Fantastic exercises and where to find them

As a physical trainer, I’m used to working with athletes as well as “ordinary” people. Usually, the two groups have different aims and needs.

But there is a question everyone has, no matter which group they’re in: which exercise is best for…?

Wow, I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve been asked this.  If I add up the time I’ve spent answering this question it would be something like gazillions of minutes, and the funny thing is that my answer is always: it depends!

Yes, I say that not because I want to keep it secret, but because the purpose behind the choice of each exercise makes all the difference.

I decided to write this article not only because I get this question so many times, but also because I see a lot of misunderstanding about workout routines in our social-media-driven era.

Too many times I see videos or pictures of old and new exercises used in the wrong way.

[tweetshare tweet=”Too many times I see videos or pictures of old and new exercises used in the wrong way.”]

So, let's start with the basics.

Any exercise you use is just a tool — nothing else.

But you need to know why you want to use it and how to use it correctly.

If you have a clear intention in mind, then you can choose the best exercise to achieve that outcome.  Part of the equation is the purpose of the exercise; the other part is you.

Let’s look at an example.

Everyone knows what a squat is.

So, let’s say you’ve spent the last few months on the couch watching TV and doing nothing else. Then you decide to start getting active and doing some training. 

Someone proposes that you start with some walking sessions and some half squats without using weights or a barbell.

In that situation, the squat is one of the best exercises for you to get some strength and start improving your fitness.

But what about half bodyweight squats if you’re using them as a strengthening tool after three months of gym training?  Do you think that exercise will give you some extra strength?

Definitely not. In that context, it could lead you to detrain yourself instead.

As you can see, each decision about which is the right exercise to use depends on your condition – I know, it seems quite obvious. 

Let's now talk about the aim behind your exercise choice.

Any movement you do, any gym machine you use, brings a bunch of stimuli to your body. And your body reacts to them, improving its condition. 

That’s what we call “training.”

But during your season, you need different improvements and different stimuli.

That’s why you should think about what kind of gains you are looking for, and the level you want to reach.  With this in mind, you need to choose the right training method, composed of different exercises.

This is what we call “programming a training.”

Basically, there needs to be a rationale behind all the workouts, behind the weekly program, the monthly program, and so on.

If you’re more experienced, you’ve undoubtedly heard the word: periodization.

This term makes you look at the bigger picture of your entire training year (or even longer).

[tweetshare tweet=”But during your season, you need different improvements and different stimuli.”]

But let's come back to the smallest part of your training: a single exercise.

There could be varying reasons for using the same exercise, and you can use it in many different situations, to achieve many different results.

I see a lot of beautiful exercises when I surf the net – exciting new ways to use equipment and so on, but often these training tools are not really understood, and sometimes they are even used to get a result they were never designed to get.

Here’s a quick example: there are a ton of balance exercises proposed in surfing and paddle boarding training.  Most of them are really good, but you need to remember that you don’t only need balance while paddling. 

You need a lot more. For example – strength. 

You definitely need strength.

For those of you who believe that 1 hour of paddling is all about endurance, well, you should know that your level of stamina is based on your level of strength.

If each of your strokes requires 80% of your maximal strength, the effort of 1-hour of paddling will be massive. If each of your strokes needs 50% of your maximal strength, the effort will be much less. 

But, by focusing on strength, do you think you can improve your maximal strength doing balance exercises?

I’ll answer that for you: no!

Training to improve your maximal strength is something that requires an exercise which helps you release all the force of your muscles.

It’s something you can’t do whilst trying to keep your balance on a fit ball or standing on just one foot.

[tweetshare tweet=”Your level of stamina is based on your level of strength.”]

I hope this post will make you think twice whenever you come across any new-and-best training exercise of the moment. 

Before jumping on it and adding it to your daily routine, ask yourself, what is the purpose behind the exercise and do you actually need it right now in your training?

As you will be aware, part of the job of a physical trainer involves the evaluation of your needs and your condition, taking into account the program for the whole season, and then the building of your monthly and weekly training routines. 

Only in this way, can you be sure of doing the best exercises you can, and in turn, achieving the results you’re looking for.

Nowadays finding a professional physical trainer who will put together a good training routine is not difficult. 

Do it on your own and you could find that you don’t get the results you’re after, and it may even create new problems.

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