In an attempt to contribute what I can during this pandemic, I’ve been putting more effort into posting at-home workouts. It’s important to me that people know there is still plenty you can do at home to stay active and maintain/enhance your overall fitness.
There is, however, a downside to this. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with general recommendations, there is a large individual component to prescribing an exercise plan for someone.
Dean Somerset puts it simply: programing exercise is like making dinner. There are hundreds of different ingredients and ways to combine these ingredients to make hundreds of different meals. With this being said, there is no one perfect approach; I could go in two completely different directions and still make two meals that are healthy, satiating, and delicious for multiple people. However, if I throw in an ingredient that one person is allergic to or misjudge the portion size, I could being doing someone a disservice.
Likewise, the same is true with exercise. A workout I post could be great for some, but not so great for others. In other words, “what’s medicinal for some could be poison for others.” This is largely based on people’s tolerances to different loads and movements based on their injury history, lifestyle, anatomical structure, and other individual factors.
For example, let’s consider an accountant who sits in flexion (or “slumped over”) at a desk all day versus someone who paints ceilings (leaning back) all day. Their opposite lifestyles would most likely lead to different exercises (or further, a specific approach to an exercise) feeling better or worse than others.
I could go on and on, but you get the point. The truth is, when it comes to finding what is best suited for someone, there isn’t one simple answer. We can make inferences, but it is largely based on finding a balance between providing a specific training effect without going too far beyond your capacity (in nerd terms: between the minimum effective dose and maximum recoverable volume). This is done through careful consideration of all of these variables, a development of body/self awareness, and trail and error.
Long story short: exercise is much less arbitrary than we may think it is. Choose it wisely!
Stephanie Spoto, CSCS