The internet is a wealth of information. It’s a great place to find workouts and exercises, especially on places like Pinterest.
To the untrained eye, it may seem like you have a million different workouts all at your fingertips. For me, as a personal trainer, it is sometimes painful to look at images of bad form and unrealistic promises and know that people are eating this information up.
To help you find the most effective workouts and reach your goals faster, I put together some key things to avoid when finding workouts online. If you see any of these in your searches, run the other way. 🙂
Anything that advertises spot reduction
This is a huge one. I’m waiting for the day when people will stop falling under the spell of spot reduction because — surprise — it doesn’t exist! It sounds nice, but the less glamorous truth is that you can’t decide where your body will lose weight first. This is genetically predetermined and it might not be where you want.
I saw a workout advertising the only moves you need to eliminate a double chin and almost spit my drink on the screen. First of all, spot reduction. Secondly, a great way to lose fat under your chin is to lose weight in general. The “workout moves” were only several different types of neck stretches that had nothing to do with the chin.
Images that promise you can lose love handles by doing 515647 oblique crunches are deceitful and damaging. Skip past these and look for articles that train the whole body if you’re looking to lose weight or upper/lower body if you have specific strength goals.
Promises quick results in little time (5 min)
As a society, we want quick fixes to our problems. We want results without the effort. A workout that promises results after five minutes of work over a period of time is likely going to fail you.
It’s true that there are effective workouts that can be done around 30 minutes, but five is not going to have impactful results. Maintaining your health is a lifestyle and a lifetime of work, so five minutes isn’t going to cut it.
Adjectives like easy, effortless, lazy
Results take work, and likely more work than people realize. It’s great click bait to advertise an easy workout with a picture of a woman with 5% body fat, but an effective workout is one that challenges your body and different muscle groups. You should be slightly uncomfortable during at least parts of a workout, otherwise you’re not working hard enough. Grab some weights and make sure to increase them over time to challenge your muscles. Your heart rate should be elevated and you should feel like you’ve just done a workout when you’re finished. That’s not to say that you should be exhausted and dripping in sweat, but if you complete your “easy, effortless” workout and don’t feel even one of those things, chances are you won’t get the results you’re looking for.
I could have included this under spot reductions, but there’s SO MANY workouts dedicated to “flat abs” or “flat belly” exercises that it felt better to give it its own category. There’s a reason why people say that “abs are made in the kitchen” — because they are.
No matter how many crunches, planks, Russian twists, etc. you do, if you’re not eating well, you’ll never be able to see them. Many fitness models that you see with visibly defined abdominal muscles are on an extremely strict diet and often dehydrated for those images in order to make each muscle “pop.” If show-stopping abs are your goal, shift your focus to your eating rather than so many exercises.
It’s also important to note that your core is used in virtually every exercise move that you do. Heavy squats enlist the core muscles to brace as you perform the movement. Overhead work also requires that you tighten your core for balance as the weight goes above your head. The list goes on. If you suffer from a substantially weak core that inhibits you from correctly being able to do other movements, then it’s a good idea for you to do some concentrated core exercises, but for the most part it’s not necessary to spend an entire workout on those moves.
Since it is so easy to create a workout and post it on Pinterest, anyone and everyone can do so with little effect. This means that people who like to work out, but aren’t credentialed as fitness professionals, put together a workout, slap some nice graphics and fonts on there, and share it with the world. To the everyday person looking for a workout to do, these look no different than those designed by someone with education and reasoning behind them. It’s frustrating (which is why I wrote this post), and I’ve seen countless images of improper form displayed under “the best workout to blast fat!”
Simply do your research. See if the writer possesses any certifications. What website is publishing the workout? Chances are that following a workout by someone not approved to design them is not going to kill you, but it also may not take you closer to where you want to go.