Health & Safety

December 6, 2013

Fit for Life: Why workout routines might not be working

David Charles “Chazz” Owen

As both Soldier and civilian, I have been on Fort Huachuca for over 15 years, and seen professionals from many nations work out, race and engage in other forms of fitness here.

During that period, I have seen some people say they’ve done everything to improve their fitness and athletic performance, but were unable. They’ve blamed everything from being the fault of others to genetics.

While it can’t be said each and every one of those individuals could have achieved success with a different mindset or approach, I’ve seen many mistakes made on a recurring basis which derails the best of intentions. Some of the most common reasons a workout routine is not working include the following.

Disco moves at expense of basics

Some well intentioned people perform disco moves but neglect the basics, ignoring major muscle groups to focus on minor muscle groups and esoteric exercises. I once saw an Army Body Composition Noncompliant Soldier spend their entire physical therapy session on double arm triceps kickbacks.

To them, they were working out through strength training. But would a better and more efficient approach have been for them to maximize lean muscle through working all the pushing muscles of their upper body versus that level of specialization to refine muscle they didn’t possess?

If a person is bodybuilding, even recreationally, the triceps are important, but chances are they’re working something like that as a finishing movement to refine muscle as opposed to using it as the foundation for (not) achieving total body fitness.

Person needs ego lift

There are many aspects to this one. I’ve seen individuals disproportion their physique by only focusing on a few muscle groups versus total body fitness, usually for a muscle group which responds well for them.

Another aspect is using more weight than the exerciser can safely or effectively handle. These people rob themselves of the full value of an exercise to do only partial movements with what they consider heavy poundages in order to not be viewed as weak had they lightened the resistance and done full range movements. Partial lifts are valuable and have their place, but if a person never engages in full movements then they should ask themselves if they’re denying themselves the benefit of an exercise in order to impress others.

Inconsistency causes problems

The two-days-on, five-off routine, or two-weeks-on, five-off, will not yield maximum results. People need to self reflect and identify factors which keep them from being consistent.

Lack of motivation? Find a partner, trainer or other means to hold you accountable.

Lack of time? Can a simple schedule or lifestyle modification carve some out? The key is to workout consistently. Yes, holidays, leaves and schools as well as life events will affect consistency, but that should be the exception rather than the rule.

Lack of understanding hurts

Lack of understanding is somewhat related to focus. Pre-digital age I read everything possible regarding whatever sports I was involved in. Don’t be afraid to do research and ask questions such as why did this distance runner train at these intensities? How did a certain fighter incorporate this type of cross training?

You can then knowingly use what you glean. Many people simply pull down an application from a website or online periodical and mimic it without understanding why or fully comprehend what they are doing. How then can one gauge how effective it is? How then can it accurately assess if the knowledge is helping to achieve desired goals if you aren’t even sure of what muscle groups you are working? Under the guise of wanting to learn, I’ve asked people who don’t seem to know what they are doing what a certain exercise does.

Many have replied that they don’t know.

Then why do it? Learn, know, be — then do. Become self taught, and understand the method to the madness.

Again, the list of reasons people give as to why their exercise program is not working is by no means complete. I welcome your questions, comments or additions to this theme. Email your thoughts to TierFiveFitness@hotmail.com.




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