Are you breaking all the exercise “rules”?
The most common question from clients, members, friends, and acquaintances are usually directed toward how to do specific exercises. It’s time to throw out the rule book.
“Is this how I should do this exercise?”
“Is that the correct way to perform this/that exercise?”
“I heard that exercise is bad, so I won’t do it.”
As a trainer, I have the pleasure of being an educator at the same time. I am asked several questions daily. The most common questions from clients, members, friends, and acquaintances are usually directed toward how to do specific exercises. One of the biggest problems the exercise industry has created is trying to label certain exercises as “bad” and “good” and come up with ways that every person has to do an exercise. This is a huge mistake.
Every exercise is client specific. There are no exact rules until you have an understanding of the individual, his/her goals, limitations and injuries before you can consider how an exercise should be performed.
Let’s take squats, for example. As guidelines for squats, most people have heard that you should squat to where your thigh is parallel to the floor, or touch your butt to the back of your calves, or keep your back straight up and down. The tragic thing about this is that so many people are trying to perform squats with these rules in their heads, when all it is doing to them is hurting their body.
We all know that every body is made differently. One major way that it truly affects the rules of exercise is the bone size and shape of each person. The length of the thigh bone and the shin bone will dictate how deep or shallow a person will be able to squat. The bone thickness difference in the femoral head (thigh bone) will dictate how narrow or wide someone will have to squat. Here is an article that goes into good detail about how squats should be different from one person to another.
Squats are not the only exercises that are affected by our bones. All other exercises are under the same rules of our structure. The size of our shoulder blade affects how well or poorly someone will be able to push or pull over their head. If you have a very large shoulder blade it automatically limits your ability to do things above your head.
So, as Paul writes in Romans, “does this mean that we should just abandon all the rules and go crazy? May it never be!” The same is for you and me in the gym. The rules were put in place as guidelines. The best way to learn how to perform exercise for yourself is to find someone who has the knowledge base of how your body should work, can assess your limitations, and show you exercises that get you closer to your goals without causing harm to your body.