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What makes an exercise program successful?

Some characteristics of sucessfuly active adults

  • Successful or at least good past experiences, Motivated, and generally Enjoys movement
  • Known risk of chronic disease and perception that activity decreases risk
  • Spousal or family support (but not nagging)
  • Perceived available time, access (particularly for women at work), (competence of exercise leader), social reinforcement

Some characteristics of successful adult fitness programs

  • Available during the work day; Not perceived as a disruption; Social, Accessible, & Enjoyable
  • Competent trainer and Programming that targets specific needs of client
  • Socially and culturally accepted and supported (ie. in work culture)
  • Yields improvement (documented and noticeable)
  • Not painful and Directed toward “what is possible”

Rationale for Train-the-Trainer program

  • Increase access points (time of day, ability targeted, duration, intensity and nature of activity)
  • Decrease financial costs of programming while increasing fitness of people within organization
  • Offer variability in programming
  • Change culture of organization around health, fitness, and wellness
  • Promote and Support clients to take charge of their own health, fitness, and wellness
  • Develop fitness leader competency and over time increase physical literacy of organization

Programming Rationale

The pyramid below is a training progression (NASM ©) that assumes that most people have developed a movement compensation due to life and the way they live it.  Note the program starts with Corrective Training and progresses through 3-4 phases before arriving at a “traditional” strength training phase.

Traditional Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 8.34.08 PMtraining, where the focus in on prime mover strength for resistance training and linear volume changes in cardiovascular, is the starting point of most programming in the US.

Given that most people have developed movement compensations, an optimal training progression to encourage adherence to regular physical activity or exercise programming would be to first:

1. Identify muscle imbalances, postural and movement pattern problems and correct them.

Correction requires releasing tight structures through tissue release methods and static stretching.

Correction also requires strengthening muscles weakened by compensation and reteaching the nervous system how to stabilize and decelerate body momentum – this means slow movements

Finally correction requires reteaching the neuromuscular system a new movement pattern to replace the overused and compensating pattern – this means improving mobility in increasingly unbalanced environments.

2. All of this needs to happen before focusing on prime mover strength or power.

Correcting problems First

With many populations, we typically focus on the correctional phase of training attempting to minimize compensatory muscle imbalances and functional mobility problems. Each exercise is chosen because of its ability to increase mobility within a movement pattern common to the work you do. The goal is to increase “possible non-compensatory movement” so movement can become enjoyable and normalized in a person’s life.

Nature of Corrective Programming

In the corrective phase of the program, postural alignment and the tempo of the exercise is very important. The tempo is very slow so the stabilizing muscles can learn (or be triggered) to decelerate the body. If the body were moving faster it would have more momentum and generate greater forces overpowering the stabilizers and recruiting instead the prime movers. We also hold the exercise isometrically so that the neuromuscular system will be forced to activate all stabilizers needed to sustain this good posture.

Efficient and Possible

We also wanted to create programming that was efficient and something that most people could have success at – so we created the entire program to happen from a standing position. We also hoped to create a program that people could feel some “good” outcome immediately: feel better, successful, feel limitations but also that improvement can happen, feel looser, taller, more aware of posture and of body position. That is why it helps to do a “posture and how you feel check” before the program and then at the end. If you can create the link between the program and feeling better, you can start a change process that will link client effort and attention to the detail you describe in exercise form to positive outcomes. The more regular and intentional they are in the performing these exercises, the better they will feel and function.

Where does Mindfulness fit in?

Part of the purpose of this movement routine is to teach and practice mindfulness

Mindfulness Practices teach:

  • Bringing one’s full attention to the movement, stretch or exercise
  • Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.

Both of these are supported by the calm description and cuing of the exercise by the exercise leader.  The focus on breath and paying attention to how one’s body is feeling and responding, provides a practice for being present and more aware. This increased awareness supports high performance in allowing you to make more intentional choice around the stimuli that are impacting you.

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