We are all unique. So why isn’t your exercise program?

You’ve heard the term: humans are like snowflakes, unique and special in their own way.


We are all different, both physiologically and psychologically, and we cannot expect everyone to respond to exercise the same way. Being different is great, it keeps the world going around. Earth would be a very dull place to live if everyone was the same, had the same interests, and did the same thing. This is a factor that then needs to be taken into consideration when allied health professionals, or medical practitioners for that matter, prescribe exercise, nutrition interventions, drugs etc.

Structuring training to achieve a desired result is relatively easy for the majority, but there are always outliers, those high-responders and non-responders that sit at either end of average. It is important for allied health professionals to understand this concept – there is no ‘one size fits all’. All too often many health professionals prescribe ‘cookie-cutter’ programs that do not fit the individual they are treating at all.

We are all different, both physiologically and psychologically, and we cannot expect everyone to respond to exercise the same way.

We are all different, both physiologically and psychologically, and we cannot expect everyone to respond to exercise the same way.

Think back to a time where you may have visited a physiotherapist, a chiropractor, or another professional and they gave you some generic piece of paper, or some generic exercises to help ‘fix’ your issue. “Got a sore shoulder? Cool! Do some theraband external rotations and off you go!’’.

It’s a regular occurrence that needs to be addressed. Each practitioner must adapt their programming to the individual they are helping. They must not succumb to mediocrity, and they must prescribe programs according to the person, not the injury or condition. Every exercise, every set, every rep must be in tune with the individual’s capacities and capabilities. A person with a history of a heart ailment or any chronic illness would need a slightly different workout plan to that of the regular population.

As much as programming is a science, optimal programming is an art. The combination of evidence-based practice with the art of the practitioner is what helps the individual achieve their goals most optimally.

With that said, there is also that matter of the individual’s goals and expectations from their program. It is crucial to program exercises targeted to achieving the goals that the individual has for themselves. Take for example, John, a 55 year old, overweight male who wants to lose weight to improve his health and be able to run around with his grandchildren. Would there be a point in John programming exercises that are going to dramatically improve his bench pressing abilities? Or would it be better to incorporate exercises working towards his goals, such as some aerobic exercise that will increase energy expenditure, helping with fat loss, and also improve his cardiovascular function?

It must also be taken into consideration that goals change, and overtime a medical practitioner will need to re-evaluate those goals to see if they have been achieved or if there are variables that need changing to continue to work towards these goals. This is where the practitioner-client relationship is so important. It should be a team effort, where everyone works together to empower the individual to take charge of their heath, while the practitioner work as a catalyst. The practitioners aim should be to educate and empower their clients, so that they no longer need them in the long term. That is the sign of a dedicated, ethical practitioner.

A person can really benefit so much more from an individualized plan. It can help to develop their confidence as they meet their fitness milestones and goals. This kind of confidence can then help to motivate a person to learn new skills and acquire new, healthy habits, setting them up for a productive future. Proper education on progression of the program can also provide room for a person to have a sense of competence. This allows them to take control and make necessary adjustments to move up in their exercise levels and eventually, meet their goals.

Top 3 things to remember when considering an exercise plan


  1. Everyone is different, has different goals, and different capabilities
  2. Do not accept a generic/cookie-cutter program for you condition or injuries
  3. Develop achievable goals that will help with motivation to continue to move onward and upward


Seek the help of an Accredited Exercise Physiologist to ensure you are exercising right for your uniqueness! To find out more, take the Exercise Right quiz.


Blog contributor bottom banner jason perin

Exercise Right Blog