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Changing Priorities

Changing Priorities

Changing Priorities

There are five components to any well-designed fitness program.  Cardiorespiratory capacity, strength training, injury prevention, mobility enhancement, and muscle endurance.

Most fitness participants prioritize the five components in this manner:

  1. Cardiorespiratory Capacity
  2. Muscle Endurance
  3. Mobility Enhancement
  4. Strength Training
  5. Injury Prevention

A typical training session consists of 30 minutes of cardio, multiple sets of high repetition muscle isolation exercises finished off with a series of stretches.  The top three components are involved in every workout.  Strength training and injury prevention are generally ignored.  This is the reason most people fail to achieve fitness results and often end up injured.

Most fitness participants would be better served if they completely reversed that prioritization:

  1. Injury Prevention
  2. Strength Training
  3. Mobility Enhancement
  4. Muscle Endurance
  5. Cardiorespiratory Capacity

For the novice, deconditioned, or older fitness client, the most important of these five components is injury prevention.  Your training program should make you more durable and less likely to break down.  Injuries that occur as the result of poor training choices are a tragedy that surgery and therapy are often unable to fully restore.  Nothing will derail your attempts at becoming healthier and more fit than an activity induced trip to the orthopedic surgeon’s office.

After injury prevention, strength training should be the cornerstone of your fitness program.  Dr. Rosenberg and Dr. Evans coauthored the book Biomarkers in 1991.  They studied thousands of peoples’ health and vitality as they moved through life from ages thirty to eighty.  They identified ten important attributes or “biomarkers” for healthy and independent aging.  They were most interested in the qualities that produced active lives and maintained independence–no institutional care.  Maintenance of strength was the crucial biomarker.  All of the other biomarkers were impacted by the loss of strength.  The individuals that stayed strong remained healthy and had far fewer incidences of disability.

The best results come from a focus on injury prevention and strength.  You will stay in the gym and out of the doctor’s office.  Injury prevention requires an assessment.  The Functional Movement Screen is a good place to start.  See Jeff Tirrell at Fenton Fitness for an evaluation and have a talk about changing priorities.

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

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