Are You Pragmatic About Your Fitness?

Pragmatic Fitness

There are a lot of ideas out there as to what is best, what you must do to succeed. The blogosphere is full of how to’s, must do’s, and set in stone programs. I admit that when writing to a huge (internet) audience, you tend to fall into the follow this-follow that type of delivery.

I want to explain an idea that you’ll find more with one-on-one coaching, which is usually lost in fitness blogoshere.

Pragmatic Fitness – Basing your fitness in a realistic and sensible way based on practicality versus theoretical concepts.

There is an unlimited amount of fitness related topics we could use to explain this concept. I am going to cover a couple that I hear the most.

Quickly, I do believe there are some concepts and fundamentals that should be followed, such as lifting in the correct rep range, avoiding dietary dogma, and avoiding dad jeans, haha! But we are individuals with unique bodies, metabolisms, hormone profiles, and recovery abilities. So you need to go about things in a way that work for you and make adjustments to help YOU succeed.


1. Rest Periods

A rest period is the amount of time you take between performing sets. This is generally given in a routine as a set amount, i.e. 2 minutes in between sets. The problem with this is time is an external clue, and doesn’t take into account YOUR biofeedback. I learned this idea from Scott Abel a few years ago. Rest and recovery is individualistic, and there is no set time that can fit all. Remember, this is for your personal training. If you’re training for competitions that have time limits, set rest periods, rules, that is different.

rest periods

Rest periods aren’t set in stone

Being pragmatic about your own rest periods is about figuring out what works for you. Don’t just take 90 seconds between sets because some magazine said to. Understand that rest periods are guidelines, they have flexibility, but your own internal biofeedback is what you need to pay attention to, not just the seconds on a timer.

Take the necessary amount of time in between sets till you feel you can perform your next set with the same amount of intensity as the prior set.

2. Avoid Exercise Machines

It is very popular to demonize exercise machines and claim free weights are the only way to go. Again, another flawed way of thinking! This idea removes the individual and their needs and goals. I am pro free weights as I list all free weight exercises in my Muscle Hack series, but that doesn’t mean I neglect machines and their benefits.

Machines can alleviate stress of joints, or be a great finisher after some heavy free weight lifting. I personally use machines after a free weight exercise, for example: I will do incline bench press in reverse pyramid fashion, and then use an incline press machine to add a bit more volume and really finish off my chest. After my heavy incline benching, I am fried and the incline press machine allows me to get some extra work, whereas if I tried to do more incline free weight work, I would put myself at risk for injury due to poor form – by fatigue.

I get a far better workout with a rear delt machine than any free weight rear delt exercise. I would have never figured this out if I avoided machines as most are told to do.

I do think free weights should be the bulk of your exercises, but again, being pragmatic about your exercises and what works for YOU is paramount.

A few more reasons you could use machines:

  • Joint or structural integrity safety due to prior injuries
  • More isolation of the target muscle
  • Exercise rotation
  • Safety while lifting alone

Keep Calm and be Pragmatic


There are no concrete rules in the fitness game. There are guidelines you can follow for your own specific goals, but you also need to find what works for you. Your individualism is going to be different than the next person, taking into account your own internal cues, physical and mental capabilities/limitations is key. Don’t be your own limiting factor, be your own best weapon, only you can find what works best for you!

Be Fit. Dress Great!