Preface: I’m sure there are some good trainers putting out quality information on Instagram. There are some on YouTube for that matter as well.
The odds of randomly landing on a good one (as in good for you) is astronomically low.
A long distance friend of mine sought my opinion regarding an exercise program she found on Instagram.
A little background on her: 32yo F, healthy weight and waistline measurement. Her goal is to lose a little more weight. She has a lengthy injury history involving both knees (different injuries) and her lower back. She has a modest training history, no athletic background and a fulltime deskbound profession.
Her injury history is particularly key.
The program being I was tasked to investigate called for the following 6 days per week
10 min Cardio warm up
Air Squats. x100
Box Hops. x100
1 Leg Squats. 50 R/50 L
30 min Cardio cool down
My readers digest review: None of this looks like good choices for someone with a history of low back and knee injuries. More isn’t necessarily better.
On the severe end of things exertional rhabdomyolysis cannot be ruled out as a risk factor when considering the individuals training history vs the demands of the session.
We have no idea if the Instagram trainer has done this routine herself, if she made it up on the spot (because it looks tough?) or copied it from somewhere else.
We don’t know if the Instagram trainer is using her real photo, has blessed genetics or convincing Photoshop skills. She could be more CGI than human.
We have no idea what this workout is supposed to do for someone. Fat loss? Muscle-building? Cardio Conditioning? Strength? All I know is that it was called “Legz and A$$”
We don’t know if the 6 days are consecutive or split up. Recovery is key, and quite frankly this routine could prove very challenging to recover from.
There were no instructions or even basic tips on how the exercises should be performed,regressed, alternated or who should NOT be doing these exercises (for example someone with poor knees and injured lower back.)
The 10min Cardio Warm Up and 30min Cool Down gave no indicators as to what to do. Warm Ups and Cool Downs serve purposes, the former to prepare the body for the training and the latter being the first step in the recovery process. Heart rate monitors can be handy in these cases.
Assuming one did the workout exactly as written it would amount to 400 mostly lower body exercises.
Air Squats are a fundamental exercise and not without challenges or technical requirements. The number of people that cannot squat very well during movement screens is particularly high even for those without histories of lower body injury.
100 repetitions of anything might be too much for a beginner. The management of the exercises tolerable depth and biomechanics is key, even with unloaded squats.
I’m not sure if these were Box hops (fast hop up and hop down) or Box Jumps (fast jump up and step down). Box Hops/Jumps are both plyometric exercises. This typically requires the development of (a) Strength and Speed (which creates Power) and (b) Instruction on the landing mechanics.
Putting this into context, Westside Barbell suggests 24-40 jumps done 2-3 times per week for athletes needing to improve their general fitness and explosive strength.
Translation: These are for people that are already strong and have developed athletic skills, a person with a body that can tolerate the training demands and benefit from it.
No advice was given regarding a suitable box height, or the numerous warning orders assigned to Plyometric exercises.
SIDENOTE: Female athletes present a few differences in training from Males, increased risk of ACL injury during menstruation being one of them. That also was never mentioned.
Plyometrics do have a role in ACL injury prevention program, but typically not in the beginning.
One Leg Squats (Pistol Squats) are awesome unilateral exercises. They’re also devilishly difficult. Remember when I said the air squat was difficult for a lot of people? Subtracting a leg doesn’t make things easier.
Pistol squats require a person to have very good strength,joint mobility, stability and flexibility to perform.
Even with the foundation to perform a solid pistol squat, you’d likely be massively fatigued after performing the previous volume of Air Squats and the nervous system hit of the Box Hops. Minimally your strength would have been sapped to the point where the exercise becomes even riskier to execute.
While not the fairest example, note the difficulties elite CrossFit games competitors (the top % of all CF athletes on the planet) have performing Pistol squats under fatigued conditions.
Burpees are a full-body exercise,however doing 100 of them in a single session is murderous. CrossFits “Ryan” WOD is considered brutal even by CF standards. It features 105 Burpees with a jump to a specified height following each repetition.
Unlike the Instagram workout, it is the only demanding lower body movement in the routine. Furthermore,you don’t do six Ryan’s in a week.
Burpees were originally prescribed in the military as an efficient full body exercise that don’t take up much space. 20-25 were typically the maximum given in the worst of situations. The inventor of the Burpee wasn’t a fan of using it for high volume work.
Remember, these are healthy young men and women that built up to this level over a period of weeks.
SIDENOTE: My interpretation of the “Humane Burpee” bears a slight resemblance to original. In my case the reps typically stop at 10 and attention to the movements form is emphasized and I’m perfectly cool with a person performing them slowly.
To say that I’m not a fan of the Instafool trainers workout would be an understatement, and I’m not alone in my opinion. Here are an six additional opinions from veteran coaches around the world…
Robert Pingatore, Strength Matters Kettlebell Instructor and NSCA Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator. Foothill Ranch,CA
1. What is a “cardio warmup?” If we’re box hopping, burpeeing, and single leg squatting, and the client thinks, “Okay, I’ll get on the elliptical for ten minutes,” there’s ten completely wasted minutes that have skipped the prime movers in those movements and they certainly won’t be prepped for the stuff to come.
2. What exactly s the goal of this session? It’s obviously the “trainer’s” and not the client’s. These movements would make sense in a structured session that included them, but as the sizzle, not the steak, in just about any program I could nightmare up.
3. Has this moron “trainer” even HEARD of the endocrine system? Aside from a brief mention in high school biology, I mean.
3.a. Has this “trainer” even HEARD of energetics, or considered the art and science of energy system manipulation?
3.b Has this moron “trainer” even HEARD of nervous system activation, engagement, and over-stimulation?
4. Why a 30 minute cool down?
Mind, I haven’t gone into active rest & non-session recovery, nutrition, lifestyle, allostatic load, or any of the other umpteen elements we take into account when designing a program.
All in all, this whole thing reeks of rank amateurism and is proof positive that the more the professionals learn, and the better we become at our craft, the more strikingly obvious it is that we need to do a better job as an industry of putting quality content out in the world.
And it makes those IG trainers look all the worse.
Sheri Kaminski StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, Las Vegas,NV
That is crap. Please quote me! Your friend with back and ankle problems will most likely get hurt trying to do Burpees (that were invented as a screen NOT as an exercise by Mr. Burpee in the first place…) She probably can not squat safely, and what is a “cardio warm up”?? GAH!
A few more…
“The exercises provided are either not full-body, are high-risk/low-reward, or do not allow to accomplish as much work as other simpler exercises. Additionally, the exercises are not arranged intelligently, do not progress, do not allow for adequate recovery, are not safe for the average beginner and there is no mention of nutrition.” Omaha,Nebraska
“Remember the goal is that workouts are sustainable, repeatble, can be incrementally and safely progressed. Smashing a client in one workout is throwing a hail mary on the first quarter and hoping to win the game” Manila,Philippines
“This workout is clearly for someone who has already developed a good deal of strength and endurance, not a beginner. Also, this “program” is pretty much all lower body movements. What about training the rest of the body?
It looks like they found someone’s description of a workout they did posted online and thought it was a “program”. Who trains at that level of intensity six days a week just to get in shape? #wastedeffort
It might be a fun challenge for the sufficiently masochistic, especially if they’re being timed, but otherwise it’s rubbish.” Eagen,Minnesota
“This so called “trainer” needs to find a new career.” Tramore,Ireland
Choose your fitness professionals wisely.