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Paige Waehner

Challenge of the Week: Assess Your Workouts

By January 29, 2013

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One day, I was asking a client about her workouts, pleased when she said yes, she'd done all her workouts for the week. As we were going through the workout, however, I realized something: She was skipping some of the exercises and had been skipping them for quite awhile. When I asked her about each exercise, she said the same thing: "Oh, I really like that one. It really works." I asked, "Well, why aren't you doing it?" A thoughtful look came over her face that made me realize she didn't know. More to the point, she'd never thought to mention it before.

She was surprised, perhaps even pleased, to learn that she could (and should) be an active participant in deciding what exercises to do. She didn't have to do exercises that hurt her knee, or exercises she only 'liked' because I went on about how great they were - and you probably know the exercises I consider 'great' are the ones that hurt the most...pushups, squats, lunges, etc.

Her story made me think about how we all do that sometimes, do things we think we should - or, as in her case, keep skipping the things we think we should do and then feeling guilty about it. This is a good reminder to take a look at your own workouts and figure out if there are exercises or activities that just aren't working.

Your challenge this week? Assess our workouts. I have a handy-dandy article, brilliantly titled How to Assess Your Workouts and these are some of the questions you can ask yourself to determine that:

  • Do I like what I'm doing? Loving exercise may be a little farfetched, but you should at least do something you don't hate. If you're on a treadmill or the bike and hating every minute of it, you'll have one more reason to quit exercising.
  • Is my program balanced? Doing all cardio and no strength training or all high intensity exercise and no recovery workouts can lead to boredom, burnout and plateaus.
  • Am I getting results? Weight loss is what many of us are after, but weight loss is a slow and imperfect process. The scale will regularly lie to you, so think of other results you might be getting: Are you getting stronger? Have you increased your endurance? Are you progressing in your exercises? Are you feeling better about yourself and your commitment to exercise?

These are just a few questions and you should check out the full article for more.

And now it's your turn. Do you regularly assess your workouts? How long have you been doing your current routine and is it working for you? How do you assess your workouts? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

June 26, 2009 at 9:02 am
(1) Ron says:

Once a month i evaluate my routine such as increasing weight on various weight machines.Also as a warm up I use the concept2 rowing mach and will do sprints or increase the distance which adds up to more time and more burned calories.Basic program is 40 min rowing,45min resistance work and 20 min back on the rowing mach.works for me.

June 26, 2009 at 11:10 am
(2) ray says:

i guess it really depends on what you are looking to get out of your fitness program. weight loss? 5k race? ms. bodybuilding usa?

June 26, 2009 at 3:46 pm
(3) Ted says:

I keep a workout log. My goals shift around because I work out six days a week. Yeah, yeah I know but I don’t care. It just suites me and I am fine in terms of health and motivation. Today was easy 40 min precor with 1 min sprints every 10 mins. Then 20 min on the stairmaster (38 flights) and then 75 push ups. 1h 20m
total, cal burn 1000 – as tracked by my polar hrm.

June 26, 2009 at 4:05 pm
(4) Jason D says:

When I’m lifting, I like to feel at least a little bit sore in that body part within the next day or two. No sore means I’m probably not progressing.

When I run I watch my time. If it goes up, then I’m not progressing.

True, it’s not all about always needing to progress. But during those times, I’m not assessing anything anyway!

June 26, 2009 at 4:24 pm
(5) RickiRae says:

I have to mix up my workout to keep things interesting. I like to try new activities to keep me from getting bored. Most recently, I tried tennis. I’m not exactly a pro tennis player, but it sure was a great workout!

June 27, 2009 at 1:47 am
(6) Fitness fan says:

This is also a response to the question, “Do you lift enough weight during strength training?”.

The bottom line is, what works for me is what counts. I’m doing light weights at high reps, 2 – 10 lbs, 75 reps total. I do a range of weights for each particular exercise, the range depending on the exercise. I also do stomach crunches with hand weights, and push-ups.

The result is that I’ve trimmed the fat off the upper torso over the last 3 ˝ yrs. My torso now tapers down from the shoulders to the waist instead of the opposite; even the “love handles” are gone. My upper body now matches my lower body as far as very little fat and a trim physique. My personal physician last year said I’ve added a lot of muscle – this is someone whom I see two or three times a year and deals with a lot of patients, amazing me that she remembers me from prior visits.

I don’t fret over not doing the accepted or politically correct workout. I believe it’s good to periodically reevaluate the routine, amp up the weights and intensity or even taper off, especially since I’m a senior (> 60 yrs old). I no longer do the bouncing exercises to avoid injury to my joints and weak right arch. My routine has evolved over the last 4 ˝ yrs, and I have achieved a high level of intensity in the workout and a balance with my diet that allows me to maintain a weight level that both my physician and I are comfortable with – slightly high BMI, but fine considering the muscle mass and little fat.

To answer the questions, “Do I like what I’m doing?”, “Is my program balanced?”, and “Am I getting results” is, yes, I firmly believe so.

I’ve said this before in so many words, Paige’s blog has been a valuable resource of information and a reading of what people believe and do. I rank Paige up there with Oprah Winfrey as far as performing a public service not based on profit, but a genuine personal commitment to positive causes and the common good.

June 28, 2009 at 12:13 pm
(7) Brad says:

First, it is important for one to remember never to abbreviate “assessment”. Having said that, I assess my workouts on a weekly basis and look what I can improve, weight and repetition adjustments, and then which exercises I’d like to swap in and out of rotation to help keep a muscle confusion condition going.

June 28, 2009 at 7:59 pm
(8) Roger says:

I will lift for 3-4 months at a good level and then plateau, get bored and may quite for a month or so. I work out alone and do enjoy it but do get bored after awhile. If I am increasing the levels I am lifting or reps this keeps me motivated. This has been going on for several years. I am 48 and will go from one body part per day (5 exercises per body part) to one exercise per body part per day doing an overall body workout. Usually ecliptic for cardio 20-30 total workout 1 hour +.I will usually exercise 4-5 days a week.

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