Over the years I’ve seen plenty of fitness trends come and go. Tae Bo anyone? The fitness industry is always looking for the next trend to sell to the masses who want a quick, easy, and, perhaps most importantly, sexy and entertaining fix. Since I mentioned Tae Bo, it seems group fitness is the worst offender. After all, doing the same dance moves gets boring after a while, no matter how great of a workout the dance moves might be. Beyond group fitness, however, I think personal trainers tend to be the second worst offenders. Being a personal trainer and seeing the wacky things my fellow trainers do with their clients sometimes makes me a little embarrassed to be a trainer.
The trend over the last 5 years or so has definitely been exercises and techniques borrowed from Crossfit. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some great trends that have come out of Crossfit. Women lifting heavy things is probably the BEST thing to come out of Crossfit. It’s awesome to see women finally losing their fear of lifting heavy. Also, it’s great to see squatting and deadlifting become part of everyone’s routine. I just wish people would learn proper form before deciding they should attempt big-ass PRs! Squats and deadlifts GOOD! Shitty form BAD!
Now to my rant. Recently I’ve noticed another trend -- especially with personal trainers. The trend seems to be that the more equipment used and the more setup time required for an exercise somehow makes it more effective. What?! Please explain to me the purpose of strapping rubber bands onto barbells and dumbbells. And why is a special piece of equipment required for nearly every exercise? Bands, chains, pads for barbells, extra large grips for barbells and dumbbells, front squat barbell-on-your-chest holder thingy!!!???
I understand that certain pieces of equipment can be helpful for advanced trainees who have mastered the basics and need a little extra stimulus to push past their plateaus. However, most personal training clients are nowhere-near the point of needing that extra push. They need to master the basics.
Before a trainee uses extra equipment or does extra-wacky exercises I want to see a double-bodyweight squat and deadlift with perfect form. I want to see 15 unassisted pullups. I want to see a 1.5X bodyweight bench press and barbell row. Finally, I want to see a bodyweight barbell lunge.
These exercises work. These are the basics. Nothing more is needed because the basics basically work. They might not be sexy, but they’ll keep you busy and progressing for years.