Hey Coach! What is the best fitness /exercise program for the general population?
Good question self. Let me think…It depends.
No doubt physical activity for everyone should be a priority. One of life’s non negotiables Regardless of if you are genetically gifted and naturally talented or overweight and sedentary. I don’t believe in bests or worst or good or bad. Rather I like to think of the characteristics being developed that everyone can benefit from and given the degree of skill, intensity and goals of the individual can be adjusted across the spectrum of age, ability, competency, and Interest.
Strength for me is a must. Preservation and improvement of maximal muscular contractions is vital to our ability to navigate through life and accomplish challenging or physically demanding task more easily is what I personally prioritize as the foundation of my programs and feel most training regiments should have as a component. Even more so as we become older and observe what used to be a simple act now demands more energy or strength. In the mature (Masters) and Geriatric community, the prevention of Muscular Atrophy should be prioritized for prevention of fall injuries, loss of bone density hormonal balance and longevity, appetite, and daily tasks such as climbing stairs, lifting children and groceries or fending off attackers. Tho dumbbells and limited equipment for the home gym is more common more than ever, there is no mistake that the Barbell is powerful tool to move heavier loads. I personally enjoy working as heavy as possible for reps in the 5-8 range as this is a sweet spot for strength gains.
Cardiovascular Capacity and Endurance. Not only must our muscle be strong, but they must be prepared to work in conjunction with the heart and lunges to promote vascular health and stamina. Ideally these conditioning pieces are planned for sustainable periods of work, intervals, cyclical in nature with movements that are of low to moderate in skill level and promote multiple submaximal contractions and sustainably high to moderate heart rate. Training for endurance not suffering.
A program must be progressive from the individuals’ point of view. Of course, there are baseline movements that we as coaches believe are fundamental to perform before more intense and dynamic contractions. We would like to see the full range of motion for the Squat, Push Up, Lunge and hopefully pull up or chin. Also, endurance in isometric exercises for a Plank, Glute Bridge Hold and maybe a wall sit. We still must acknowledge that everyone is different will be at different levels. So, there may need to be variations of the fundamental exercise that have the student move through the greatest range of motion possible without pain and proper form or positioning that compliments the students body type and limitations. An exercise or movement is just that and exercise or movement. Not a scale.
Lastly, the regimen is to be enjoyable, sustainable, and connected to the student. Nobody wants a nagging or complaining student. Regardless of if the work being hard or challenges mental and physical toughness. It’s important that the style of exercise is something that the trainee looks forward to doing. It gets very old very quickly to hear “how are you going to kill me today?” or “I hate burpees”. This openly negative rhetoric does not benefit your coach nor the mindset attempting to be developed for you or the others if you are in a group fitness environment. A positive and fortuitous mindset must be developed for the individual hoping to keep fitness as a lifestyle. The trainee with success is the one that understands that the hard work and discipline to the program moves the needle in a positive direction and knows that discomfort is a part of the package.
Ultimately everything is an experiment. Your mind and body are the test subject, and it is good to try different things in order to find what yields the greatest level fulfillment, goal achievement and most importantly creates a healthier and more physically capable person. All programs require commitment and discipline for a determined amount of time for the trainee to gain competency and see results over a period greater than 6 months to year. Or else, how else would you know if it really benefits you. Coaches must remember we are building individuals to withstand life’s challenges.
Life is hard, so we must be harder.