4 Things Every Good Workout Video Should Have

man sitting after exercise, workout

A man resting after a workout | Source: iStock

Don’t put down your tablet and tie up your jump rope just yet. Sure, the experts are all abuzz about the adverse effects workout videos can have on not only your fitness routine, but also on your drive to get off the couch in the first place. What they haven’t been so forthcoming with though, is at least a little information as to what to look for in an effective workout video — which I guess is where I (the certified personal trainer) come in.

Real quick, a little background: Researchers from Oregon State University’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences found that fitness DVDs — a $250 million-per-year industry — are rampant with demotivating images and words.

The study, which was published in the Sociology of Sport Journal, examined 10 instructor-led, and rather popular, commercial fitness DVDs. With attention placed on imagery and language, it became apparent that what posed as motivational messaging wasn’t that motivational with one out of every seven prompts giving off a negative vibe. You know, along the lines of “You should be dying right now” and “What’s up with that six-pack bruh? Where’s it at?”

According to Brad Cardinal, a kinesiology professor at Oregon State University’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences and lead author of the study, such messaging could actually reduce the effectiveness of the workout, causing the viewer to become discouraged and eventually just give up on finding that six-pack, let alone an improved level of overall health.

But if you’re really not into hitting up the gym and are more determined than ever to get your health and fitness back in check, here are four elements you should look for in the next workout video you give a go.

1. Certified trainer

man doing push-ups

A man exercising | Source: iStock

A fitness model is a real job. And it turns out their most lucrative opportunities are, you guessed it, instructing exercise movements in fitness videos. When choosing a fitness video to workout to be sure the routine is led by a certified trainer, as they are versed in the proper mechanics of specific movements and how to best cue you through a movement to avoid possible injury. Or at least research the company behind the video. In some cases, they may be led by a board of health professionals, which can include certified trainers, physical therapists, sports medicine doctors, nutritionists, or other professionals with expertise in focused areas of health and fitness.

2. Fitness level

ab crunches on fitness ball, exercise

A man doing sit-ups | Source: iStock

If you’re a beginner to this fitness thing, you want to be sure the video you chose is for beginners. You see, more often than not, many workout videos — to claim a sliver of space in the market – amp up the moves, even in videos labeled for first-time exercisers. Not only does this practice put the viewer at risk of injury, but it also de-motivates. For those already at the intermediate or advanced level, give the routine a full look through before jumping right into the movements. You want to be confident you can perform each movement as to not blindly jump lunge your way to an injury.

3. Clear, informed cuing

No need for that “no pain, no gain” nonsense. Getting fit (strength, endurance, mass, all that stuff) in 2016 is about being able to effectively and efficiently make it through a workout while increasing your functionality. OK, it’s also about upping strength and mass in the process — if that’s your goal. What it’s not about is having some meathead on a video push you around — and particularly into bad form, with fragmented and unclear cuing. Instruction should include alignment and position notes, as well as common mistakes to avoid, all in an effort to prevent injury. If the trainer succinctly details why the program is developed the way it is, that’s an added plus.

4. Exercise modifications made available

man stretching

A man stretching | Source: Thinkstock

A good percentage of my clients have previous injuries or musculoskeletal imbalances, and more often than not, we need to act on the fly and modify their workout. The truth is that no two individuals train exactly the same. So you can’t exactly expect a video marketed to thousands of individuals to effectively hone in on your goals via exercises that sync with your natural movement patterns. The fitness video you choose should explain load and rep range, as per your current fitness level and goals. It should also feature information on how make certain exercises easier, as well as more challenging. Remember, there are no quick fixes.

Ellen Thompson is a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer at Blink Fitness in New York City, where she serves as Head Trainer at the Penn Plaza location. Ellen’s approach to training is that “anything is possible.” Endurance, strength, and stability/agility training are at the core of her fitness programming. She holds a master’s degree in New Media Publishing and Magazine Editing from the prestigious Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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