|My Favorite Piece by Doug Balzarini|
What’s your favorite piece of fitness equipment? Over the years I’ve been asked that question many times and over the years my answer has changed many times. Give me a bar and a couple plates and we’ve got the best, foundational movements available with deadlifts, squats, presses, and pulls. Give me a medicine ball and a wall and we are set for an explosive and challenging hour. Give me a TRX and I’m good to go for a demanding full-body workout that incorporates strength, endurance, balance, stability, and flexibility. These are all great tools; tools that I definitely use every week with all of my athletes and clients.
Today I’d like to update my answer – My favorite “piece” of equipment is my own body.
I’m definitely one who loves to utilize the latest and greatest equipment out there today. I love attending tradeshows to see what the new hot pieces are. I think it’s important to continue to challenge and improve our bodies in new ways. I think it is more important to make sure we are healthy and efficient moving in an unloaded environment first. We all have enough weight on our bodies to stimulate our muscles and our mind to work harder and get stronger.
One important, yet simple, question to consider when training a client or creating a program for someone is, “Why are they doing this exercise”? You should be able to support every exercise you have someone do and explain why that particular exercise is helping that individual get better and achieve his/her goal.
Let’s recap a typical day for the majority of the population…the “desk jockey”.
At this point their hip flexors, pecs, and anterior shoulder muscles are tight, and their gluteals are inactive. Their scapulae are stuck in protraction…we have your common upper-cross and lower-cross syndromes occurring. Why in the world would we have them come in to our facility and sit them down?! Why would we put them on a seated bench press machine for 4 sets and super-set it with some “6-pack toning” abdominal crunches? Unless we are incahoots with the local Physical Therapist, it’s just an unhealthy idea. We are providing our clients a disservice and, in the long run, doing them more harm than good. I’m definitely not saying that we shouldn’t bench and crunch (Well, I might be saying no crunches but that’s a discussion for another time), but I am saying that if you do have a client bench press; remember the question – why are they doing this exercise?
This typical client is a big reason as to why my favorite piece of equipment is my own body. So many clients today are walking into gyms and fitness centers with muscle imbalances and injuries. We need to “re-train” and “re-groove” a lot of their movement patterns with bodyweight exercises and corrective movements to reeducate them before we start to load them.
Everyone is unique; their goals, strengths, weaknesses, imbalances, etc. are all different. This is the reason why cookie-cutter programs are not very effective. Many of my new clients wonder when they are going to sit on the leg extension machine so they can rep out some isolated knee extensions or sit on the pec-deck machine and pump their chest. These STDs (Selectorized Training Devices) are not going to be included in the program I develop for 99% of my clients. Bodyweight movements, however, will be included in 100% of my client’s programs. Your typical client trains with you 3 hours a week, which means there are 165 hours they are not with you. Based on this limited time together we need to make sure we are helping them as best we can. We want them to be able to perform their activities of daily living effectively and pain free. Isolating the quadriceps in a seated position is not going to achieve these goals.
What about progressions
1. Changing Angles – Elevating your feet in a traditional pushup will increase the percentage of bodyweight that you are pushing away from the floor.
I should mention that for many individuals, especially those new to exercise, an extended dynamic-warm up (movement prep & muscle activation sections shown below) will be an adequate workout for the first few sessions. You can learn more about warm up routines and mobility work with these great resources:
Here’s a sample training session – 6 sections
Stationary: 4-part squat to stands, jumping jacks, seal jacks, flings, gate swings, and balance reaches
B. Muscle activation (5 minutes)
C. Power/Plyo (2-3 minutes)
D. Resistance Training (15-20 minutes)
E. ESD-Energy System Development (15-20 minutes)
Mixed Sprint Work: Locate some local landmarks (Telephone poles, city blocks, street signs, mailboxes, etc.). Sprint to a landmark and notice your time. Double that time for your recovery period. Repeat 10-12 intervals with this 1:2 work to rest ratio.
F. Flexibility (10 minutes)
There are a great number of variations to just about every exercise included in this sample workout. When it comes to using only your body, you are only limited by your creativity. Now tell me; what’s your favorite piece of equipment?
Prior to working with Todd Durkin Enterprises (TDE) and Fitness Quest 10, Doug worked for the American Council on Exercise as the Continuing Education Coordinator where he was responsible for managing over 400 continuing education providers.
As Director of Operations for TDE, Doug is responsible for assisting current and potential clients determine what fitness and wellness programs would best suit their event’s needs.
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