It’s been a while, but I’m back this week for a Tough Love Tuesday with one of my biggest pet peeves that I see in programming and workouts. Training with no sense of direction or program or plan, adding in variations and “Instagram exercises” without reason… And then wondering why you’re not making progress!
In the age of Instagram trainers and social media, flashy sells. Whether it’s stringing together rows of butterfly pullups or balancing acts disguised as strength training exercises, the basics are often left by the wayside in favor of more attention-grabbing options.
It’s not only that many these variations are often not only unsafe, but ineffective as well. Without channeling thought into choosing exercises and progressions that best fit with your goals, previous injuries, and movement and training history, we leave potential progress on the table.
You may recognize this scenario. Heck, you might be in it! You’ve been working out consistently, adding in new exercises, testing out a new class. And yet, progress remains to be seen! Of course, we can’t discount the mental progress of enjoying the workout, but what about the increased strength and endurance? The ability to lift more weight or run longer? You may be in this trap of moving for movement’s sake.
Moving for movement’s sake is a great first step. We all must first learn to enjoy working out, in whatever form it takes. However, beyond that, we should work to choose exercises that align with our goals. Adding weights and progressing forward, with an end goal in mind. Going into the gym with a program in place instead of making it up on the fly. Choosing the variation that’s best for us, instead of the one that looks the coolest on Instagram.
While, I don’t believe there is a single, perfect variation of every movement pattern or exercise. However, I do think that there is a perfect variation for you on that day to meet you where you’re at and help you toward your goals.
What is the purpose of each and every exercise in your program?
What is your current fitness goal? What are you working towards?
Why are you choosing each exercise over another?
Why is this specific variation best to help you reach your current goal?
By asking these questions, we avoid moving for movement’s sake and start incorporating movements that will set us up for success in reaching our goals. Don’t worry if you can’t perform the most advanced progression of an exercise and don’t fear lowering the weight if you’re just feeling a little off on a specific day.
Adding in thought-out progressions and consistently following a program, without overzealous variation, allows us to reduce the risk of injury and continue to make consistent progress toward our goals, while avoiding moving simply for movement’s sake.