Written by Adam Whitlach
Personal Trainer, Western Reserve Racquet & Fitness Club
I hear the same question all the time: what’s the best exercise for x, y, or z? Whether the individual wants to tone up their under arm, slim their waistline, target their loose inner thigh, or tighten that spare tire, the process is extraordinarily simple. Make no mistake, I never said it’s easy. I find the biggest issue is with the question itself: what’s the best…? This revolves around the idea that any singular exercise will fix the problem. In reality, the wrong question is being asked. There is no exercise for tightening up any body part; that’s called losing body fat. There are examples of people that have made significant changes to their body composition while remaining the same weight. However, this was done over the course of years and was never the result of one exercise.
Looking for a singular exercise to solve fitness plateaus ultimately means the person in question is trying to find a magic bullet that can solve their issue. This is where merely showing up to the gym is not enough. Instead, learn to apply a solid training program. You should have a reason for being at the gym, and it’s not to sit on a handful of your favorite machines while playing with your phone. Coming to the gym without a plan is analogous to getting your high school diploma without passing 5th grade. And while 12th grade math should be much harder than 5th grade math, at the end of the day, it’s still math—yet, a progression is required. Training is no different. You’ll need to improve upon your workouts if you want to evolve.
Learning to train means adding stress for a specific reason. As your body improves, so, too, does the amount of stress you can handle. Exercising is a random occurrence, while training is precise act. Choosing random movements will only get you so far before progress comes to a halt. Now you’re stuck and still 20 lbs. away from your goal. This is not to say that some people can’t achieve satisfactory results with random, mediocre workouts. Some people can also achieve great conditioning using the ketogenic diet, but that doesn’t mean it works for everyone.
No matter which plan you decide to use, just remember that any plan is better than NO plan.