The Art of Movement: Week 20 - Start at the Beginning
Welcome to ‘The Art of Movement’ - my weekly newsletter!
This newsletter is not just an opportunity for me to touch base with my dear patrons and show my gratitude for your monthly support, but also to offer you a 5 minute, easily-digestible read around the world of health, fitness and exercise. Here I will troubleshoot many common difficulties my clients experience, offer practical, actionable solutions for you to put to work in your life immediately, and of course provide my weekly motivation in the form of a favourite quote, and a takeaway lesson from it.
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Week 20 - Start at the Beginning
Whenever we look at a training programme, a coach/trainer should always look at particular aspects including exercise selection, exercise order, volume, intensity etc. to assess whether the individual's needs are being met. Every single one of us requires this basic ‘needs analysis’ to ensure that what we are doing in the gym reflects our individual requirements, and this analysis may vary in its degrees of specificity from person to person. But the reality is everybody should be able to do this if they want to, qualified coach or not - we were just never taught it at school.
If this sounds like something too intense or complicated, do not fear. There is a very easy way to at least cover the basics of addressing your needs.
The main thing to remember here is that many people get back into exercise for the first time in a long while and immediately try to run before they can walk. The whole point of this article is basically - ‘don’t do that!’. Examples of this well-intended overreaching include:
Lifting weights that are too heavy too soon
Running/cycling long distances/durations before shorter ones
Training 4-6 times per week immediately
This is extremely common and almost always results in 'programme termination', when the person inevitably experiences either burnout/fatigue, injury, or a rapid drop in motivation.
The most important things for a person to consider when embarking on a new exercise journey are the following:
Lift very light weights first, increasing in a very gradual and systematic way
Focus almost exclusively on control, technique and creating muscular tension.
Run/cycle very short distances/durations first. Increase in a very gradual and systematic way.
Train at a MODEST frequency (eg. 2-3 x per week), only increasing once clear consistency has been established.
Then we come to the training programme itself. The area in which many people will be missing opportunities to progress in the most efficient way. The problems with many training programmes I see beginners attempting are:
Some of the exercises are far too advanced
Rep ranges are not appropriate (usually too many reps)
Weights prescribed are too heavy
The above 3 lead to poor technique throughout the workout
Exercise selection over-emphasises some muscle groups, neglecting others
An example of this could be a workout that includes lots of pushes and long bouts of cardio, but completely lacks mobility, pulling and core stability exercises, as well as more suitable cardio.
So when first embarking on a new routine. What could it look like in order to avoid all of these pitfalls? Well, first of all, we should try to ensure we consider and include:
Brief, intense cardio
So a single programme that we carry out 2-3 times per week could look like this:
And a split (A & B) programme that we alternate for 2-3 sessions per week could look like this:
This way, when undertaking the exercise regime, there is unlikely to be any gaping holes in the training. If one of mobility, pushes, pulls, lower body, core stability, steady state cardio or intense cardio is missing from your training, it is my belief at some point you will be found wanting. I would however caveat that moving with correct form and full range of motion can negate the need for mobility training.
PS. There are all kinds of sub-groups for each of those categories but that is way too deep for today.
So, start at the beginning! Take that checklist and apply it to your current regime - what is missing? Is there a way to include it? Approach each exercise without ego, and come out of each session feeling better than when you went in.
‘We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.’ - Maya Angelou
Movement of the Week: Dead Hang
2 x 15-30 secs
This exercise is an easy win for anybody who experiences tightness or pain in the upper back and shoulders. The dead hang is a great way to stretch the latissimus dorsi (big muscle at the side of the back), improve grip strength (which scarily has a strong correlation with life expectancy!), and generally improve the health and function of the shoulder. I recommend dead hangs as a nice warm up exercise before an upper body workout. Give it a try! How long can you hold for?
That’s all for this week! Please spread the word about my Patreon channel so more people can enjoy the videos and newsletters!