It Takes a Season ( Part II )

Seasons  Today I want to elaborate on last week’s newsletter titled “It takes a season”. As you may recall, the topic of our discussion was training injuries, and the amount of time it takes to heal (usually 3 – 4 months). This week, I want to piggy back on the same topic and discuss exercise progression and avoiding exercise injury. Whenever I meet someone new and the conversation comes around to what I do for a living, I am always  asked the same question: “Does this program or exercise work?” They are usually referring to an exercise they found in a magazine or a training program they saw on TV. My standard answer is YES. Most exercises work. The trick is to do them right, AND to do them at the right time.  For example, plyometric exercises like jump squats, hops, and explosive push-ups are examples of exercises I would classify as power movements. The definition of power is the ability to do work with velocity or speed.  Plyometric or power exercises require at least 8 weeks of conditioning and strength work to prepare the body to adapt to this type of high intensity exercise. The same goes for high intensity exercise programs that you see advertised on TV.  Young and in-shape models moving quickly and explosively. Exciting? Absolutely!  Effective? It depends on your level of conditioning. You cannot jump into a high intensity workout. You have to invest a season (2-3 months)  conditioning your body and building an adequate level of  strength before you even  think about moving the body in a quick manner (without risking injury).  At Tip Top Fitness Training, our training philosophy states: “If you have not trained for 3 months to 3 years, and or have some sort of pathology (meniscus tear, shoulder pain, or herniation in the upper and or lower spine) explosive exercise programs are definitely contraindicated.

Let me give you an example from my own experience what happens when you don’t follow correct exercise progression. In 2009, I had just left training at a big box gym and had developed a small but burgeoning client base in a small private training studio. I remember I was really pushing my clients to achieve their exercise goals… in record time. I was following exercise progression protocol perfectly ( at least I thought) and my clients were progressing nicely. Than out of the blue, 5 of my clients developed shin splints.  Coincidence? Not a chance. The problem was I had not been training my client’s lower body to withstand explosive training. There upper body was ready due to proper training protocol. However, the calves were not prepared to handle explosive high speed movements.  Their injury was a direct result of my failure to follow proper progression.

Point is this: Always start slow with exercise intensity. Results will come. But you must remain patient. Invest a season conditioning your body and building a strength base. Circumventing proper progression always leads to injury and long down times.

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