There’s a lot of information on the internet, a lot of workout suggestions on instagram, and a lot of shoulders exercises for impingement. But how do we determine what kind of fitness is best for someone? The answer is identifying that person’s “why”, or for more clarity, his or her intention with exercise. Here are some questions I’ll ask a client:
What is your goal out of your current exercise regimen?
How did you get into your current exercise regimen?
Why are you reaching out for support?
What do you like about working out?
What is your fitness history like?
What are you hoping to get from exercise?
I know those questions might sound cliche, and perhaps even a bit boring, but let me elaborate a bit and maybe it’ll provide clarity for you on why they matter so much.
1) If someone is looking to simply get moving for the first time in a very long time, or first time ever really, then the goal of fitness and even PT exercise selection is going to be focused around habit building. Building new habits is a skill that typically starts by planning out achievable tiny tasks. For someone new to intentional movement, that might mean doing 5 push ups against the door every time she comes home from work, or walking one flight of stairs a day.
An Instagram influencer’s upper body exercise program probably doesn’t apply to this person, but it might at a later point. If this person tried that upper body program as their first attempt in fitness, it might end with a negative experience and a quicker end in their commitment to fitness.
2) If someone is a higher functioning athlete looking to perform better for their ironman competition, then the type of programming I’d do with him or her would be periodized strength training and strategy conversations surrounding the benefits of strength training for endurance sports. I’d also consider incorporating HIIT and power-based conditioning to improve overall cardiovascular capacity, build tissue resilience, and minimize any loss in force production that may come from endurance training.
The same influencer’s core program probably wouldn’t benefit this person well, even though it could benefit others. If anything, the energy to perform this program would be better spent in other ways, or in active recovery sessions.
3) If someone is a bit more middle of the road in that they’re a typical working person who works out to expend energy and destress, but struggles to be consistent sometimes, then my efforts would be spent around identifying the activities that give them most pleasure and satisfaction.
That influencer’s strength program posted on instagram probably wouldn’t satisfy this person and would likely just reinforce their inconsistency and lack of enthusiasm.
4) Lastly, if someone is looking to burn fat and feel lean, then the strategy would be more surrounded around challenging current workout narratives and approaches, get them on a structured strength program, and discuss his or her current nutrition behavior.
The Instagram cardio program would likely be counterproductive to this person’s goals, and would not benefit them without having a strength program tailored to him or her.
In these four examples, you can see that while there are resources available for nearly anything we are looking for, how we apply them is entirely dependent on the person, her/his goals, and her/his needs to achieve success.
In moments of struggle or confusion, we often forget what we are capable of, or we resign to always doing it ourselves. In those moments, I want to remind you to still have faith in using support or coaches for pursuing and achieving certain goals. In addition to leaning on others, perhaps it’s best to also start learning your own “why” behind fitness by taking inventory of your current practices and your intentions behind them.