What do I do? The answers that EVERY Rehab, Fitness, and Exercise Pro is dancing around

What do I do? The answers that EVERY Rehab, Fitness, and Exercise Pro is dancing around

So THIS is the year that you’re going to get things in gear. Got it. Well it could be as simple as picking up that old sport you enjoyed once upon a time or dusting off that bike in the basement. Unfortunately, while this should start with some fact finding for most of us, this rarely gets done. When we do, we typically only find the most basic info which really doesn’t prepare us for the physical onslaught we’ll be putting our bodies through, which ultimately leads to frustration and quitting whatever we’ve started. There’s a ton, and I mean an absolutely MASSIVE volume of old DVDs, VHS cassettes, books, magazines and internet bits all dedicated to organizing “the best and most effective exercise programs for shedding those pounds and building that body you’ve always wanted.” But for all of the fads and gurus, there are only two (2) rules you MUST follow to build yourself the most EFFECTIVE exercise “program”; these are the points that every physical therapy and personal fitness pro has been dancing around and repackaging for eons. As long as there is someone out there who doesn’t understand how to really implement these 2 key pieces of the puzzle, the avalanche of DVD’s and mountains of useless fitness equipment will never stop. You ready for them?…


Exercise/Play Harder

Most people don’t exercise nearly hard enough to elicit plateau-free gains and in some cases, gains at all. Whether you’re working out with free weights, kettle bells, using Olympic lifts, running/walking on a treadmill, using a jump rope or anything else, the vast majority of exercisers don’t work hard enough.

You know the type: it’s that pair of fraternity boys in the corner decked out in every exercise accessory they could find at ah. nevermindSports Authority. At every opportunity, they take a corner-of-their-eye glance in the mirror in the precise spot where the overhead lights shine down for that confidence boosting shadow. They take way too much rest and hype each other for WAY submaximal efforts. Don’t be these guys.

If you want to get some numbers about your work, heart rate monitors can be very helpful. You may also be in-tune enough to use a ‘rate of perceived exertion’ scale. Simply put, you ask yourself, “How hard am I working right now?” Use a 1-10 scale or, if you want to be really fancy, the 6-20 scale. Each of these will be relative to each individual but I you do it enough you can develop a good sense of how hard you’re working and make adjustments to exercises, weights and volumes from there. Lots of exercise machines have built-in heart rate monitors. These are rarely accurate but they do provide some feedback that the exerciser can go by.

The short story is that you should be exerting yourself.

Target HR=(220-age)x .8 (for math averse folks)

Target HR=((HRmax − HRrest) × .8 intensity) + HRrest

Many people are now going with fancy wrist or belt-worn accelerometers/pedometers. These are great to monitor exercise volume (how MUCH you are doing), but not all of them can sense how HARD you are working. Choose one that will perform the tasks you need and give it a shot. Work REGULARLY and STOP RESTING!! You don’t need to use EVERY single machine in the gym and you don’t need to take 5 minutes between each set.


Exercise/Play More Often

The human body is amazingly resilient. It always wants movement inputs and movement challenges. The thing is that we are so good at getting used to movement that we need to challenge the system far more often than most care to. It isn’t unheard of to exercise every day of the week. If you’re just starting an exercise program aim to be doing SOMETHING vigorous at least 5 days per week for 30 – 45 minutes each day. Even if you fall short of this goal, it’s highly likely that you will still be exercising/playing more regularly than 95% of your contemporaries. This is a GREAT start. After a short time you will see and feel the gains and be further encouraged to follow rule #1 and add to rule #2.

I have one more bit of advice that may be useful — but only if you’ve mastered the first two rules:


Record how heavy, how much and the variety of your exercise. You don’t expect your physician or your physical therapist to treat you by memory, right? It’s likely that they are taking lots of notes and examining specific measures to compare. Your own conditioning is no different. You will be SHOCKED to see how quickly you make appreciable gains if you can actually recall what you did the last time you exercised and then worked to continuously improve on ANY one thing.

SMH. Always!

There aren’t words for the silliness I see in the gym

Ever have a friend who couldn’t stop talking about work? You go with him/her to a cocktail party or dinner and every word out of their mouth is about how great their sales are or how that new widget they created is so great. Their talk usually gets old but it will almost always run it’s course because the conversation simply moves on. NOT for me. It’s kind of a curse actually. Our business is MOVEMENT. I can’t keep my eyes open without noticing the most basic to the most intricate pieces of human movement. Those of us who take our work this seriously are almost never in ‘sleep’ mode.That’s it. This stuff is pretty easy. I’ve spent more than 15 years watching people move. My colleagues and I are what you might consider movement/exercise snobs. Not because we do it better than anyone else; far from it. I wish I had it in me to follow both of these rules EVERY single time I exercised. What it mean is that we have watched hundreds of thousands of people move as well as put our hands on them to make this movement the BEST IT CAN BE. It’s our main function as physical therapists. We have many years of experience as strength and conditioning pros, so the number of people we’ve had the pleasure to help is off the charts.

We’ve watched you move. We’ve watched you exercise. We’ve watched you play, and in a lot of cases, we’ve put you back together again. The 2 things that we see across-the-board is that if more people (read: everyone who isn’t already playing for pay) would (1) exercise/play harder AND (2) exercise/play more often, people like us would have much less to look at and shake our shake heads. SPARK University

I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve tactfully begun conversations with my current “mark” only to be shut down before I could get to the real science behind movement and training. Everyone believes they are experts. The reasons for this is there’s far too much bullcrap info available on the Internet and otherwise. This is why we’re starting SPARK University. It will be the first client/patient/colleague/public resource to house peer-reviewed literature (complete with professional synopses), video posts, blog posts and resource web pages that we share with our own clients and colleagues. If you want to work, be treated or operate like we do here at SPARK Physiotherapy, this should be your first stop.