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  • Mitchell Rothbardt

Things I’ve Learned During My 10 Years As A Trainer: Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my “Things I’ve Learned During My 10 Years As A Trainer” posts. If you missed Part 1, here is the link:

Let’s jump into Part 2.

4) Strength is King

I will put this very simply.

Strength is the most important thing you can work on in the gym. 

There isn’t a goal worth pursuing in the gym that shouldn’t involve getting stronger. Proper strength training helps:

  1. improve bone density

  2. helps you move better

  3. improve cardiovascular health

  4. improve flexibility

  5. get you stronger

  6. become more resistant to injury

Strength is what allows you to get up after you’ve fallen.

Strength is what keeps you from getting hurt when you do fall.

Strength is what helps prevent you from falling in the first place (even though we all will at some point. Gravity always works.)

Strength is what will give you the ability to play with your (grand)kids, pick up your groceries and move things around your house.

Strength is what allows you to continue to be independent as you age.

(Notice that I emphasized that last one.)

There isn’t a physical quality that can’t be helped through improved strength.

5) I Hate Gimmicks

I think I’ve always had a problem with gimmicks, but as I’ve trained more and more people and seen more and more things I’ve become more and more bothered by them. In truth they run the gamut from just silly to potentially damaging.

Lose 16 pounds in 21 days!

Try the Wolverine workout!

This supplement will change your life!

Cool Sculpting will freeze off the fat!

I actually saw this at CVS this morning AFTER I had written this line about Cool Sculpting.


It’s all a bunch of garbage.

Have you ever tried to help a kid with their homework? You know how they work so hard at trying to cut corners that they take longer to get things wrong then if they just did it right in the first place? Well, that’s what happens to people that fall for this stuff.

I know I may sound old-fashioned here but the things that matter with diet and exercise are the basics. It doesn’t have to be fancy and it probably shouldn’t be.

This is what matters:

  1. Consistency

  2. Hard work

  3. Sustainability

That’s it. Don’t believe anyone or anything that tells you that there’s a shortcut or a secret.

Remember what the great Dragon Warrior, Po the Panda said.

If you want to read more of the life-changing wisdom of “Kung Fu Panda” (I’M NOT KIDDING) go here:

6) No One Really Has A Bad Back

This one will might get some people upset. Let me explain by giving you a few facts.

  1. In a study of people with no back pain, it was shown through imaging tests (X-Rays, MRIs) that over 90% of the people in the test had bulging discs.

  2. There is much anecdotal evidence showing that in people who have back pain there is very little consistency between what imaging tests show and the pain that the people are experiencing.

So to sum up, everyone has bulging discs whether they have back pain or not, and there is almost no way to predict what kind of back pain someone will experience by looking at their discs anyway. Doesn’t this mean that it’s probably not the bulging discs that are causing the pain in the first place? After all, if someone sees a broken arm in an X-Ray they can fairly accurately predict where the pain is going to be, right?

Tell us where the pain is, Bobby.


OK. So if it’s the case that much of what people thought caused back pain doesn’t actually cause back pain…..

then what does?

Two things:

  1. Posture

  2. Movement patterns

I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me they can’t do an exercise because it hurts their back, only to have it feel fine after I give them a cue directing them to use their hips or engage their core differently.

The true function of our core/low back is stability. To put it simply, our core/low back has to stabilize in order to effectively allow our extremities (arms and legs) to do what they have to do. Our core fires up every single time we move our arms and legs even if we don’t feel it. You really understand that when you do pull something in your back and it stabs you every time you reach for a pen or a glass of water.

The true function of our hips is mobility. In other words, movement.

Put the two together and you get that the hips move and the core/low back stabilizes. Almost to a person, what I’ve seen in people that have low back issues is that their hips don’t move well which means that the low back has to take up the slack for that lack of movement.

That causes pain.

When you think of all the little movements you do every day, this really adds up and it’s all those movements put together that come into play when people blow their back up picking up a piece of paper. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Now, please keep in mind that I understand there are people who have different sorts of chronic conditions that are more complicated than this. I also understand that, for the most part, THESE CONDITIONS DO NOT APPLY TO THE VAST MAJORITY OF BACK PAIN SUFFERERS. I also understand that even for the people with those conditions, working on posture and movement patterns can and should be a very important part of the recovery process.

Obviously, having been a trainer for 10 years I have learned many things but these these six things stood out to me as pretty important. Again if you haven’t read my first post on this you can find it here:

If you have any questions or comments I’d love to hear them.

Have a great day and a great 2020!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, Egoscue PAS Castro Valley Fitness 2861 Grove Way 510-755-9191 mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com

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