When I’m not good at something, I don’t do it (or rarely). Of my (very long list) of things I don’t do, here’s a sampling:
- Cleaning ovens
- Ironman triathlons
- Regular triathlons
- Running, in general
- Automotive maintenance
- Ice skating
In terms of Pilates, I love flexion exercises. I could probably hold a crunch for an hour, and I’m not exaggerating. But give me back extension exercises and I’m ready to stop after 3 reps. If I’m working out on my own, I fall into the habit of doing the exercises I love, and I can tell you that extension exercises aren’t high on the list.
That being said, if I were doing a postural assessment of myself, I would look at me and say, “You would benefit from extension exercises.” Then, I would design a custom Pilates program that would include a lot of extension exercises and heart-opening stretches. And, then I would be annoyed because that custom program did not include a focus on my favorite exercises.
Why? Because, I’m (relatively) normal, and people do what they’re good at because they like to feel successful.
But why should you actually be doing the things with which you struggle? Here are the top reasons:
- You struggle with them because they are an area of weakness for you.
- If you keep overworking the areas where you are already strong, your weaker areas are going to get even weaker.
- Muscle imbalances put you at risk for injury.
What exactly is a muscle imbalance? It’s strength and flexibility in one muscle group that differs in comparison to the opposite muscle group. You could be weak in one muscle group, and also tight in that muscle group. For instance, you could have weak (and tight) hamstrings. Or you could have weak upper back muscles and tight (opposing) chest muscles. And there you go, muscle imbalance and the inability of your body to work at its functional best.
So, if you hate an exercise because you aren’t good at it, you probably need to do it. A lot. Next time you swing by our Dupont studio for a Pilates class, try requesting the thing you like the least. Your balanced body will thank you for it (maybe not today, but some day).
If you’re unsure if you’re imbalanced, try taking pictures of yourself from the front, back and side. Is your head forward of your shoulders? Does your low back sway inward? Do your knees hyperextend? When in doubt, you can also ask one of your teachers to make some recommendations on what to request.
Since most of us overwork two muscle groups, upcoming blog posts will focus on the areas you want to be careful not to overwork (and why) – your upper trapezius and quadricep muscles. Stay tuned!
Stay hard core,