Today’s marketing gurus are all about the ‘B2Me’ approach: the idea that every consumer is after a personalized experience. Look closely, and you’ll see this being applied in every campaign and medium through which businesses can reach you.
Here’s the thing about personalization: it actually takes a lot of effort.
That’s great if a brand goes the extra mile to tailor its offerings to your interests and pain points. But most of us are really selective about which things we personalize.
For a geek, that could mean obsessing over the specs of their high-end gaming PC build. For a homeowner, it might mean buying from the fine furniture store instead of IKEA.
In most other aspects of our lifestyle, we’re actually fine with the cookie-cutter option.
When it comes to your fitness routine, however, generic shouldn’t be something you consider.
Health experts agree that everyone needs exercise. But the underlying mechanics are different for each individual. Our bodies are all unique, and that’s a matter of heredity.
Not only are there different kinds of exercise and endless possibilities in terms of program combinations, but we all can also respond differently to such varied training stimuli.
Thus, scientists are making the case that everyone should personalize the way they exercise. But researchers still need time to understand how genes influence the different aspects of health and exercise response. It’s a complicated situation, and the studies are still in the early stages.
Beware the risks
Thus, personalizing your workout has the potential to give you a more enjoyable and rewarding experience. In turn, this has a significant influence on your ability to sustain the commitment to fitness in the long run.
But there’s a fine line between effective personalization and counter-productive exercise. If you get it wrong, you might end up not pushing yourself hard enough. Or doing the same thing all the time, which leads to diminishing returns.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you might be too ambitious and ratchet up the challenge level way beyond your abilities. This sometimes risks injury and always creates frustration.
Beware of these pitfalls. Go slow, and listen to your body. When in doubt, consult a physical therapist or fitness trainer.
Keep a workout journal, and as you try different types of exercise, take note of how it felt. Was it too easy, or did anything feel painful? What sort of pain sensations did you experience, and did they persist afterward or get triggered by similar efforts?
With these steps, you’ll be more aware of what’s actually going on with your body. In the absence of detailed research, this will be an effective guide to personalizing your fitness journey.
Know what to manipulate
When taking the DIY approach to your workouts, remember that it’s not always about trying different kinds of exercise. You can also manipulate specific variables to make an exercise easier or more challenging.
One such variable is training volume. This is usually expressed in terms of the number of reps and sets or the weight lifted. When you follow someone else’s workout plan and don’t adjust volume according to your level, you might not gain anything for your effort. Or you could wind up hurting yourself.
Intensity is another variable you can work with. This represents your single-load maximum, and it can be different for everyone based on other factors such as age or training background. The average bench press strength, for instance, can be 100% of body weight in your 20s but declines by about 10% with each decade.
If you push yourself to maximum intensity, you can only do a few reps. You need to know when you’ve reached failure: the point at which you can no longer execute the exercise with perfect form. Attempting further reps beyond that risks injury and uneven muscle development.
Workout frequency can also be something you experiment with. If your schedule allows it, you can distribute your sessions and hit different parts of your body each day. Or you might find out that you still benefit from training just once a week.
Finally, you can try to customize exercises through levers. Mechanically, your body can exert force with varying efficiency depending on leverage. With poor leverage, your muscles work harder. Better leverage can make a difficult exercise easier.
Thus, if you’ve never been able to do a push-up, try doing one at a 45-degree angle instead of flat on the floor. Or if regular push-ups are too easy, try one with your legs propped up on a stool or table.
Changing these variables will give you limitless possibilities, even without venturing far from the exercises you’re familiar with. You can continue to find the appropriate, personalized level of difficulty as your skill progresses.