If you’re active in the online health and fitness community, you’ve probably seen at least one article or post with the words “the best exercise for…” in the title.
“The best exercise for weight loss”
“The best exercise for six-pack abs”
“The best exercise for buns of steel”
Many of the posts are based on the opinion of the author. (Everybody is entitled to an opinion; I have many!).Some cite scientific research to support their claims. (But beware of statistics; they can be misrepresented and misunderstood).
Very few ever state the underlying assumption: All Else Being Equal.
When I was studying to become a personal trainer, one of my instructors (a well-respected strength and conditioning coach) spent a great deal of time talking to us about the fallacy of the idea that any exercise was inherently good or bad. Sure, some are better than others, but even those that our text books tell us never to teach (behind the head lat pulldowns, for example), have their place in some training programs.
Rather there are exercises that are better (or worse), more (or less) relevant, safer (or riskier) and more (or less) appropriate depending on the exerciser and their unique goals.
The assumption “all else being equal” is rarely, if ever met, hence, there can be no universally-best-exercise for any particular goal.
If there were, I wouldn’t spend nearly the amount of time I do writing individualized exercise programs for my clients. I could create a single program and be done with it! Although many share the same weight loss and muscle development goals, they all have unique bodies, with unique skeletal structures, muscular imbalances, past and present injuries, hormonal profiles and motivation to exercise!
In exercise, as in nutrition, there is no ‘one size fits all’!
I’d love to create an individualized exercise program for YOU! Check out my online personal training program and let’s chat!
***This post was inspired by the recent New York Times “Is it better to walk or run”. Rather than wade into that minefield, I’m sharing my general opinions about the “what’s the best exercise for…” question here.