The Saturation of Fad Fitness Programs
How many of you have had one of those sleepless nights that lead you back out to the couch to watch TV? Generally speaking, I’ll have a few of those frustrating nights throughout the year. By the second time watching the same broadcast of SportsCenter rolls around, I’m ready to change the channel. Let’s be real here. There isn’t ANYTHING on TV at 2am. Being a fitness professional, I always stop at the infomercials to brush up on the latest “life-changing” fitness fad. I’m not really sure what would compel a company to play fitness infomercials at 2am, but hey, it is what it is. Maybe the sleepless Americans want to get into better shape? P90x, T-25, and many other fad driven workout DVD’s litter the late night airwaves with promises of better health to all.
For this week’s blog post, I’m going to address the good, the bad, and the ugly of these workout plans.
I’ll begin with the good, regarding these fad workouts.
The first point I want to make is that I would never completely discourage someone from trying to get in better shape. With diabetes, heart disease and many other preventable diseases running wild due to a sedentary population in the United States, increasing one’s level of activity is crucial to fight this epidemic. In this battle, ANY physical activity beats sitting around doing nothing.
Many people are intimidated when it comes to working out at a commercial gym. Some won’t even consider stepping foot into a room that’s filled with giants who sling around hundreds of pounds of weight. In-home products eliminate that factor.
Another good thing about many of these programs is that they provide a bit of nutritional guidance in addition to the workout program. It’s surprising when I initially consult with a new client regarding nutrition and they may think they’re eating relatively healthy and they’re actually not. These programs suggest healthier eating options with their meal planning and that’s great!
Now I’ll move into the bad and the ugly……
Most of these infomercial products are very cookie cutter in nature. Everyone is different when it comes to body type and baseline physical abilities. Everyone’s workout should be tailored to specific, personal goals based off of their abilities. The optimal way most people should train is with basic barbell and free weight exercise with progressive increases in resistance over time. Supplemental or assistance exercises need to be programmed according to individual muscle imbalances. This is the exact reason that the two staples in fitness over the last 100 years has been the barbell and the dumbbell! It’s because they work! That’s the big point here. Bodyweight exercises are great to an extent, but to progress beyond the 90 days, or whatever timeline they give, you need to add progressive resistance to improve. This is why ALL of my training programs for ALL of my clients, older or younger, involve variations of pressing, squatting and deadlifting.
While many of these videos show modifications of exercises, there is still not an expert in a person’s home to teach proper form, which can often lead to injury. I’ve had many conversations with doctors and physical therapists who have dealt with overuse injuries brought on by these programs. People often seem to gauge how effective their workouts are based off of how sore they are one to two days after a workout. They feel that if they aren’t sore, their workout is ineffective. This could be one’s body warning them to back off a bit. With only one day of rest per week with a lot of these plans, the body doesn’t have adequate time to heal before the next round of workouts. This can be detrimental to progress and obviously injuries can delay or halt fitness goals.
Many of the DVD packages promote by using a term called “muscle confusion”, claiming that if there is a constant variation of exercises performed, the body won’t adapt and the progress will keep coming. I need to tell you that this couldn’t be more false. I’ll use the push-up and the squat for example. These are two very important functional movements that not everyone can perform when beginning a fitness program. If correcting the imbalances that inhibit these exercises isn’t prioritized early on, there will be halts in exercise progression, fitness results, and a person WILL get injured. There’s no way around this. If a program isn’t striving to correct individual differences, no exercise will ever be performed correctly.
In conclusion, I always customize every client’s training program. Everyone is different. There is no general fitness program that applies to everyone. As an individual, you owe it to yourself and your well-being to consult a professional regarding progressive exercise. It is safer and more effective. While I’ll never discourage anyone from trying to become more fit, there are better ways to do it. Come in for a free fitness assessment and workout at Life’s Direction and see the difference! We offer 1 on 1 training, group training, and also coaching and programming for those who don’t need as much attention throughout every single workout!
Yours in Health