.
If you choose the right exercises, but don't know how to do them properly you will again limit your results, or worse, end up injured. Poor technique leads to inefficient movement and limits the power your muscles can create. It also changes the load on your muscles, joints, and ligaments which can lead to pain and injury.
Volume is a way of thinking about how much work you're doing during a workout. Doing a few reps with a heavy weight or a lot of reps with a light weight could end up being the same volume. Same goes for running a shorter distance quickly uphill vs a longer run at a slower pace on flat terrain. If your volume is too great you won't recover well between workouts and create the possibility of injury. Too little volume and you won't see results.
If you have been doing the same exercises with the same weight and the same number of reps and sets, you are not progressing. Same goes if you jump on the treadmill for the same amount of time with the same settings each time. To make progress, things must change and the program that works for your first 6 months will not work for you 2 years down the road.
This is an area that many of us often neglect. We like seeing our heart rate increase, our breath become challenged, and sweat dripping from our bodies during a hard workout, but we rarely consider how recovered our bodies were for that workout. Was the workout hard because we were physiologically prepared to tackle a difficult workout? Or was it hard because our body was so exhausted that we pushed our limits mentally and physically just to complete it?
Ask yourself this: did you get enough sleep at night or active rest during the day to achieve peak performance? The more recovered your body is, the better you can make optimal performance gains without injuring yourself from over-training. To learn about the importance of sleep, check out The Everyday Athletes Handbook: Part 1.
It is important to note that most athletes understand that getting enough rest after exercise is essential to high-level performance, but many still over-train and feel guilty when they take a day off. The body repairs and strengthens itself in the time between workouts, and continuous training can actually weaken the strongest athletes.
Why is rest so crucial? Rest is physically necessary so that the muscles can repair, rebuild, and strengthen. Adding recovery time into your training program gives the body time to adapt to the stress of exercise and that’s when the real training effect takes place.
As you can see, designing the perfect exercise program is complicated with a multitude of factors to consider. Most people have a history of injuries and lack the ideal amount of motion in every joint to complete a movement efficiently and in a pain-free manner. If you're not making progress, or just want to make sure your workouts are as effective as they can be, have one of our physical therapists take a look at your program. At Functionize, we offer plenty of resources to help our Everyday Athletes reach their goals while keeping them safe AND injury-free. Ask us today about our individualized strength programs using the Train Heroic app, live and virtual group classes, in-person and home-based Pilates workouts, and Return to Running training program.
Thanks for reading,
Lauren Sok PT, MPT
Source: American Physical Therapy Association
Fearless leader and mother of the team, Lauren took the leap to found Functionize in 2015 after nearly 20 years in conventional physical therapy practice with the ultimate goal of creating a new legacy for her family and her colleagues.
Finding energy in helping others and joy in watching them succeed, Lauren embraces childish enthusiasm and overt optimism in the face of entrepreneurship. Despite doubts and challenges, Lauren braved starting a cash-based physical therapy practice at a time when private-pay was a novel concept in the healthcare industry.
Raised in a small, blue-collar town in Pennsylvania, Lauren grew up with her parents constantly encouraging and enjoying an active lifestyle; as a result, she grew up watching them age with grace and agility, which became a prime motivation for her to help others do the same. Lauren came to learn that a proactive approach to health and wellness is the key for living your fullest life. The first in her family to go to college, Lauren laid the foundation for Functionize in hard work and determination.
To create the dream team, Lauren carefully curated a culture comprised of dynamic, invested and innately curious experts in relentless pursuit of providing best-in-class care and a customized approach for each individual patient.
Lauren’s intention is for her clients to feel they have a coach, partner and friend in Functionize. Her goal is to ensure every person who comes into the Functionize fold leaves with the education, support and empowerment to regain control over health and optimize wellness. Ultimately, she is dedicated to disrupting the current approach to healthcare for one that focuses on humans as a whole as opposed to the sum of symptoms.
Today, Lauren lives in Dunwoody with her husband, Kevin, teenage twin boys, Ethan and Austin, and spunky daughter, Sienna. When she is not running between sporting events, networking socials, supper clubs, carpooling, and school volunteering, Lauren enjoys traveling, running, a lazy day on the beach, OrangeTheory Fitness, and exploring the food and events in Atlanta, GA.