Thursday, June 25, 2009

Why It's a Good Idea to Vary Your Class's Strength Training Exercises

Today, I got some happy news from one of my students. He emailed me to tell me that because of our strength training workout in class last night, he managed to work out a pain in his lower back and hips that had been bothering him for some time. It was because of a pelvic lift exercise that I ran with the class that was newly introduced to him.

As an instructor, it's easy to get in the habit of using the same types of strength training exercises class to class, not just for the purpose of strengthening different muscle groups (though variety of that sort is also important), but doing different exercises that exercise the same groups. I am even guilty of it myself on occasion, so every so often I try to bring in something new.

For lower back strengthening, I often use back crunches in which you lie flat on their belly and lift up your upper body off the mat. Last night, I ran my students though pelvic lifts instead, in which you lie on your back and lift your lower back and hips off the mat (as shown in the picture above). And on that evening, it was just the right exercise for that particular student I mentioned. Apparently, it stretched out the area in just the right way that it seemed to correct a problem that had been causing the pain in his hips.

Beyond this wonderful success story, it is worth pointing out that the body does get used to exercises that are repeated regularly, which causes your muscles to get complacent, so to speak. This is why it's a good idea to try and vary the types of exercises.

Instead of just using push-ups to work out the pecs, chest passes using a medicine ball can be used, or resistance training using weights or resistance bands. Instead of using stomach crunches, you can do medicine ball tosses on the abs (great for working the inner abs for taking hits), or just holding the plank position for a minute or two, or any of the myriad other options out there. This will keep your or your students' bodies on their toes and give them a better overall conditioning program.

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