In the gym, start off with programmes that your body needs
Most people go to the gym and immediately start doing the exercises they like — men go for bench press and curls, and women for a long slow walk or run on the treadmill. This may be why most people seem to be in bad shape.
Athletes are no different from the average gym-goer. They want to do what they like, but holistic and strength and conditioning coaches are like parents who need to say “No TV until homework is done”.
When we first began developing training programmes for athletes, those who were not on a programme would wander into the weight room, do a couple of sets of bench presses, and then to the curl bar for a few sets. After this, they would simply leave. The solution to this problem was simple. The first day of every week was always a lower body day. This meant that athletes would return the next day to do the stuff they really wanted to do.
The solution for a fitness person is even simpler. Perform a full body workout every time you go to the gym. Do your lower body and pulling exercises (such as chin-ups) first. Save the bench press and curls for last. If you just did a squat or squat variation, a pull-up variation and then benches and curls, the result would be a vast improvement in your physique. The average person’s work ethic in the gym is the equivalent to going to a restaurant, ordering dessert, getting too full from dessert and skipping the meal. Lots of empty calories and none of the stuff you need.
The truth is that training is much like nutrition. Ever notice that everything that is good for you doesn’t taste very good? In addition, all the stuff that tastes great is fattening.
It’s the same with exercises. Have you ever noticed the popularity of exercises where you sit or lie down? Most of the exercises that are best for you are the ones that are least popular and seem to hurt the most.
(The writer is a CSCS (NSCA), C.H.E.K. and expert trainer)