Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is More Intensity Always Better?

Personal Training Overlooking Melbourne Catego...Image via WikipediaAs a personal trainer in my 50s I realize the value of a good fitness program in helping me to stay healthy, strong, and active.  However, I'm bothered by some of the fitness routines I see trainers having people do who are over the age of 40.

It seems the more intense the program the better people think they are.  I see trainers having people who are over 40 jumping on and off plyometric boxes, (risking injury to their knees, ankles, and lower back) until they are drowning in their own sweat. I see people who are de-conditioned being pushed by trainers to do giant sets of push-ups, squats, lunges, and you name it until they literally can't move another muscle fiber.

It leads me to question whether doing more intensity is always better (especially for the 40 plus crowd)?  In my 17 years of experience as a personal trainer and a person over the age of 40, I have to say no.  You can have anyone do jump squats until they are standing in a pool of their own sweat, but is that necessary what they need?

When working with clients over the age of 40, you have to take the following things into consideration when designing a fitness program for them.
  • How long it's been since they've done any exercise regularly?
  • What kind of regular exercise are they use to doing?
  • Do they have any condition that requires a doctor's approval before beginning a physical fitness program?
  • Any prior injuries that would prohibit certain exercises?
  • The condition of their ankle, knee, and shoulder joints.
  • Their core strength.
  • Do they have any muscular skelotor imbalances?
  • Are their fitness goals realistic?
  • Are they former athletes?  Sometimes they think they can still do what they did 20 years ago.
I know as a trainer you want your clients to see results quickly.  However, sometimes the best workout you can do with your client is one where they don't even break a sweat. 

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