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Disclaimer: I am not a fitness professional and these are just some things I have learned from experts on Youtube. Everything written in this post should be used for informational use only and never substituted for professional advice.
When you have a physical disability working out can be a struggle because not all your muscles work the way they are supposed and there are limited exercises to work the muscle groups that do work. Fitness channels can be extremely beneficial if are disabled with helping you get results by showing you exercises that you would not have thought of yourself. It’s so easy to come across someone who only wants to make money and has no idea what they are talking about so you want to do your research to avoid getting injured. Next year will be ten years since I made the switch to Youtube and stopped going on long walks. I have learned so many interesting challenging exercises that look easy but are quite difficult and would not have thought of myself. My fitness has improved so much because of Youtube and I have learned so much I couldn’t possibly put it in one post so today I am going to talk about a few of the most important things I have learned in nearly tens of doing Youtube videos.
Form is more important than reps– Sometimes I get on social media and one of my followers is bragging about how many reps they can do of a certain exercise. I am not impressed when you brag that you can do one-thousand situps without stopping unless you can demonstrate to me that you can but usually most people that brag can’t and their form gets sloppy at sit-up number two-hundred. For many years I focused far to much on how many reps I was doing and didn’t care too much about my form. After a while I became so frustrated that I almost quit because I was spending so many hours in the gym and not seeing any change. That is when realized how many reps you do doesn’t matter because your form if far more important when it comes to reaching your goals. When you workout and focus on your form your body will be working harder and you will build more muscle so it’s better to do five squats correctly than five-hundred incorrectly.
It really is eighty percent nutrition- If you can’t workout don’t sweat it because you can reach your goals without exercising! There have been times when I couldn’t work out and had to buckle down no nutrition and I still reached by goals because you can’t out train a bad diet. Sometimes people will eat unhealthy and think that if they do a really hard work out they will burn off all those calories but if only you knew how many calories were in a donut you may realize how many hours you would need to spend in the gym to just burn off one! Working out can help burn off some excess calories but if you eat unhealthy you will never see those results because you can’t out train a bad diet no matter how much you think you can. Stop doing horrible workouts in the gym with this mindset and start focusing on your diet for real results! I used to be that person that thought if you worked out you could eat whatever you want because you just burned it all off when you worked out but then when I started focusing on my diet I realized nutrition plays such a huge role and you can’t just rely on exercise alone.
Lower back pain can be caused by weak abdominal muscles- Before I started Pilates I had excruciating and could not sit comfortably for even ten minutes without fidgeting that it was to the point I thought there was something wrong with my back and I need a back brace or surgery. Then I learned from Pilates instructor Cassey Ho that sometimes when you have weak abdominal muscles it causes back pain and that is when I knew I had to work my core so I started doing some pilates ab exercises to see if that would make any difference. It took over a year to repair the damage I had through but over time as I got stronger my back pain started to go away and now I hardly ever have back pain. Sometimes back pain is caused by a medical condition and all the exercise in the world will not help but could make it worse so if you are have recurring back pain that exercise is not helping it is always a good idea to check in with your doctor to make sure it’s nothing more serious. Now I mostly do Pilates to exercises because it works muscles you didn’t even know you had but mostly because I am scared to start walking again and cause more damage.
You can make fitness fun!– I have talked to a lot of people that can work out that don’t and there reason for not doing it usually is they are convinced that all forms of exercise are terrible and it’s not for them. I feel you I can’t motivate myself to do an exercise I hate either which is why I will never go on walks again because I would have literally drag myself to do it and I would much rather stick to core and strength training workouts because I enjoy that and it doesn’t feel like a workout. I am one of those weird people that can do hundreds of situps and be like that was fun while let’s do that again while everyone else is dying! Fitness is not a one size fits all approach and there are many ways you can stay active and it doesn’t have to consist of doing hundred of situps and doing brutal cardio because some people won’t do that! Your fitness routines doesn’t have to fit the standard and it can literally be you dancing in your room to your favorite tunes. Find an activity you can enjoy because if you can’t stick to it and only do it once a year you will not get the benefit of exercise!
You can workout when your sore- Sometimes when your sore people are like I have to take a rest day to allow my body to recover! I workout with sore muscles all the time and actually had muscles sorenes the other day but still worked out because it helps my body recover faster. Whenever I do an active recovery I usually can recover from muscle soreness in two to three days depending on how bad my soreness is but if I were to decide to take a full on rest day it can take up to week for my muscle soreness to go away. You should work out with caution when you have muscle soreness and not do the same workout with the same intensity because that can be dangerous. Working even the same body parts that are sore is okay but if weights got you sore I would try doing resistance training for a couple of days. It’s fine to train if you have a little muscle soreness but if you can barely move I would take a rest day because that is sign you did too much too soon and your body needs rest to repair and avoid injury. Toughing it out and ignoring this pain is not wise because you can risk overtraining and being down much longer than you would have listened to your body and taken a rest day.
Rest days are important– I used to be that person that thought if you did hardcore workouts seven days a week results would come faster but then wondered why I was always so tired and not smashing my fitness goals. I was not reaching goals not because I was lacking time in the gym but because I was not giving my body enough time to recover. When you workout you are literally breaking and tearing down your muscles so they can build up stronger and if you don’t take rest days your hard work will never show because you don’t build muscle during your workout but when your resting. You need to be taking at least one rest day a week and it doesn’t have to be a day where you sit on your couch and do nothing but maybe try doing some stretching, yoga or go on a nice walk to get some fresh air.
