Online workouts are great, right? They are free, fun, and there are so many to choose from so you never get bored. Here’s the thing: not all online workouts are created equal! Because anyone can post on the internet there is SO MUCH information out there. Unfortunately, a lot of it is not necessarily safe depending on your fitness level and when it’s your health at stake you want to be careful.
So how do you know what to look for? Glad you asked!
Let’s review and evaluate a typical online workout that you can find. I found this one on Pinterest, where many circuit-type exercises are readily available.
I actually did this circuit, however I slightly modified it, doing each exercise for 45 seconds with a 15 second break. I also only did the circuit once instead of 3 times. (Let me tell ya, that was enough!)
Here’s my evaluation of this workout, with some suggestions on what to look for and how you can make adaptations.
1. This is an advanced circuit workout.
I am in excellent physical shape and this was HARD!
The main reason it was so challenging was the short break. For a person who is just starting to exercise a 10 second break between each exercise is not long enough. 15 seconds wasn’t even enough. I get that this is a “killer cardio” workout, but what usually happens is the form suffers because of speed. You want to make sure to always keep correct form when doing any exercise.
What to look for: Find workouts that specify if they are for beginner, intermediate or advanced. Also, look for workouts that provide a reasonable work-to-rest ratio.
Adaptations: You can always change the work-to-rest ratio to bring the workout to your level. For example, with this workout, I would recommend a beginner do 50-60 sec work, 30 sec rest. As well, although this workout doesn’t specify, I would put a 1-2 minute rest in between each round.
2. The circuit is incomplete and imbalanced.
There is no warmup or cool down indicated or at the least, recommended. These are an essential part of the workout and shouldn’t be forgotten. A person new to exercise might not think about the warmup or cool down since it’s not mentioned.
As well, all the exercises work the muscles on the front of the body; none of them work any posterior muscles, such as back or hamstrings. Further, there aren’t any exercises for the core (abs).
What to look for: Look for workouts that are complete and balanced. There should be an even proportion of exercises for front and back muscles along with some for the core. That said, doing a circuit with only front muscle exercises is fine, provided you do another one with back muscle exercises another day. Many people focus on front muscles only, but you want to create a balanced body.
Adaptations: If you notice an imbalance in the exercises, make some adjustments. For example, instead of tuck jumps, do deadlifts or swiss ball hamstring curls and replace one of the pushups with tricep dips. Be sure to always include a warmup and cool down.
3. The circuit was a little repetitive.
And with 2 sets of burpees and 3 pushups it got boring fast. As well, there weren’t any lower options for the more challenging exercises, such as tuck jumps.
What to look for: Look for workouts that offer a variety of exercises. Variety ensures that you work your muscles in different ways. It also helps keep it interesting and fun. As well, look for workouts that provide a low or high option.
Adaptations: Similar to the adaptation above, you can switch up the exercises so that there’s no repetition. Change 2 of the pushups for 2 core exercises, such as mountain climbers and bicycle crunches. For a difficult exercise like tuck jumps, they should show an option to do high knees.
To be fair, the person who created this workout states on their site: “All opinions are my own. I am not a doctor or personal trainer. Please take this into consideration before trying anything you may see in my posts.”
Before doing a workout you find online, take a few minutes and check out the person who created it. Are they a certified trainer? If not (and even if they are), review the exercise before starting, keeping in mind the points I share above. Also, if you are brand new to exercise, it’s good to check with your doctor before starting any program.
YOUR TURN: What’s been your experience with online workouts? Looking at the ones you’ve done, have they been balanced?
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