Are you one of the many individuals who turn to YouTube and Instagram for workout inspiration? While these platforms offer a plethora of exercise ideas and tutorials, DIY-ing your workouts may not lead to the desired results. In this journal entry, I've asked Dr. Tim DiFrancesco, PT, DPT - President & Founder of TD Athletes Edge, to delve into the issue and provide his expert insights.
Dr. DiFrancesco has put together nine reasons why relying solely on online content may not end well. From the lack of assessment and imprecise exercise selection to the risk of injury and plateauing, Tim explores the pitfalls of DIY workouts. Whether you're already experiencing setbacks or aiming to maximize your training, understanding these key factors is essential. So, let's hand over to Tim and uncover the truth behind the allure of self-guided fitness and how you can navigate it successfully.
YouTube and Instagram have made it very easy to DIY your workouts. Here are nine reasons why this doesn’t end well:
1. No Assessment: When you DIY your workout, you typically don’t perform an assessment. This results in doing more of what you like rather than what you need.
2. Every Great Exercise isn’t Great for Every Person: There are numerous cool-looking exercises out there, but that doesn’t mean you should try all of them based on your goals, injuries, or anatomy. Imprecise selection can cause more harm than good.
Photo: whilst exercises performed by high level athletes and professional health and fitness professionals may look easy online, it's important to get professional assistance when putting together your own program
3. Method to the Madness: When you DIY your workout, you often randomly or unknowingly select exercises that have significant overlap and redundancy. No wonder your back hurts if you're doing nine core exercises and only one hip exercise.
4. Train in One Plane: Creating your own workouts typically ignores lateral or transverse movements. You end up doing all of your workouts in one direction, often straight ahead, and neglect other movements. This leaves gaps in your training and deficiencies in your movement capabilities.
5. The Muscle Confusion Trap: If you like to mix it up and change your workout daily or weekly, you're reducing your likelihood of progress. It can take up to 4-8 weeks of performing the same exercises to trigger adaptation in muscle or tendon tissue. Repeated exposures to the same exercises are important for getting stronger.
6. The Plateau Problem: If you stick with the same exercises, sets, reps, and weight prescription for months or even years, you'll get stuck in a plateau. It’s important to vary your exercises, variations, and dosages every 4-8 weeks to keep challenging your body. This is why it’s called progressive overload.
7. Pairing is Important: When you have no rhyme or reason to which exercises you pair together, you run the risk of one exercise ruining the other. Think about how much your rows will suffer if you pair them with a heavy DB lunge. Eventually, your grip will exhaust, and your row will suffer.
8. Fast Forward to Injury: When you see cool-looking exercises on YouTube and Instagram, you may not have done the work to be ready for them. It’s important to go through all progressions that lead up to an advanced variation before attempting it. Fast-forwarding the process often leads to injury.
Photo: an exercise such as a Nordic Curl can be extremely beneficial, or lead to an injury if you're not ready for it
9. The Dose Makes the Poison: Understanding how many sets and reps to do and how often is more important than people think. You can easily overshoot or undershoot what your body needs. This can result in a lack of results or overtraining and injury. Keep reading for my recap 👇🏻
All the power to you in your DIY workout efforts. Many people can get away with ignoring these keys to effective training in their 20s. However, at some point, most people realize that something isn't working. Sometimes it's an injury, and other times it's a lack of results that indicates something isn't working.
If you choose to DIY your workouts, you'll be way ahead of the game by keeping these nine keys to good training in mind. Alternatively, I recommend having a coach or co-pilot handle all the complicated work for you. Even coaches hire coaches for this reason. We all need a co-pilot to help us get the most out of our exercise and strength journey, given the effort and sweat we're putting into it.
About Dr. Tim DiFrancesco
Dr. DiFrancesco graduated from Endicott College in 2003 with his B.S. in Exercise Science & Athletic Training. He went on to the University of Massachusetts Lowell where he earned his Doctorate of Physical Therapy in 2006. Upon graduation, Tim spent 3 years working as a physical therapist in the outpatient sports medicine clinic setting.
From 2009-2011, Tim held the position of Head Athletic Trainer and Strength & Conditioning Coach with the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA-Developmental League. In December of 2011, he was named the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA. While traveling with the Lakers for over 6 seasons from 2011-2017, Tim built TD Athletes Edge. It all started as a series of online channels for top fitness and health guidance. After leaving the Lakers in 2017, he dedicated his full-time efforts to building TD Athletes Edge with his team. TD Athletes Edge is nationally renowned for its evidence-based and scientific approach to training, nutrition, and recovery for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
Photo: Dr. Tim DiFrancesco