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  • Al Painter, NASM-CPT, CES, PES


Alright, we are going to have a come to Yoda moment here on the blog. We are going to be honest with each other, and you're probably not going to like the muscular mirror I'm going to make you look in.

Are you ready? Here we go.

Based on 15 years of experience in the fitness industry, I'm going to confidently tell you the following:

Your workout is probably a huge ball of fitness fail and a complete waste of time.

How's that for a fitness friendly how do you do? However brutal that may sound, I feel it is a pretty accurate reflection of how most people "workout." From the insane, to the mundane and all points of PE in between, the vast majority of the people who exercise are probably doing it the wrong way, with bad form and as fast as they can.

Appreciate the honesty people. Its what this blog brings to the table. With that said, here are the five reasons why your workout doesn't work.

1) You Use Random Acts of Fitness As Your Plan

Thanks to the internet and the umpteen zillion (yes, that is an actual number....) fitness apps, blogs and "workouts" that exist, exercise variety is not in short supply when it comes to programs you can do. However quality of said information is.

Because of the above mentioned abundance of "fitness (mis)information," it makes it easy to jump around from program to program being a jack of all movements and master of none. If you buy your workouts after midnight from an infomercial, chances are you've just wasted your money.

2) You Think Each Workout Entails Complete Bodily Destruction

Despite what the fitspiration philosophers say, they key to your success in the gym is not built on completely flogging yourself each time you exercise. Our bodies aren't meant to take a continual pounding multiple times a year, let alone a week.

As Dan John said in his book "INTERVENTION," don't be that person who is over conditioned and under trained. Being able to do 3,000 jumping jacks in a minute doesn't mean jack if if takes you can't perform 10 pushups with GOOD form.

3) You aren't working on fundamentals

HIT is sexy, mastering basics isn't. We want results yesterday, but we don't want to work on things today that make future results possible.

If you can't get in and out of a chair correctly moving slowly, then a box jump, clean and jerk, explosive lunge, etc are things you SHOULDN'T be doing until you can. Is this boring? Yes.

Is it effective? You bet your glutes it is.

4) "Cardiogaplyolates," The LOL of the G-Y-M

Here's another fitness industry group class "method" that has become pretty popular. You pick about 72 different ways to train and you do them at the same time in a single workout. Ride a bike while kettlebell swinging as you shadow box doing yoga poses on a vibrating plate while you do jumping jacks. Oh yeah, you have to be Paleo to apply as well. Slight exaggeration? Probably. Far from the truth? You'd be surprised

Think of it as the WTF of H-I-T. Or as Mike Boyle calls it, "shit soup."

Meaning, throw in vegetables, fruits and meats into a blender, mix it up, then drink it. While each component on its own is good for you, they taste terrible when combined.

5) It Hurts, But You Still Do It

Using the "this is what I've done since high school" program is about the absolute dumbest way to workout. If I trained the way I did in high school, chances are I wouldn't be training all that often. "Functional at 45" is where I'm at now, and I train accordingly

Pain is your body's way of saying "um, stop." This is indicative that something is wrong, and you just may want to get it looked at.


The Muscular Moral of The Story

I wish it was as easy as saying "just don't do stupid things, use your head, make a plan, move the way that we are meant to and progress gradually toward your goal." But I've been in this game long enough to know it doesn't work like this.

So I'm going to help you out with five ways that will help your workouts work a lot better. Here they are:

1) Master the basics

Perfect the way you carry a load (this one is pretty hard to screw up, but then again it was once thought low-fat was good for us so there you go), squat, hinge, pull, push and resist lateral forces. This is how are our bodies are meant to work.

2) Use any book by Dan John as your training template

To the first point, John's books are worth their weight in gold. They breakdown how to keep you from breaking down in an incredibly simple fashion. The workouts are rooted in mastery of fundamentals, sound training advice and a common sense approach to fitness.

3) Pick one phase of training at a time

When I train people, I like to take them through multiple phases of training. This approach is akin to learning a language or getting better at math. Essentially, you create foundational building blocks to successfully move to the next level of complexity. Slow and steady wins the race my friends.

4) Don't be a one trick pony

This means, don't fall in love with your fastball and only use one methodology of exercise. This especially applies to those who are in the process of building "long lean muscles" who never pick up anything heavier than their water bottle. My advice to you is look up "osteopenia" and what the recommendations are to prevent it.

AFTER you've mastered the fundamentals, learn how to incorporate carries, squats, hinges, pulling, pushing and anti-rotation using kettlebells, dumbbells, bands, suspension equipment, bodyweight, etc. You'll have more freedom (not to mention variety) with your workout programming.

5) Stick with your plan

After you've created your plan, put the horse blinders on and get after it until you are done. Essentially start what you finish. You'd be amazed at how far you can progress when you exercise methodically.

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