Don’t forget to stretch- I used to be horrible at stretching and would do a hardcore weight lifting routine and then not stretch because I hate stretching and didn’t see how it was so important. I was always reminded to stretch but for years I didn’t do it without realizing how much compromised my result because stretching improves your flexibility so you can do more reps. Since I started stretching regularly I can do more reps because I have more range of motion and have less chronic pain because stretching relieves tension that can cause pain. I don’t stretch before a workout because for me it feels like it restricts my muscles but I always stretch after every workout and it has made the biggest difference. Even if you don’t workout stretching can benefit most people because we spend so much time sitting at our computers and creating tension so five minutes of stretching can help relieve any unwanted tension.
It’s okay to modify– I have spent and hours looking for a fitness channel that is accessible for my disability but the things is it doesn’t exist and pretty much all fitness channels have some workout for people with physical disabilities but a vast majority are designed for abled people. If you are physically disabled don’t go looking for a fitness that is completely accessible for your disability because it might not exist and sometimes just have to settle fro the next best thing which modifying exercises your unable to do. I have learned so many new exercises through YouTube but unfornately not every exercise I come across I am physically able to do so in those instances I either change it a little bit so I can do it or do something completely different. Don’t be afraid to do beginners moves when your first starting out because I made that mistake and although advanced moves might burn more calories it does nothing for you if your doing them incorrectly.
Don’t forget to consume protein after your workout- You should never skip you post recovery shake whether you workout at 6 a.m. or 11 p.m. because you have were just breaking and tearing down your muscles and to repair them you need to fuel your body with a good source of protein. Skipping one workout without having a post recovery shake probably won’t kill you or have a much of a impact on your results just don’t make it a regular daily habit of it. For me I can never skip my recover shake whether I workout at 8. a.m. or 11 p.m. because I feel incredibly nauseous after my workouts which goes away after I consume protein.
Everyone has abs- Personally I don’t make fitness goals that are strictly for vanity because eventually that goal will be met then you will be like now what and unmotivated to continue your fitness journey. Personally I like to make goals that improve my strength because you can always get better and you will never feel like you have reached the end and can’t make any more improvements. Sometimes people do make goals strictly out of vanity and say that they want to get abs but here is the thing you already have them and they just are not always visible. Your abdominal muscules support your trunk and hold your organs in place and without them you wouldn’t be able to move very well because you would be very unstable. Getting visible abs is not rocket science and all it takes is a combination of compound movements, strength training, cardio, clean eating and you will reach your goals. It’s fine if you want more visible abs but don’t go around saying you want abs because you already have them and all you need to do for them to show is eat right and have a well balanced exercise routine.
You have to be consistent to get results– If you are working out and eating well the only way you will ever see results is if you are honest with yourself and consistent. You can’t do something for a month and expect this dramatic change and then stop for a while and expect to keep your gains. When my chronic pain was at it’s worst I worked out once maybe twice a week if I was having a good and sometimes I would go weeks and do nothing. What happened was years of building strength and improving myself started to go away because I started to slack off and wasn’t taking my fitness seriously. Working out once a week will not cut it to make gains and if you are serious about reaching your fitness goals you need to be pushing slightly past your comfort zone in the gym at least three times a week. You don’t have to do crazy long and brutal workouts to get results but you do have to be consisent and push yourself slightly past your comfort zone because if you are too comfortable it’s probably too easy and not challenging you.
You can still have a good workout without equipment- If there is one thing I learned from working out at home it’s that you don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment to get a good workout but actually you can have just as good have workout using just your body weight. Things like weights and resistance bands are good to have for making your workout harder but if you can’t afford them then you can do without them. Try doing bodyweight movements, doing more reps, or adding pulses to your shoulder presses for an extra challenge if you have little to work with. Fitness equipment can definitely add some challenge to your workout but it’s not completely necessary because you can do so much with just your own body weight and you just have to get creative with it!
When you are disabled finding and creating a fitness routine is more difficult when you have more physical challenges and half your muscles don’t work in the way they should. Fitness channels can make exercise easier by showing you different exercises that you wouldn’t have thought of yourself but they aren’t perfect and even if you have all the tools to help get you in shape there still will be challenges because it doesn’t erase your disability. There are some workouts that people with physical disabilties can do but fitness experts just don’t make workouts designed for disabled people although sometimes they think they do. If you are struggling with finding a fitness routine find something that has moves that you can mostly do and modify or change them when necessary. Fitness is hard when your disabled and it’s okay if you feel frustrated sometimes because I know I do but don’t give up just because it’s hard. Find a way to move your body and if it’s a little different than your abled friends that’s okay because there are so many ways to be active and it doesn’t have to be in the same way as your friends. Do you use a fitness channel to help you stay in shape? Which ones do you use? I use Blogilates if I am doing Pilates and Rebecca Louise Fitness when I want to lift weights since Pilates is primarly weightless workouts but if you know of any others I would love to hear them so please leave it in the comments below.