People like to be given simple prescriptions. When it comes to exercising, most of us want to be told we can do X exercise at Y weight, Z times a week, and stick to ticking off these numbers for results. This is a bad way to think when it comes to improving your body, and for resolving issues like knee pain – and an education in the way you develop your exercises over time is easily as important as understanding how to perform the exercises themselves.
Your body is a constantly changing thing that requires dedicated attention and flexible management. It’s important to understand how the body will develop, and what you need to do to keep progressing – and relying on a personal trainer to give you lists of numbers to tick will not, on its own, achieve the results you need.
A lot of exercise programs are simply a list of exercises and numbers that are arbitrarily produced without much meaning. This is common practice, making it expected, and even desirable, but it is done to make life simpler. Unfortunately, taking simple and easy options to movement and exercise is what causes our bodies to adopt harmful movement patterns. Only through facing challenges can we improve the body.
Exercising by example
Earlier, we provided a brief guide to a sissy squat training regime for the purposes of example. In doing so we emphasised that the regime should be adapted to personal needs, and that your progress requires monitoring and adaptation. Yet even in our sissy squat example, it is clear that every training session should be different, as you push for improvements. The example demonstrates possible set and rep numbers, but what’s really important in the example is that the possible sets and reps, and movements, increase. This is vital. No two exercise sessions should be the same – week to week you should note your progress.
Accounting for success
You need to be accountable for your own improvements, and this is not restricted to mere numbers. Every exercise has a purpose, and you should follow every stage of your training with important questions, adapting according to the answers: Was that exercise hard? Do I need to do more reps? Do I need to add more weight? Did I push my knees out far enough? Did the pain lessen?
If you can’t step back and truthfully say each set you performed pushed you closer to success, then the exercise you performed was done in vain. The exercises on this website are not for vain purposes, to make you look good or feel good about yourself. These lessons are designed to help you heal, to remove pain from your life and give you the option to move freely, with strength. All of these results will make feel good, and can make you look good, but those are fringe benefits, not the goal.
So always be aware that you need to really understand what you’re doing, how your body is behaving and what effect the exercises are having. With that understanding, you can overcome your physical limitations.
The next few sections we publish will help you adopt this mindset for the different exercises we have offered, telling you what to look out for if you want to improve and keep improving.