Yes, exercise is good for you. But are you doing the right exercise?

Contributed by Jesse Cai, founder of Square One Active Recovery and Pom Pi Pi Functional Training.


As a chiropractor, I work a lot with clients who have chronic pain. While most people would blame their sedentary lifestyle for their symptom experience, individuals living an active lifestyle can also experience chronic pain. It is true that exercise is good for you. However, not all exercises are created equal, and it is absolutely important that you have a fitness routine that generates positive ROI for your physical health. Today, I’d like to share why working with a personal trainer can be a meaningful investment for you.

1. An evidence-based personal trainer can help you save time

Everything you want to know about exercising and physical well-being can be found on Google. While this may sound like good news, it is extremely problematic. For every credible piece of information you find, you will come across tens or hundreds of anecdotes that would not apply to your case. You may not believe it, but it takes 17 years for research to reach clinical practice.

The truth of the matter is whatever you can find online is most likely a repetition of outdated information. For example, have you been told that lifting with a round back is bad for you? Well, there’s no research to support this. In fact, there are studies to demonstrate that it’s impossible to squat with a truly neutral spine.

Working with an evidence-based personal trainer will ensure that you get the best returns out of your workouts. This means getting quicker results than if you were to train alone. It also means safer training methods that are built on hard data rather than junk science. Millions of studies are published every year. Leave it to the experts to do their homework. As for you? Just show up and train.

2. Working with a trainer gives you the best shot at reaching your goals

Recently, we met with our client’s husband who is looking to lose weight. His strategy for weight loss is to run longer and run more. However, research tells us that exercise-induced expenditure only accounts for 15% of your total energy expenditure.

An evidence-based personal trainer will be able to help you develop a working strategy and programme for you to reach your very own goals. If weight loss is your goal, then you must make changes to your eating habits on top of exercising. This is to ensure that you have your best shot at losing weight.

Furthermore, running longer and running more is the perfect recipe for overtraining injuries. Not only will you lose very little weight, but you may also gain it all back during the recuperation period.

We are all experts in our own fields. I wouldn’t expect my homemade kway teow to have the tze char wok hei taste. Similarly, you can’t expect extraordinary results with your own DIY training.

Remember, training harder isn’t always better.

3. Your trainer can give you objective feedback

Sure, some trainers only count reps and give rah-rah encouragement to keep their clients pushing hard. However, an evidence-based personal trainer can do more than that. One of the methods we use is Kinvent biomechanical and Vitruve velocity-based training devices to assess our clients so they can receive the best training. Having objective measures means we don’t just rely on how you feel, and we can pick up minor issues before they become a problem.

The other issue with just eyeballing your training is that the margin of error is huge! A study last year investigated how accurate are visual assessments of spinal movement and found that it took 34° of posterior tilt (i.e., butt wink) before the human eye can detect it. This means what looks like a straight back to you isn’t always straight. This is why you need objective training data to bring your workouts to the next level!

Your personal trainer can also provide you with real-time feedback so you can train optimally. This means programming your training to be harder as you make progress in your fitness journey. Conversely, you can expect a reduction in workload when you are showing signs of overtraining.

Many people use a “listen-to-my-body” strategy when it comes to their training. Unfortunately, it does not work. Just because you feel okay doesn’t mean that your training is beneficial for you. It takes weeks or even months of overtraining before you first start to experience any symptoms.

Working with a trainer with a strong background in sports science will allow you to try effectively without all the guesswork. If you find yourself not getting to your fitness goals or getting injured regularly, you probably can do with some professional help.

Images: Envato and Square One Recovery (header)

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