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  • Luke French, Health Coach

Justification of Exercise Prescription


As exercise professionals, we have ONE job, to prescribe correct exercise. So why don’t we just do that, to our maximum efficiency. Every movement or exercise has to have severe justification as to why we are doing it, or more importantly, why are we giving it to a someone else, who fully trusts us? That is the basis of this post. I am going to breakdown and justify a movement I did today.


This may look fancy, too complicated, or just darn right stupid. But this exercise was 99% perfect for the stimulus I was looking for today, here’s why;


I have some neurological elbow issues so there was many considerations to be taken care of. Firstly, I wanted to get some quality pectoral stimulus in order to sufficiently train that tissue to either retain the muscle, or build it. Firstly, I wanted to make sure the magnitude of the resistance didn’t change too much throughout the excursion (1) so I had to make sure I was far enough away from the wall to ensure tension was in the band at the starting position, and didn’t reach near it elastic limit towards the end of the range, where we would see magnitude shoot up from the band. The range (2) I was working through was short anyway, as I will cover shortly. Continuing on with the resistance, I wanted to elicit an efficient line of pull (3), so the ability of the band to rotate my humerus through horizontal abduction was perfect, hence the band being perpendicular to the excursion my arm was going through.

Furthermore, the point of application(4) of the band/cuff is on my fore arm, so the moment arm to the shoulder is greater, while reducing joint forces(5) going through my injured elbow (I would probably have moved the cuff above my elbow if the size of the cuff enabled me to, but this distance from the axis was nice to provide adequate torque for the pecs to be challenged well - and if the cuff was around my humerus, there would have been a much bigger drop off in magnitude of resistance)


The reasoning behind using both a DB and a band is to make the exercise slightly more congruent (6) to my strength profile(7). As i go through horizontal abduction, the band drops off massively, far more than the drop off in strength of an upper body pushing movement, so I wanted to make sure some resistance kicked in as the band dropped off.


A big consideration was the range of elbow flexion(8) I could go through, as issues start to happen as I enter a more lengthened tricep position. Keeping the DB above the elbow meant one of two things, the length of the tricep did not enter a longer tissue length, meaning I could work through the movement pain free. Secondly, with the DB above the elbow it meant I didn’t have to manage any extra force applied(9) to the elbow from the dumbbell as there was no moment arm(10) and the force was purely compressive(11), helping me keep integrity of the joint (12). The range of motion at the glenohumeral joint was short (13), as the point of application of the resistance of the dumbbell is in my hand, if I had gone to severe end ranges of motion of horizontal abduction and elbow extension, the joint forces I would have had to manage at the glenohumeral joint would have been far greater, and to no added benefit.


My goal was to fatigue the shortened range of the pec(14), so taking to DB further away from the axis(15) and lengthening the pec at the shoulder joint would have had no advantage, in this exercise. Back to the benefit of the band and cuff being in this position, the force angle (16) was near perfect in the shortest range as well as the moment arm being greatest, so the ability to overload this part of the range was optimised (I then went on to train the mid-lengthened ranges in later exercises) 16 considerations for this movement...


For every exercise you prescribe can you justify it like this? Why have you programmed a squat for yourself, or a specific individual for example, JUSTIFY EXERCISE PRESCRIPTION.


We need to take into account all of the following as an exercise professional if we want to call ourselves exercise professionals:

  • Joint forces

  • Strength Profiles

  • Resistance Profiles

  • Magnitude of Resistance

  • Exercise Congruency

  • Resultant Forces

  • Moment Arms

  • Joint Axis

  • Anatomy of the Joint in play

  • Functional Anatomy of the Joint in play

  • Alignment

  • Force Angles

  • Compressive, Shearing and Distraction Forces

  • Exercise/Machine Analysis

  • Available Range of Motion

  • Anatomical/Muscular Restrictions

  • Level of fatigue

  • Injury/Load tolerance

  • And probably about 20 more things…

How many exercises have you prescribed yourself, or another person, with little to no justification. "Its a squat, everyone squats, squats are good for you because they are primal..." this may be applicable to 5% of the population, but not to the majority and the individual that you are, or your client is. When you break down a squat using the above factors, you'll soon realise the squat may not be as efficient as what you thought it was.


#exercisemechanics #biomechanics #exercise #professionals #duty

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