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Too Much of a Good Thing?
January 21, 2015

What's Wrong With Extreme Fitness?

I first ran this newsletter almost two years ago to this date. I am running it again with a few minor updates for ONE simple reason: It's a great newsletter! LOL!

But seriously the true reason is because in the two years since I wrote the original newsletter, Extreme Fitness has grown in popularity, making articles like this one all the more important. My purpose here is not to slam CrossFit or any other extreme fitness regimen. Rather, it is to warn you of it's dangers in hopes of saving you from needless pain and injury. From Insanity to P90X to Crossfit to whatever flavor of the month is popular right now, they all have their pros and cons. And what is good for this goose may be completely inappropriate for that gander!

It never ceases to amaze me to see all the different ways fitness “experts” try to spin a new method of succeeding at weight loss or weight control. Fitness trends and fads are as rampant as obesity and failed weight loss plans. You ever wonder why that is?

Perhaps in today’s hurried and harried world of "extreme-is-better" mentality, something is being lost in the translation. Proper form and technique along with safe progression according to the level of fitness of the individual are oftentimes overlooked completely.

One of the biggest things I am seeing is the trend of mixing strength training and cardio in order to burn more calories, save time, and stave off boredom. This can be done in a variety of ways. Incorporating more compound moves into your workout is a great method. There is certainly nothing wrong with these ideas. In fact, it's not a new concept. It's like circuit training on steroids. The biggest problem I see here is this: Before people can implement a healthy strength training regimen they must learn proper form and technique of the exercises. In order to have a safe and effective strength training plan, you have to take the time to learn how to perform the proper exercises correctly. Form and technique should never be compromised even in a fast-paced workout.

Not to mention, we do not live in a “one workout fits all” society. What one person can do safely another one cannot, no matter how strict the form, due to a variety of possible physical limitations. For instance, if you have bad knees or back, I severely doubt you should be doing a plyometric (exercises that use explosive, fast-acting movements to develop muscular power and to improve overall speed generally used by athletes to improve sports performance) workout. Likewise, you may not be able to do squats or lunges. These exercises are typically difficult for people with problem knees, back, or hips. Many exercises need to be completely avoided or at the very least modified according to an individual’s issues. This is precisely why a consultation is so important before beginning to workout with a trainer. And it is why extreme home workouts without a trainer can sometimes be dangerous.

You cannot expect to jump into an extreme fitness type of workout and sloppily throw some weights around and jump up and down with high-intensity, high-risk plyometric exercises and expect great results. Worse yet, injury is sure to be lurking closely by.

You need to start out with a beginner’s perspective and progress slowly as you go along. Obviously, there is a plethora of ways to train these days. First of all, you need to assess your goals as well as any limitations you may have along with your current fitness level and choose your best-suited plan.

Your plan, no matter what your goals are, needs to include proper nutrition, safe and effective strength training, and regular cardiovascular exercise. This is the true trifecta that will deliver sustainable results and the ever elusive healthy body you so long for!

In summary and in my viewpoint, the biggest problem with super-intense home workouts is that there is nobody making sure you are using safe and proper form at home. Ignoring your old torn ACL or arthritic knees, back or whatever ails you will only come back to haunt you by possibly exacerbating already existing injuries or sustaining new ones. Plyometric workouts and those that require risky moves at home or anywhere else for that matter (CrossFit) should only be performed by bodies that can handle it, using very strict form and technique. Some workouts are just way beyond certain individuals’ fitness levels altogether. Let's face it, there is a reason chiropractors and orthopedic doctors are busier than ever with extreme workout-related injuries today.

Let me make it clear that I would never want to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm. Everyone should work out, and I applaud people who have the energy and wherewithal to purchase workout systems to perform at home. I just want to caution people to be sensible and very careful when deciding what workout is right for you. Read between the lines and make sure you will be able to safely perform the routine before peeling out the bucks. If you hurt yourself, the whole plan will be derailed. That’s as counterproductive as it can get.

Good luck and do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns about your fitness endeavors!!

This is the part of the newsletter where I feature an exercise and give explicit instructions on its proper execution.

This month's featured exercise shows a really cool way to do a pullup, even if you don't have a pullup assist machine at your gym. Simply adjust the height of the bar to adjust the degree of difficulty.

Smith Machine Pullups
Primary Muscle Group Worked:
Upper back or lats. Secondary muscle groups are pretty much the rest of your upper body and arms-when done right!

To see a video of this exercise click here.

Preparation: Set the bar on the Smith Machine at desired height. (The lower the bar, the greater the difficulty.) Take a wide, overhand grip keeping elbows in soft lock at bottom of move. Lie beneath the bar with the bar just above the chest. Keep body straight from head to toe with a soft lock (slightly bent) in knees throughout.

Execution: Exhale as you slowly bend arms and raise body towards the bar nearly touching chest to bar. Inhale as you slowly return to start position for desired number of reps.

TIPS: 1) Keep elbows flared throughout exercise. 2) Keep slight arch in lower back and keep upper back flat with shoulder blades retracted throughout. 3) Basically, keep your entire body in a straight line with a soft lock in the knees. 4) Do not jerk upper body up towards bar or allow butt to drop or lurch in either direction.

Control the speed, keep elbows flared, and body in straight line! Good luck!

Okay, peeps! You know I usually like to make you think, cry, or laugh with these vids, right? This month's video is a humorous take on a subject us ladies would rather ignore. I prefer to let it inspire me to keep working out. Still, we gotta keep our sense of humor, right? This comedian, Chonda Pierce, is hilarious and is the sister of an old college roommate of mine. I hope you enjoy it! Click here to view the video. :)

Be sure and check out my blog site! Just click here to head on over and give it a read! I will be posting a new blog in the next few weeks.

You can also purchase my books at most of the popular online bookstores in whatever format you may require. Please sign up for my mailing list and subscribe to my blog so that you can be informed when I post a new blog. I am a believer in less is more so don't worry about being inundated with posts telling you every time I had a snack or a new thought. On the other hand, I hope you find the wait between posts worthwhile as I plan to speak directly from my "writing" soul and I look greatly forward to it.

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Thanks so much for subscribing to this newsletter and for reading it and for your support. Our relationship is reciprocal as I live and learn from all that happens in my life, just as you live and learn through yours. We are truly in this together, and I empathize with your challenges as I do my own. I promise to hang in there and learn and grow along with you, and I hope that sharing through my writing maybe helps you a smidge. If it does, that is my payback. It is why I continue to do what I do.

If you enjoyed this newsletter, please feel free to pay it forward to anyone you think would like it too. That is the best compliment you could ever pay me, and I appreciate it very, very much.

And don't forget to tell everybody about and Now What? Fitness Blog where they can get all the fitness info their heart desires and sign up for this newsletter while they are there.

From my heart to your health,

Linda Burke, CPT

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