This is essentially the fitness version of the question “what diet is right for me?” It’s a question almost everyone has asked at least once or twice (unless you’ve never worked out a day in your life) and if you’re like most people, the answer has changed multiple times over the course of your life.
So what’s the answer? Not so fast…
If you think about it, this is actually quite a complex question as there are many variables. When we ask this question, we usually turn to one of a few sources… our friends/family or the internet/social media. And here’s where things start to get confusing. You see, one thing that we can absolutely count on about the internet is that whatever answer we are looking for, we WILL find it (whether or not it’s actually the RIGHT answer)!
Often, we look to someone who has has success in the area we hope to - diet, weight loss, fitness, career, etc - and ask what worked for them, and then we emulate it. We can work so hard, follow every step they told us they followed and yet still not find the same results they did. This leaves us feeling like failures, that something MUST be wrong with us… after all, it worked for them!
Let me give you an example of this…
Let’s say I’m a competitive weight lifter, and you come to me and ask me what the best exercise is for you to lose weight and look the way you want to look. I will most likely tell you that you need to go lift super heavy weight. Do lots of back squats, deadlifts, presses, bench press and lift as heavy as you can, as often as you can.
You take this advice (often against your own better judgement) and go to the gym lifting all the weights you can, as often as you can. You’re not entirely sure you’re doing it correctly, but this is definitely going to work! And then… you tweak something. You saw the person next to you load up a barbell and start repping out some deadlifts, so you followed along. Unfortunately, you weren’t conditioned for this much weight aren’t weren’t using proper form, so you strained your lower back. So much so, that you had to leave the weight on the bar and hobble out of the gym and it actually laid you up for almost a week.
Back to the drawing board.
Hopefully by now you are starting to catch on that there is no ONE PERFECT exercise that is right for everyone. You are an individual, with specific goals as well as specific levels of ability, knowledge and even time to devote. To randomly look online or ask a friend what worked for them does not take into account any of the above. And most importantly, you don’t even know if you LIKE it!
So… what IS the best exercise for you? Simple answer…
WHATEVER YOU ENJOY AND WILL DO CONSISTENTLY!
Regardless of what your specific goals are, you have to find something that you can really get into and enjoy doing… day after day after day. Because it’s that level of consistency that is going to start getting you results!
If you want to get strong and build lots of muscle… then yes, lifting heavy is a perfectly appropriate suggestion. However, if you’ve never lifted weights before, “heavy” is going to be relative and you will need to invest the time and money learning proper form and building strength little by little.
If you are looking to lose a significant amount of weight and someone tells you that HIIT workouts are the way to go… they may not be wrong. But again, if all you’ve done in the past are yoga or pilates, you won’t have the conditioning or stamina to get through even a short HIIT workout. You’ll have to build your way up to the level of intensity that will get you those results.
If you LOVE walking or hiking and commit to doing it daily, you will get far better results from doing what you love and can commit to, than you will trying to force yourself to hit those heavy weights or HIIT workouts 3-4 times a week.
Once you’re in the “groove” of being active, doing it consistently, feeling good about yourself and your efforts you will find it much easier to branch out and try something that is a little more goal specific. So my advice for the day is to focus on what you love and what will get you moving… that beats scrolling through social media for “THE” answer any day of the week!