Is your gym program still effective for your current needs?

Lots of people do the same workout, same exercises, same weights, in the same order, day in and out. However is this a good thing?  Throughout our lives our body changes and therefore so should our exercise regime.

One gym program will not fit all individual needs, for all of their life.  When you look at how 10, 50 or even 100 people walk or run, not one will move the same. We are truly unique.

These differences are important to factor in when designing a gym program.  Not only our structural differences, past injuries, general health, job activities and hobbies, stress and sleep levels but also our age. Our needs in our 20s will no doubt be different to our needs in our 50s but it is amazing how despite all the changes that may have happened over time, many people stick with the same gym program. 

Even though we all are unique, we do share a lot of commonalities and generally it is agreed that our joints benefit from even muscle balance across them.  However what happens if you largely sit for 8 hours a day at work, in a bent flexed position at the knees and hips and then in your spare time you go cycling, also in a flexed position. Then at the gym you choose to do rowing and Russian twist obliques with a medicine ball, again encouraging hip and knee flexion.  Long term this could cause a muscle imbalance around the hips potentially leading to problems in the lower back, hip and/or knee joints, increasing the risk of joint pain and injury.

A better choice could be the cross trainer which encourages a more upright and symmetrical movement and a gluteal shoulder bridge exercise to add strength to the posterior hip while increasing flexibility to the front of the hip. If your body is telling you that you are inflexible and uncomfortable then you should think about yoga rather than HIIT, if you have back ache and a weak core then consider Pilates not boxing. If you are weaker on one side, unilateral exercises are a great way to increase balance and functional strength.

In recent years the primary focus of fitness is strength and stability as this encourages staying active and protecting joints. This is great, however it doesn’t take into account how symmetrical we are as individuals. Symmetry, or more specifically, the lack of symmetry, is the most significant predictor of future injuries. The more symmetrical you are, the less likely you are to incur an injury, regardless of how strong you are. If we compare ourselves to a car, if one wheel isn’t symmetrical to the other three, then this will have a bearing on how the car works, and where the wear and tear will develop first.

So while we are inherently asymmetrical in some ways, do take a moment to create balance and increase your symmetry in your movements with the exercises you choose to do to enable your body to keep performing well for you.

Ideally your exercise routine should be a variety of exercise types that challenge your body in different ways in order to ensure that your body is balanced, and your fitness program is well rounded. Try to mix strength, stretching and cardiovascular into your schedule being aware of working on what you need most, based on how you currently use your body for example at work and what your goals are.