Your day job + fitness goals
Your day job might leave your gym ambitions completely hamstrung. This isn’t something many people think about.
You’re sitting at your desk, answering emails and taking phone calls. Maybe you stroll down the hall to refill your coffee.
You’re sitting at a lunch meeting, sitting in the car to get back to the office, sitting down to read this article after a long day of sitting.
But you spent your hour at the gym lifting heavy things and doing some HIIT, so you’re good…right?
Fitness as a sport
Okay, maybe the sitting scenarios sounded like a little much to you. But this is the reality for many people. And if it’s not your reality, your situation still follows patterns.
Jim Laird mentions all the hairdressers he trains and their shoulder issues from having their arms in the same place for 8 hours a day. Or baseball players and golfers who constantly swing in the same angle and direction. What about students? They never carry their bag on the same side of them all over campus each day… right?
Whatever the day job is, it’s got a pattern. Even moms have a “baby hip.”
The problem this new “sport” of fitness produces is that it’s not enough to prevent patterns from your day job. There are not enough hours in the day to move properly when work demands a desk.
So then the trick for exercisers then becomes learning what their own patterns are and how to train with or around them best.
Loading the patterns
All things considered, the human body is never symmetrical.
The examples listed above are nowhere near all-inclusive of the situations that cause movement to be uneven in more ways than one. So how do we train ourselves to keep the body in top physical condition during the times we do get to put some load on it?
Jim Laird explains his training philosophy in terms of finding his clients’ patterns first. He looks at what their day job is, how long they have done it, what sports they may be involved in.
Because you can safely bet that most athletes will have imbalances in their movement.
After getting to know how the client functions, Laird programs for where he thinks they fall short and where they excel in physical situations. If the imbalance is extreme, he works to help “spread the wealth” of strength to the weaker areas of the body to provide more support as needed.
This becomes a major priority for him when he sees people with weak cores and glutes. Major supporting muscles like the core and glutes are necessary for posture, spinal support, and bodies that promote longevity.
So for general well-being, Laird likes to strengthen the spots that are weak and train people in areas they’re not used to performing.
But sometimes things aren’t always so clear-cut.
Are physical imbalances bad?
You might be thinking that an immediate “yes” should be given to this question. But in the case of athletes, things get a little murky.
Off-season training always looks different than in-season training, as Laird explains in this video. When an athlete is off-season, it is a time to rebuild and improve strength. The goal is to bring them back for the next competitions better than ever.
Part of the training Laird uses for these situations is to get the athletes out of their typical movement patterns. This “general training” is perfect for sharpening up other movements. Which, by the way, are often put to the side when the athlete really needs to focus on performance in his sport.
The off-season training even tends to involve counter-patterns to what the athlete does in their sport. If they’re a right-handed batter in baseball, Laird gets them to swing left.
By balancing out one-sided movements, Laird has actually observed a stronger response on the athlete’s dominant side when they go back to performing it in their sport.
All things considered, imbalances aren’t necessarily “bad.” It just depends on what the fitness goals are. For professional athletes, imbalances come from the repetition involved with your sport and may help overall performance during the season.
After all… Usain Bolt has a stride imbalance. And he’s kind of a big deal.
For people with a day job, AKA not-necessarily-professional-athletes… imbalances aren’t as useful.
Assess & decide
Physical training is an extremely personal thing.
Looping back to the hairdresser example, consider how having the shoulders up all day every day can affect how those joints move. What’s more, one “dominant” hand is always held higher than the other as it does the cutting.
If a trainer puts more load on that joint that already constantly strained, the client could run into some problems.
Trainers must make sure they accurately assess their clients’ movements on an individual basis. This will determine the best course of action based on what they discover about the person.
There is no such thing as too much information. The more a trainer knows about each client’s day job, their daily routine, and their activity level outside of the gym, the better.
In this video blog, master trainer and Paleo f(x)™ speaker Jim Laird gives insight into how your day job and daily routine should affect your choices in the gym.