Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Safety first

All of my clients and classes today were canceled because of snow. Basically, because it wasn't safe for everyone to drive up to the gym to train.

This made me think about criteria for evaluating exercises. Your number one criteria helps determine what you do or do not do. Essentially it causes you to eliminate activities that might help you reach your goal but which do not meet your criteria.

Let's say your number one goal is increasing your strength, and your number one criteria is safety.

Your goal determines what you do - you're going to emphasize exercises that improve your strength. Should I jog or deadlift? The latter increases strength, the former doesn't, so you do the latter. Should I do 5 x 5 or 3 x 10? The former is more geared to strength, the latter hypertrophy (increasing muscle size), so you choose the former. That's how you determine by goals.

Your criteria further narrow it down. If safety is your first goal, you're going to toss any exercises that cause you to flex your spine under a load. You might be able to do that safely, but you might not . . . so better safe then sorry and you toss it. Same with depth jumps and explosive lifts while tired - you might get stronger doing them, but you risk a little bit more so you avoid them. You essentially make a Venn diagram, and whatever falls in the circles encompassing "strength" and "safe" you execute.

If your goal was fat loss and your criteria was speed, you'd choose exercises and routines that emphasized caloric burn and a diet that supported that goal (heck, diet will be most of it). Then you'd be willing to include exercises and dietary choices that might not be 100% safe, but which give you more speedy results.

I could go on, but I think you get enough right here. My general choice for clients is safety as the #1 criteria - whatever falls under "safe long-term and short-term" and gets them progress towards their goal is what I want them to do. If something will get them there faster, but with a risk of injury or long-term negative consequences . . . we don't do it. For my own training, performance is the criteria, so I occasionally do things that aren't 100% safe and which may have long-term negative consequences if I push them too hard too long. It's a tradeoff, and your goals + your criteria help you determine what fits and what doesn't.

Sort of like how "driving on icy roads" ties fails the "safety" test and causes me to tell clients to stay home!

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