Friday, May 8, 2009

Training A. - and some thoughts on exercise philosophy

I have a favorite set of exercises for the beginner (Starting strength) and with coaching A. right now who has mobility restrictions out the wazoo in a shoulder I can use exactly one of them; the rest he'd risk permanent disability trying to do until we've addressed his shoulder issues. So no benching, no squatting, no military press, and no power cleans for him - if I was married to the method I'd have thrown up my arms and told him he was uncoachable.

Instead, I've laid out a set of substitute exercises, put him on some mobility drills, had him do some shoulder stability work, and prodded him to go see a physical therapist. Which he is doing today at long last - and in another month I hope to have his shoulder where he can attempt a pushup.

Keep in mind that all exercise methodologies and protocols (Pilates, yoga, weight lifting, Curves, boot camps, classical calisthenics) are only useful when you look at them as tools to reach a specific goal.

There are people who do need to use Pilates or the equivalent as introduction to body mastery; who have no business even looking crosswise at a weight until they're comfortable enough in their own skin to have a feel for how to move. Physical therapy and rehab patients can use a similar methodology and there are people who've seen a fair degree of success by using Pilates to transition from rehab and PT to a more normal function level.

The issue I have with all these methods is that people tend to pick out one method or training protocol and declare that this is all you need to achieve Real Ultimate Fitness!!!Zomg11!!11!!

This annoys me.

It's doing yourself a disservice when you can't separate your goals from the methods used to reach them - some methods work to reach some goals, some don't. When there's a mismatch between the goals you want and the methods you want to use to reach them, we have a problem.

Then it's time to re-evaluate the goals you have, or the methods used to reach them. No matter how much you like Pilates, it's not going to help you get in shape for that 10K run, and no matter how much you like Olympic lifting it's not going to be enough to get you faster in the swimming pool.

When you're doing this re-evaluation some people find that they like their method so much they're willing to give up pursuing their stated goal in other to stay with doing the same thing. Which is fine; as long as you know the trade-off you're making.

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