From time to time I meet members of the community who are just as excited about helping people as I am. They’re knowledgable in their field and do a great job at helping people to change their life. On occasion I invite these folks to share vital health information through our blog site. This blog post is a special one by a guy who is an all around cool dude, Zach Voigt. He is the owner of Level 10 Fitness in Ann Arbor. In his gym, Zach focuses on functional fitness, which incorporates normal movement skills that we use everyday. Zach is well versed in fitness and nutrition and has helped many people achieve their fitness goals. He is a great resource for health and fitness and from time to time I myself have picked his brain on the topic of weight lifting and CrossFit. Enjoy his post and by all means checkout his website.
Just Doing What You Know is a Trap
Your current fitness program is missing a key element. That’s why you haven’t made the progress you want to see, that’s why your shoulders, knees, and back hurt, and that’s why dragging yourself to the gym is getting so frustrating and it’s hard to get there more than a few times per week.
Knowing what to do at the gym is tough. As humans, when faced with uncertainty we usually fall back on what we know, and this is never more true than when going to the gym for the first time. People see a bench press on YouTube, and it looks simple enough, so let’s do that. Squats hurt your back and knees? Let’s never do those ever again. Even if they do a lot of research online and find a weight training program full of things they can do, that program may not fit their specific needs and goals. Just doing what you know is a trap that stops you from learning more and creating the most important aspect of fitness: BALANCE. By that I mean muscular balance, as in the right proportions of strength front-to-back, side-to-side, and top-to-bottom.
Every Exercise is a Tool
Now, I don’t mean to get down on any one exercise. The bench press is a great exercise for developing your chest muscles, building strength and power in the horizontal plane, and man, does it feel good. But if all you do is bench press, or even if you mix it up with dumbbells and push ups but stay in the horizontal plane (pushing away from you to the front), you’re creating a dangerous imbalance that leads to injury and discomfort, and that’s assuming you’re doing all of these things correctly in the first place. You need to pull horizontally (ring rows, face pulls, pendlay rows, bent over rows, dumbbell rows, rowing machine, etc.) just as much as you push horizontally (bench press, push ups, floor press, skull crushers, incline press, dips, etc.). Do your fitness goals involve being good at the bench press for a powerlifting competition? If not, then you don’t have to bench press, especially if you have pain in your shoulders, chest, or elbows. No one needs to run, no one needs to do sit ups, no one needs to do push ups, at least not right away. We need to do the right exercises that address your specific needs and problems. Every exercise is a tool that moves you forward or backwards, so you have to choose wisely.
“But how can I know what I should be doing?” you say. I totally hear you, it can be daunting to try to put together your own plan and summon years of knowledge and experience out of the aether. Some of us dedicate our lives to learning more about fitness and the science of health. To expect yourself to be able to cook up a program that contains all human knowledge of anatomy and physiology by reading a few blog posts and looking at Instagram is ridiculous. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself! We’re here to help.
Fitness Must Be Sustainable
Our programs are designed with the long-term in mind. Your fitness will not improve by working at the wrong things for two months, even if they feel good, and then recovering from injury for six months. We focus on functional movements that actually help you be better at life, and we can change everything we do every day to meet your specific needs. Once you have established balance in your body, the world is your oyster! But first let’s make sure your body is ready to take on any challenge injury-free.