If you are one of the thousands of Americans who started a fad workout this week, there’s a question you might want to ask yourself before you get hurt.
Not, why am I working out? The benefits are obvious.
Rather, “Why do I want to do this specific workout program?”
Orthopedic surgeon Derek Ochiai says if more people took the time to honestly answer that question, fewer weekend warriors might come to his Arlington, Va., office with workout injuries.
If you’ve decided to do DVD workouts like P90X or Insanity because your friends swear by them or the infomercials are inspirational, you haven’t put enough thought into your workout plan.
“You need to take honest stock of yourself,” he said. “What are you able to do?”
Workout fads in and of themselves are not a bad thing.
“They can get people motivated,” Ochiai said. “And there are cardio and musculoskeletal benefits to these workouts.”
The trouble lies in the choosing. Choose wisely and you might be ripped in 90 days. Choose poorly and you might be in a doctor’s office.
From DVD workouts to boot camps, CrossFit to pole dancing classes, a poor approach can result in nagging overuse injuries or painful back, knee and hip problems.
“These workouts are made for somebody,” Ochiai said. “But they aren’t made for everybody.”
Consider P90X and Insanity. These workouts are challenging and offer impressive results, but Ochiai points out they are really designed for people who are already in pretty good shape.
“It’s not a class with an instructor,” Ochiai said. “If there is an instructor on there screaming at you to do 10 more reps, that doesn’t mean that’s what you should do.”
If you got one of these workouts or something similar for Christmas, Ochiai says to remember it could be a big jump from your current fitness level.
“Too many people just start trying to push through the exercises instead of trying to build up to it,” Ochiai said.
Before diving in, he recommends watching the workouts and honestly accessing if you are ready. P90X, for example, comes with an assessment test to determine if the program is over your head. Also, keep in mind you don’t have to do the entire workout.
You can do the parts of the workouts you feel comfortable with. You can stop if it seems prudent. You can walk away completely and put together a more appropriate workout program.
It’s a DVD. The instructor will never know.
“Pay attention to your form and not the reps and intensity,” Ochiai said.
Couch to 5K is a popular phone app workout designed to help people launch running programs. And while the program brings people along slowly, Ochiai says it still might be too fast for some people. He’s seen people injured trying to follow the program.
Don’t feel obligated to run farther just because a computer program says you should.
“There is no one size fits all workout,” Ochiai said.
Likewise, Ochiai says don’t rely on the instructor at your local bootcamp/Zumba/CrossFit/yoga class to perfectly match workouts to your fitness level.
“If you are unsure if you should do something you are probably right,” Ochiai said.
It’s OK to modify your form or ask an instructor for an alternative exercise.
If you think you’ll be susceptible to peer pressure working out in a group setting, Ochiai says maybe cautiously try some of the exercises at home first, then work your way to where you can perform them.
Creating your own workout groups with friends you trust can also be a good idea.
“You can watch each other and support each other in a positive way,” Ochiai said.
Practicing in Virginia, Ochiai follows the Washington Redskins and says he’ll watch this afternoon when they host the Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs.
He says pondering how these finely tuned NFL athletes got to this point can unveil good lessons for those trying to launch a journey to more modest fitness goals.
“The Seattle Seahawks don’t just show up in September and start playing football,” Ochiai said. “They build up to it. They increase what they are doing slowly so they’re less likely to get hurt.”Craig Hill’s fitness column runs Sundays. Submit questions and comments via email@example.com and twitter.com/AdventureGuys. Also get more fitness coverage at blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure and thenewstribune.com/fitness.