Posted on

Fitness Professional’s Toolbox: Intermittent Exercise by Joe Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS

When it comes to the design, prescription, and delivery of a comprehensive fitness program, the overarching edicts of safety, efficiency, and effectiveness should always be upheld. However, when life happens and clients’ discretionary spending capacity and available time both dry up, novice personal trainers are apt to throw in the towel.

By far and large, working professionals are not professional athletes and therefore should not be held to the same standards. Working professionals log 40 hours or more per week in their respective industries, whereas professional athletes have a plethora of resources at their disposal, which include state of the art facilities that are staffed by teams of sports medicine, strength and conditioning, and nutrition professionals. These gifted individuals have all they need to exercise and ascribe to a healthy diet, since their priority is achieving and maintaining a body that is healthy and capable of high performance.

 

Working professionals often have a family to support and an assortment of bills to juggle impacting their ability to meet with you regularly and frequently.

 

As such, they may not be able to adhere to a textbook exercise program — which is ironic, since no textbooks prepare you to support your clients when life interferes with exercise programming.

 

Say your client needs to pare down their sessions from three times per week to once per week.

 

Do you write them off? Do you chalk it up to laziness? Do you attribute it to a lack of dedication?

 

If you answered “yes” to any of those, you may want to re-evaluate your career choice.

 

Instead, take a deeper dive into their everyday life. If things are growing hectic on the work- or home- fronts, or if their wallet is getting thinner, consider hybridizing their program.

 

If they can only meet with you once per week, cover the basics in each session: introduce, coach, and perfect fundamental movement patterns. If time and their current level of fitness permit, push them through anaerobic capacity work in the form of traditional strength training, metabolic conditioning, or functional training with a 1:1 work to rest ratio.

 

If they are only meeting with you once per week and have weight loss or general health goals and are unable to dedicate hours in the gym each week, consider complimenting their session(s) or gym visits with intermittent exercise.

 

Research has shown that the inclusion of three short bouts of 10 minutes of physical activity via walking was capable of improving cardiorespiratory fitness over two and six week spans (1).

 

Encourage your client to park to engage in active commuting. Active commuting involves augmenting or completing typically achieved with traditional forms of transportation, such as motor vehicles and trains, with walking or bicycling. And an added bonus is that it’s eco-friendly!

 

Also, you can encourage your client to take “movement breaks” when allotted a 15 minute break at their workplace as mandated by labor regulations. These movement breaks can consist of walking around the workplace, climbing stairwells, or taking a stroll outside while others mull over unhealthy options at the breakroom vending machine or commiserate with others over tobacco coffin nails.

 

Additionally, for clients dealing with musculoskeletal pain and begetting muscular imbalances, the workstation can serve as the new “workplace gym”.

 

In 2016, a Midwestern corporation did just that. Pursuant to having numerous health insurance claims for work-related musculoskeletal disorders, the corporation devised, developed, availed, and promoted an 8-minute stretching program that was based off of the Mayo Clinic’s office stretching program. Over a 60-day period, significant reductions in injuries and missed days of work were noted as was a cost savings in aggregate healthcare spend (2). And though no flexibility measurements were recorded, based off the data, one can easily infer that study participants felt better and likely began moving better during and following their workday.

 

A sample desk-based program can be found below:

 

Lengthen and Strengthen

 

Phase One: Lengthen

 

Seated Upper Trapezius / Neck Extensor Stretch (1 set x 10 full breaths each side)

 

– With open palm, gently grasp crown of head and draw elbow downward

– Hold for prescribed number of breaths and alternate sides

 

Interlocking Hands Pectoralis Minor Stretch (1 set x 10 full breaths)

 

– Place hands behind head and interlace fingers

– Gently cup crown of head with interlocked hands

– Gingerly tilt head back and drive elbows back

– Think external cue of “getting big chest and driving breastbone (sternum) away from chest”

– Hold for prescribed number of breaths

 

Reaching Latissimus Dorsi Stretch (1 set x 10 full breaths)

 

– From seated position, lean forward and grasp edge of desk

– “Pull” torso away from desk and try to achieve a “long spine” (or flat back)

– Hold for prescribed number of breaths

 

Cross Body Shoulder Stretch (1 set x 10 full breaths)

 

– Clench one arm within another and draw it across your body

– Maintain erect torso and “big chest”

– Hold for prescribed number of breaths

 

Torso Supported Calf Stretch (1 set x 10 full breaths)

 

– Stand up and lean forward onto desk, wall, or other stationary object

– Place one foot near the object and other foot behind you, maintaining flat feet

– Keep a “long spine” and extended hips

– Hold for prescribed number of breaths

 

Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch (1 set x 10 full breaths)

 

– Assume half kneeling position, keep shin of front leg and thigh of back leg upright

– Achieve a long spine by keeping core tight and shoulders open and loose

– “Dig” toes of foot of back leg into floor

– Hold for prescribed number of breaths

 

Deep Squat with Belly Breathing (1 set x 10 full breaths)

 

Grasp desk, door frame, cubicle divider or other stationary object

– Descend into deep squat position, with feet at shoulder to hip width and fully on floor

– Drive knees outwardly and keep spine long via tight and activated core

– Hold for prescribed number of breaths

 

Phase Two: Strengthen:

 

Chin Tuck with Deep Cervical Flexor Activation (1 set x 10 repetitions)

 

– Position crown of head against wall

– Keep neck straight and neutral

– Drive chin rearward into throat and try to make a “double chin”

– Hold briefly and return to starting position

– Repeat for prescribed number of repetitions

 

Bent Prone Trap Raise (1 set x 10 repetitions)

 

– Assume prone position with bodyweight supported via one arm on desk or another stationary object

– Dangle other arm down to the floor

– Pull shoulder blade of free arm back and down, and raise arm with thumb side up

– Raises with left hand will be performed with arm at “10 o’clock” angle and right hand will be performed with arm at “2 o’clock” angle a

– Please do not “shrug” shoulders when performing exercise

– Repeat for prescribed number of repetitions

 

Desktop Sliding Shoulder Retraction (1 set x 10 repetitions)

 

– Sitting upright in desk chair, place hands and forearms at shoulder width atop surface of desk

– Keep thumb side up

– Initiate movement by drawing shoulder blades back and down and slide forearms back to torso to complete movement

– Repeat for prescribed number of repetitions

 

Sit to Stand with Overhead Reach (1 set x 10 repetitions)

 

– Secure an immovable chair or object that is roughly knee to mid-thigh height and is capable of supporting entire body weight

– Descend into seated position

– Place your hands across your chest

– Rise from seated position, by driving off your heels, extending your hips and rocking onto forefoot (front of foot)

– Raise your arms with your hands overhead and reach for the ceiling

– Put your arms down and slowly descend into seated position

– Repeat for prescribed number of repetitions

 

References

 

  1. Murphy, M., Nevill, A., Neville, C., Biddle, S. & Hardman, A. (2002). Accumulating brisk walking

for fitness, cardiovascular, and psychological health. Medicine and Science in Sports and

Exercise, 34, 1468-1474.

 

  1. Aje, O.O., Smith-Campbell, B., & Bett, C. (2018). Preventing musculoskeletal disorders in factory workers: evaluating a new eight minute stretching program. Workplace Health & Safety, 66, 343-347.
5/5 (2)

Please rate this

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *