WHY SHOULD YOU CONSIDER SPECIALIZATION?
It is quite easy to recommend a beginning workout program for someone who seeks general fitness and body sculpting, after we determine that person’s goals.
5 or 6 basic movements may be recommended, along with some cardio. Resistance levels, sets and reps can be established. As progress is made, these can be changed so that further growth may be encouraged.
Specific workout measures may be important in the beginning stages or to enhance workouts later on. Here are some examples of specialization needs initially:
- Maybe our beginning needs are only to strengthen or rehabilitate a specific body part.
- We may only be interested in preparing for a specific sport
I am not a workout beginner, but I am currently trying to rehab my rotator cuff at my right side. My practice is to begin with12 remedial stretches to improve my range of motion. Then I do 4 core sets and 2 calf muscle sets. On alternate days, I do the same but add sets for my back and triceps, which are pulling movements only. I will not do pushing or pressing movements until my shoulder is healed and I have allowed 30 days after the healing. Shoulders are sensitive.
Let’s assume that you are seeking a program to improve your tennis game. When I played tennis, the obvious answer was to play and practice tennis as much as possible, to tape my ankles and to work on problem areas. This preparation still seems reasonable, but there are additional ways and means to improve tennis fitness. Here are a few:
- Hold a medicine ball with both hands, then throw it as hard as you can against a wall, as you twist your body
- Do chin – ups to strengthen back and shoulders
- Do weighted squats
- Do bench presses or push – ups
- Do lots of rope jumping
I noticed that many of these same movements were also appropriate for conditioning for baseball, especially the medicine ball throws. For golf, it was important to place exercise bands around your lower legs and to walk ahead and sideways – among many other movements. Leg lunges were cited as important for all sports conditioning.
It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway. Sports conditioning should not be seen as a replacement for practicing that sport, only an additive.
ADDING SPECIALIZATION TO GENERAL WORKOUTS
Our genetic makeup is such that we may not develop our body in a symmetrical way. Even with evenly structured workout programs, we may find that some body parts are improving while others are lagging. Consider this scenario:
- We are working out 3 days per week
- Our program is to do: 2 back sets, 2 chest sets, 2 shoulder sets, 2 triceps sets, 2 biceps sets, 2 abdominal sets, 2 upper leg sets and 2 calf sets. We do cardio on alternate days. We control calories and eat healthy food.
- After a few months, our upper torso is becoming larger and more muscular, but our legs are not growing. We seem lopsided.
In this case, I would make these recommendations:
- Cut back to one set for back, chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps and abdominals.
- Begin doing 4 upper legs sets and 4 calf sets.
- Do all leg sets at the beginning of the workout, when you are stronger and more energetic
Another option would be to do upper body sets one day, legs the next – and cardio both days.
Bear in mind: it is not unusual to develop one’s body disproportionately. It would be more unusual to never need to tweak a workout program to accommodate uneven progress.
It is also not unusual to always have an uneven physique or figure. Just look around at the gym, swimming pool, or beach. But we can at least try to structure our workouts in order to get the best from our genetic predispositions. It takes hard work and persistence, but bodies can be significantly changed and improved.
SOME RELEVANT EQUIPMENT RESOURCES
Based on the foregoing paragraphs, here are a few suggestions for necessary equipment:
- Medicine ball
- Jump rope
- Wilson Roger Federer tennis racquet
- Resistance bands for legs
- Light dumbbells
- Adjustable dumbbells
- Doorway chin – up bar
- Workout belt
- Bullworker products, for isometric (and isotonic) strength building
In a discussion of workout specialization, it seems prudent to also add that specific spot reduction can not be achieved by any exercise movement, unless we include a program of cardio exercise and calorie reduction as well. See my previous post on THE MYTH OF SPOT REDUCTION.
It would also follow that a specialized movement to increase the size or definition of a body part would not occur in isolation from the rest of our body. But it is not likely that such would be desired anyway.
- Establish a goal – why do you want to work out?
- Begin with basic exercises to that end
- Tweak your program as you see the need
- Be aware of genetic limitations
- But proceed diligently and look for significant physical improvements
Please leave any comments or questions in the “Comments” box below. Also, I would be thankful for any suggestions for other workout topics that you may have. Audience participation is great to have and this engagement keeps me better informed. Also, email me – firstname.lastname@example.org.