There are many activities that can be used when attempting to prevent or manage injury and disease, promote physical activity, or redefine performance. But ultimately, the utility of any intervention will depend on the population being targeted and how it is administered, promoted and/or performed. For example, short distance sprints would be appropriate for an ACL injury prevention program designed specifically for soccer players…if an emphasis was placed on frontal plane knee motion control. Likewise, a single-joint machine-based exercise such as leg extensions may be appropriate…if being used to increase the confidence of a performer who was engaging in exercise for the first time. For this reason, the ability to think critically, problem solve, and evaluate fashionable claims is paramount to the success of any exercise professional. Often, “it depends” is the most appropriate response to describe the utility of a particular intervention. However, it is the ability to know why “it depends” that will distinguish exceptional professionals who impact lives from those who simply design good workouts.
Because there is no magic exercise and no single “best” way to achieve any particular goal – there are many ways that exercise can be used to improve health, fitness and performance – exceptional professionals must integrate new evidence, use varying approaches and make every attempt to understand why “it depends” and what “it depends” on.
4 reasons why it depends…
- Most clients have different interests and ambitions. Influence what they love! Running can be a great way to build cardiovascular endurance…for clients that enjoy running. If your clients don’t like running, choose a different activity.
- Our clients’ abilities, awareness, motivation, etc. influence how they move. Movement is a learned behavior! Improving a client’s front plank time could be important…if it influences how they control their low back while performing a life-relevant activity. Make your clients’ exercise matter.
- Exercises are simply tools. Movement matters! Kettlebell swings and snatches can be excellent exercises to improve hip power…for clients that perform by hinging at the hips while controlling flexion and extension of the low back. Each exercise can also be the gateway to chronic low back pain.
- Nothing ever works out exactly as planned on paper. Focus on implementation! High intensity whole-body circuits can be empowering…in a supportive and enthusiastic environment. Do not overlook the role and importance of effective communication.