What are you doing wrong in your fitness routine? | VailDaily.com

What are you doing wrong in your fitness routine?

Ryan W. Richards
Make It Count

I witnessed a runner on U.S. Highway 6 this morning who appeared overly fatigued. Her poor technique compounded by the terrible fact that running is just plain difficult, I concluded as I often do — that we don’t know, what we don’t know. The runner’s knees collapsed inward as she shuffled her feet along. She looked miserable from the exhaustion. Considering that I don’t run — why on earth would I subject myself to such masochistic behavior that would probably put me into the ER? I do however ask tough questions, and consider a bird’s eye view on what’s going on within our fitness culture. I asked myself after empathizing the plight of the runner, “What am I doing with my own health and fitness? Am I just shuffling my feet around exhausted, too?”

For months I have casually observed a not too young gentleman move around the gym with incredible authority. This bloke can move some iron. I watched him easily bench press 210 pounds for several repetitions. He bent over one day and picked up a few hundred pounds from the ground like a fat kid picking up candy at a Fourth of July parade. Pull-ups are easy for him. I guess he is 6 feet 2 inches and 175 pounds; quite wiry, and likely somewhere in his late 70s.

As I closed in a few weeks ago and began my initial assessment and exercise routine with this giant, I quickly found a host of problems with his overall movement competency. What a mess. But why does this matter? You see, we all come into the scene with our own subjective biases and considerations for what we believe is the right way to the Promised Land. Consider how much we need to reflect on what we’re doing and why. This aging giant has been a lifter for 60 years. It is his way of expressing fitness, and there is nothing wrong with that.


My time is scarce these days, and I prioritize other things than training. I ask myself every day, “You’ve got 10 minutes to exercise, what to do?” I deadlift a moderate weight for a few sets of five, and I lift a heavy kettlebell overhead for various reps and sets. That’s it. But is that what I really need to do? Probably not. I am reasonably stiff with metal rods in my back, my body composition is average, and I have no hair on my head. What would a seasoned coach have me do in 10 minutes? Oh what would I do with that blank canvas stumbling about on Highway 6 this morning.

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I have learned over many years that it really doesn’t matter how we get there. Whether you perform yoga, Pilates, CrossFit, bodybuilding, Zumba, dance, powerlifting, kettlebells, run, bike or swim. Good movement is good movement. The fundamentals are still fundamental and we must consider that accessing the right movements isn’t a cookie-cutter approach. A squat is still a squat. Instead, consider our biases and ask if there may be a more efficient, more optimal way to get better. Seek to fulfill the things you aren’t doing. We usually need to be doing the things we don’t like, or the exercises we aren’t good at. I’m fine with lifting heavy things, but don’t expect me to get into a yoga pose. I should be practicing that yoga class for stiff people after all. It’s fine that you can push the reformer back and forth, but can you actually perform a push-up from your toes? By the way, it doesn’t matter if you’re a female in your 50s.

Continue using the tools you have, but maybe it’s time to purchase a larger tool box. Don’t use a hammer, when you need a screwdriver. Go buy a screwdriver! If you’re only practicing barre classes to improve a weak upper body, consider weight training. If you’re stiff, heavy squats won’t fix it. And goodness, if the answer was more strength and size, powerlifters would be dominating the NFL. Remember the wise words of Mark Twain, ‘Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.’ Here’s to good movement and a great week!

Ryan Richards has a B.S. from Ohio University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the personal trainer at the Sonnenalp Golf Club and the owner of R2HP, an athlete consulting and personal training company. Richards’ passion comes from overcoming childhood obesity and a T1-L3 spinal fusion. Contact him at http://www.r2hp.com or 970-401-0720.

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