Are workouts from men's or women's fitness magazines safe?

Workouts in fitness magazines are geared toward the general population and should be used with caution. Every predesigned workout needs to be tailored to the individual. In short, you need to know your limitations and understand that the magazine is trying to convey proper technique and form. Many magazines also use theatrical weights (props) for their photo shoots, so don't be discouraged when you see a 140 lb guy lifting more than they reasonably should be.

Keep the following in mind:

  • Use the magazine as guidance only
  • Tailor the workout to your specific abilities
  • Don't take on more than you can handle
  • Pay close attention to posture and form

I have also seen some magazines that describe the technique correctly, however, the picture does not always match the proper form. Use multiple resources when creating programs to ensure valid and proper information is being followed.

For the most part, it is fair to assume that the workouts presented in fitness magazines have been approved and/or analyzed by fitness professionals.  However, the real question is--Is it safe for you?  The current physical conditioning of the individual is an enormous piece of the puzzle.  Consulting with a fitness professional before engaging in a new exercise routine is highly recommended.

Usually yes. Since workouts from magazines are going to be a “one size fits all” approach and not very tailored to your specific needs, it is important to use caution and your best judgment before starting any exercise program. If you are new to exercise, it might be best to start with a workout that is more customized to you to help prevent injury or aggravation of an old injury. If you have been exercising regularly and on a consistent basis for at least 12 months or so, you should be okay trying some new workouts from magazines, provided that the exercises fit your current fitness level. In any case, if you feel joint or low back pain due to the movements of the exercises, it will probably be best to look at workout options other than a fitness magazine.

Generally speaking, the workouts from men's and women's fitness magazines are safe.  However, that is not always the case.  You may want to have a fitness professional review the exerise to confirm whether it is a functional exercise, and not a move that could be setting you up for injury. 
For the average healthy individual these workouts are fine.  However, these "cookie cutter" workouts do not take into consideration the compensations that people may have.  Compensations include:  muscle imbalances, injury/surgery history, postural dysfunction, kinetic chain dysfunction, personal fitness level, and personal goals, to name a few.  Before beginning an exercise program, whether it is from a magazine or not, one should always be cleared by a physician.  It is also a great idea to have some assessments done by a certified trainer.  These assessments should (at least) include: cardiorespiratory fitness, posture, dynamic posture, balance, and core strength.  The worst thing you can do is begin a program without knowing your limitations.  If you begin a program without this knowledge you will be setting yourself up for injury; overuse injury and chronic injury.   
Generally speaking, they are safe. Before starting any exercise regimen, you should consult your personal physician to be certain you are healthy enough to take on the additional activity. Also, just because these types of workouts are safe for most people, they may not be quite right for you. Exercise caution when first attempting these workouts and when possible, workout with a partner until you feel comfortable with the movements.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.