scorecardA personal trainer shared the red flags that an Instagram Live workout is a waste of time
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A personal trainer shared the red flags that an Instagram Live workout is a waste of time

Rachel Hosie   

A personal trainer shared the red flags that an Instagram Live workout is a waste of time
LifeScience7 min read
  • The closure of gyms during the coronavirus lockdown has led to a proliferation of Instagram Live workouts.
  • Practically every trainer, studio, and fitness influencer is offering live workouts, and while it's great to have so much choice, it can be hard to know which are worth your time.
  • Personal trainer and co-founder of London's Equilibrium gym Niko Algieri told Insider that you shouldn't pick a trainer based on their appearance, and explained how to spot a good one.
  • Algieri shared the red flags to look out for that a workout actually probably isn't a good one, as well as the moves he thinks should be avoided, including mountain climbers and jumping jacks.
  • He also explained that HIIT probably isn't the best way to train right now because it's such a contrast to our currently sedentary lives and thus places stress on the body.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Since gyms and fitness studios across the world closed as part of the coronavirus lockdowns, there's been a proliferation of Instagram Live workouts.

On the one hand, this is incredible, helping the public stay active and fit from their living rooms and try workouts from all sorts of places, all for free.

However, the explosion of Instagram Live workouts means it's harder to know which are actually worth doing, and which are simply led by people jumping on a trend in a bid to get more followers.

As personal trainer and co-founder of London's Equilibrium gym Niko Algieri explained to Insider, just because someone has an incredible body it doesn't mean they necessarily know how to lead a good workout.

Being attractive doesn't necessarily make someone a good trainer

"Before you even consider clicking that live button, you need to look at the trainer/influencer profile and content to see whether they are actually a qualified and practicing trainer or class instructor," Algieri said.

"You wouldn't randomly go up to a beautiful person in the street and ask them to train you because they look how you want to look! You'd want credentials, expertise, an ethos that they follow.

"You need more than how they look, and if you don't then you are part of the problem. Look for the professionals, not the beautiful influencers."

Algieri isn't by any means saying that all attractive fitness influencers post bad workouts, and acknowledges that there are many that are "amazing trainers and coaches because they've qualified, trained themselves and other people, and are knowledgeable at programming, cueing, and delivering workouts."

He added: "They care about people and their health, not numbers and brand endorsements."

How to spot a good trainer

With so many fitness influencers and coaches offering free workouts on social media, it can be hard to know which are worth doing.

To help, Algieri said the key is to choose someone who normally trains actual clients and classes, because being a great coach requires constant training and practice.

"If an influencer becomes huge and makes all their income from brands and apps, they'll stop coaching clients but that develops some serious rust on cues and class deliveries," he said.

Over the past few weeks, Algieri says he's seen Instagram Live workouts where the trainers haven't been able to explain the reasoning behind each movement properly, and this is a red flag.

Examples include: "OK we're going to warm up now, because yeah … we need to warm up," "Take magnesium, it's good for you, I don't know the science behind it but get some," and "Place your hands, well not your hands, your palms, and sort of place them kind of behind your, no not behind, by the side of bum …"

And as far as Algieri is concerned, this level of delivery is "unacceptable."

"You wouldn't have a plumber come round and sort of kind of put the correct-ish connection on the pipe would you?" he asks.

For most people, HIIT isn't the best idea

Once you've identified that a trainer may not be as knowledgeable or experienced as you'd like, you should look at the type of workout they're instructing — often this is HIIT (high-intensity interval training).

Of course, any movement is better than no movement: "Something is better than nothing," Algieri said. "These crazy HIIT workouts are getting people to move and enjoy training and this fantastic.

"But constant incorrect technique leads to bad habits, injuries, and demotivation eventually when you can't continue. It's about being strong, healthy, and functional for life, not five minutes."

The main reason Algieri doesn't recommend HIIT right now is that most people are spending the vast majority of their days completely sedentary, so the contrast places extreme stress on the body.

"You've gone from watching Netflix nightly to suddenly performing plyometric movements at speed, with little rest for 45 minutes," he said.

"You're pushing your body to its threshold without any strength development or technique compliance beforehand, it's literally just GO GO GO! The amount of intensity every day leads to an increase in stress."

The more stressed are bodies are, the more likely we are to injure ourselves.

HIIT also places a lot of stress on the joints, and even if a superfit influencer can cope with the intensity of the training, most "normal" people can't.

"Trainers push HIIT training because it's easy to program," Algieri said. "Set a timer and say go.

"It keeps the audience occupied and breathing heavy, leading to them to believe they've had a sweaty, decent workout, when in fact your major muscles have barely moved at full ROM [range of motion]."

Teaching a more effective strength or functional workout on Instagram is harder to do because it requires rest periods of at least 45 to 60 seconds between exercises, so there's more time to fill with talking and it's harder to keep your audience engaged.

Which movements to avoid

The next things to look out for are certain exercises that are performed time and time again, but actually aren't very efficient.

Here Algieri told us his most hated movements and revealed why:

Mountain climbers

Algieri described this classic move as "absolute s***e."

"It is essentially jogging whilst in a plank, when you could just either jog, or hold a plank. Combining the two is overkill, you're stabbing your Achilles tendons into the floor behind you, whilst concentrating on not collapsing through your scapula and destroying your wrists in the process.

"It's lunacy and it's lazy programming from the trainer who's time-filling or scratching for ways to get the heart-rate up."

Jumping jacks

"When would you ever perform the movement in life?" asks Algieri, pointing out that it makes more sense to do more functional movements.

"If you're going to dance, do a dance class."

Push-ups twisting to full side plank

"This one drives me crazy," Algieri said, pointing out that, in general, combining movements is useless because they begin to lose their effectiveness.

"You perform a push-up training mostly your chest, with triceps and shoulders," he explained. "Adding in a twist with a side plank is purely adding in a rest and another lovely opportunity to create bad shoulder position and possible injury.

"These influencers have seen another influencer perform this move, it looks pretty and fun, and they emulate it again and again in their own workouts. Don't do them. Do a push-up, then put in a static hold side plank superset."

Jumping spinning squats

The name alone sounds exhausting to most people, and Algieri said that the movement will "destroy" your knee and hip alignment.

"Think about anyone over 50 or 60 trying this," he stressed. "Their joints will buckle under the constant HIIT pressure."

What to look for in a good workout

So now you know the signs that a workout probably isn't worth your time, what are the signs that one is?

There are five main boxes to tick, according to Algieri:

  1. A well thought out and sensible mobility warm-up to prep you for the workout.
  2. An explanation of what the class/workout is going to involve, be that pure HIIT, strength, endurance, or mobility.
  3. An explanation of the equipment needed.
  4. Clarification of the level: Are they catering to everyone or is it an advanced workout?
  5. Clarity and concision with instructions and movement cues.

"If they're winging it, leave immediately," said Algieri.

Now we know.

Read more:

I want to lose fat and get defined abs but have no fitness equipment. How should I exercise from home for weight loss?

I've spent 4 weeks trying home workout livestreams on Instagram — here are the 5 best ones

How to work out and eat to maintain muscle and fitness while fasting during Ramadan

Read the original article on Insider