I’m an advocate of being fit and healthy using the methods that work best for you. I like keeping things positive with a not-one-size-fits-all approach. It’s up to each of us to stay educated about fitness and choose the path rocks the party for us. To me, the most important component of being fit and healthy is enjoying getting there and staying there. Or we’ll never even get started.
There are strong forces out there telling us all to do things a certain way. Lots of messages saying we need “it,” are doing it wrong, or must do it a certain way. I choose to reject many of these messages and question what I hear, including the following two areas.
The media push is SO strong here. You almost want to duck your head and hide these days if you still do a split weight-lifting routine. I even read (in a very good article) that split body-part training is a “virtually thing of the past.”
Now I do agree that relying too heavily on isolation exercises (such as the leg extension or bicep curl) instead of compound exercises (such as the squat) isn’t wise and could weaken the functioning of the body as a whole. Muscles and joints need to fire efficiently together, not by one muscle overcompensating for the others. In fact, as a personal trainer I’ll be using full-body, functional workouts with most of my new clients. Why? Because this type of workout is best for new lifters, people pressed for time, and people interested in overall conditioning but not necessarily hypertrophy.
However, you can use a split routine effectively and safely and still be well-rounded, conditioned, and athletic. I’ve used a split routine for years and am very conditioned and do not suffer from injuries. I can break into a run any day and never feel aches or pains. I feel strong and capable of jumping into (almost) any physical situation. I love taking my sweet time in the gym and focusing on different areas and I love the results.
I do try to integrate full-body exercises into my routine once a week, such as the one-armed snatch and step-curl-to-press. But I’m not changing the basic way I work out just because the media and “experts” are telling me to. Which leads me to the next message I’ve chosen to ignore.
“You shouldn’t train for aesthetics.”
Well why not? Looking good isn’t the only reason I lift weights, as anyone who follows this blog knows. But I do train for aesthetics too and I’m not ashamed of it, even though many authoritative voices say you should only train for athletic or “functional” purposes.
One of the things that drive people to get fit in the first place is to change how they look. Why shouldn’t they want bigger arms, leaner legs, more shapely calves? Weight lifting is one way to do that. Why do people who lift and strive for aesthetics get a bad rap but people who do cardio to lose weight do not? They both want to change their bodies.
Lifting weights to change your body is different than the sport of bodybuilding, by the way. There are long-term negative consequences of training like a bodybuilder, such as muscle imbalances and injuries. Those who participate in the sport are making choices and doing what they love. I don’t train like a bodybuilder and can still get the desired physical effects and do it safely.
Not everyone trains the same or has the same goals, so why should we all listen to the same advice? There is so much good information out there to learn from, and I take advantage of it every day. But we have to parse it or we’ll become frustrated and unmotivated. Always remember the most important component of being healthy and fit: enjoying getting there and staying there.