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    Treadmills are for hamsters

    February 28th, 2012

    Dear Strength Coach or Personal Trainer,

    The other day I overheard a conversation between a strength coach and a personal trainer.

    Among many “insights” shared between the two professionals was the viewpoint that “treadmills are for hamsters.”

    I would like to share why – in my opinion - statements like “treadmills are for hamsters” should never come out of the mouth of a serious professional coach or trainer.

    The first problem is that the statement is non-specific. “Treadmills are for hamsters” to sleep on?, to chew on? Or to walk or run on? Assuming that our friend meant that treadmills are for hamsters to walk or run on, we now need to question if our friend also feels like walking and running in general are for hamsters?

    The strength coach supplying the “insightful” statement supposedly studies several “movement specialists”. Yes, walking or jogging on a treadmill may lack in improving movement quality (except for the quality of running or jogging!) and is NOT the best warm up for a resistance training session, but for my grandfather, now 93, who has just had a blood infection in his leg, getting back to walking is the ticket to staying in his home.

    And this is the second problem with black and white statements. With “treadmills are for hamsters” in your head, you will NEVER recognize it, if walking or running might, in a specific situation, be the BEST choice of exercise (as part of a program) for an athlete or a client.

    Here is a short list of the benefits of walking:

    • Walking can prevent Alzheimer.
    • For seniors, the ability to walk can be the ticket to staying in their own home.
    • Walking is a low impact aerobic activity that helps burn calories, while sparing weight bearing joints.
    • Walking with vacuum breathing is a tremendous tool for toning the abdominal wall and reducing waist size.
    • Walking can be an excellent de-stressor and recovery activity for any athlete, from the recreational to the Olympic level.
    • Walking outdoors is a great energizer in the morning.

    The BIG mistake that we must all warn ourselves against is to hold ANY biases FOR or AGAINST ANY exercise or ANY exercise modalities. If a given exercise is the best for a given athlete or client in a given situation, we must be able to recognize it and prescribe it. I cannot tell you how much this principle has increased my ability to create individualized training programs for athletes from 20 different sports ranging from 15-45 years of age.

    To Your Success,


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