P-90X, Muscle confusion, CrossFit and Bootcamps are buzz words and training programs that are making a lot of waves right now. People are beginning to seek alternatives to the common health club routine largely because they have failed. Begin with the end in mind.
Stephen Covey had it right, when the author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” teaches us that we are to begin with the goal and the intent of our efforts. Training is no different. Without knowing where you are and where you want to go, it is impossible to ever arrive and be successful!
First things first, know your limitations. Before tackling countless reps of squats, lunges, push-ups and pounding out massive loads on your favorite machine you may want to know the answer. Are you trying to build fitness on top of disfunction? Our bodies are adaptive by nature and our habits weather they are good or bad will dictate what we become. Consider for example that working all day in a seated position results in short hip flexors, short pecs, and short biceps. This is due to the posture adopted while seated. Now take into consideration the affects on your glutes and your back being in a lengthened state for extensive periods of time. (This is also why Americans suffer from so much neck and back pain.)
The comprises created from a seated posture create weakness in the posterior chain which is the foundation for our bodies (the spine and the hips). Every movement we do is affected or governed by the spine and the hips. If your weak here your weak everywhere. The primary objective of your training program should be to address weakness and imbalance such as those created by hours of being in a seated position in front of a computer.
Unfortunately many training programs fail to address these issues up front and end up magnifying the problem.
Reeducate your body to move from disfunction to proper function. This is a really big deal and far too common of a mistake. I have been training well over 20 years and cant even begin to remember the number of people I have seen, athlete or not, that have violated this principal and in some cases paid the price of serious injury.
This is why my clients begin with an evaluation of several fundamental movement patterns, ranking functional limitations. Uneven strength around joints is inherent with anyone beginning a training program (and athletes too). These conditioning issues not addressed can promote long term complications such as chronic low back pain or knee and shoulder damage.
Begin with good training principals that promote joint integrity by developing core and hip strength and by learning the proper techniques for foundational exercises. You will get results more effectively and they will be long lasting.
You wouldn’t put new tires on a car without getting a proper alignment. Why would you begin working out without getting the body in alignment through proper training?
Unfortunately too many individuals have bought into the before & after photos as the standard for training. While aesthetics are important they should not be the sole measure of achievement. Don’t try to build fitness on top of disfunction. You may loose those extra inches around your waist due to the increased caloric demand and energy output of your new training routine. Will it be worth it in the long run? Training and fitness is to be a lifelong pursuit.