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New Year, New Exercises?

I saw it today: the article in the local newspaper featuring the “squatting arm pull”. Almost as inevitable as the “this year I get back in shape” resolutions, are the pieces with new exercises that are supposed to help you fulfill that goal.

The problem is that these articles are written by authors who seem to forget their audience: out of shape people.

Generally, the exercises are challenging and fun, but frequently feature a mixture of motions (like combining regions – exercising both the lower and upper body; or combining actions – walking while lifting something) and are probably not appropriate for many readers. If you are not already in decent shape it is unlikely that you can safely or correctly perform these activities.

The problem is that with combinations of motions, you need to focus on too many things simultaneously to do them all correctly, particularly if you are a bit out of shape. For me, the classic example is the ‘walking lunge’. This happens all the time, people trying to do a lunge while walking – and doing neither well: they are off balance, lunges bent forward or to the side, knees wobbly, shoulders tight.

So what should you do if you are returning to the gym and trying to get back into shape? Although perhaps not as fun or trendy, the good old strength training machines at your local gym  are an ideal starting point. These machines are designed reduce the number of things you have to do at any one time (generally to work 1 joint and group of muscles). That makes them easier and safer. When you use all the machines, you ideally get a full body workout. If you do the circuit without long breaks between machines, you keep your heart rate consistently elevated for a decent cardio workout. All of this while minimizing your chance of injury.

So skip the ‘walking lunge’. Forget the the ‘squatting arm pulls”. Keep your New Year’s resolution by hitting the machines at your local gym.



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