Tag Archives: lifting

12 Days of Fitness: Day 4 – 10 Fitness Myths That Need to Die

(This is part 4 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

A New Year means more people come to the party and with them they carry on believing in old views about fitness and weight loss. Science gets ignored and myths prevail. Good results sometimes require debunking bad ideas. Far too many enter the New Year with old ideas. They still believe fitness myths that were probably debunked years ago. The following are 10 myths that live on because their friends, coworkers, family members, and popular media continue to endorse them.

  1. Lifting weights makes you bulky. To be fair, my industry has come a long way in dispelling this one. But you’ll still get people, particularly women, who believe three-pound weights will build a lean, toned physique while anything heavier will likely lead to tighter pants. There are literally mountains of science-backed benefits linked to resistance training, like improvements in strength, mood, anti-aging effects and metabolism. Look it up. I’m not lying.
  2. The key to results: Eat a lot less and exercise a lot more. This one is so widespread. It’s convincing because it’s only partly true. You do need to be mindful of what you’re eating and for many that simply means eating a lot less. And most likely you need to exercise more frequently. The trick is not to tackle both at the same time, especially not at full speed.
  3. Keto is the best diet for weight loss. Another year, another diet. Just in the low-carb category, we’ve gone from Atkins to South Beach to Paleo and now to Keto. We could create separate timelines for everything from low-fat to vegetarian to fasts and cleanses. Do you see the ridiculousness? With each new fad, we learn yet again that no single diet is right for everyone, while some aren’t a good idea for anyone. When it comes to a lot of these popular diets, most people don’t completely understand the challenges of a particular diet. Stop following blind faith and believe in good ol hard work!
  4. A good workout burns a ton of calories. As someone in my industry who I admire, Gray Cook says, “First move well, then move often.” Burning calories is a byproduct of your physical activity. It will happen. But labeling any workout good or bad by the number of calories burned and you’re not getting the idea. You generally don’t burn a ton of calories in a workout. In fact, unless you are monitored with gas exchange equipment, it’s a best guess.
  5. Cardio is the only way to lose weight. Visit any gym on any day in January and you’ll be hard-pressed to find an open treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, or stairclimber. It’s a sure sign that the general public still believes cardiovascular exercise is the premier way to drop pounds. After all, a cardio machine keeps a running count of the calories you’ve burned, like exercise is a video game and the goal is to get the highest score. Of course cardio exercise can burn a lot of calories. But there’s a catch: You have to do a lot of it.
  6. Stretching will loosen tight muscles. Humans evolved to move, not spend long hours sitting. We sit at our desks at work, on our couches at home, and in cars. The problem with traditional stretching is that it only pulls on a given muscle, with no consideration for the mobility or stability of the joints surrounding it. A more practical approach: improve range of motion and joint function.
  7. Big muscles are built with big weights. Bigger muscles are typically stronger, and stronger muscles are typically bigger. But the science of muscular hypertrophy is actually more nuanced. Load is just one of the major drivers of hypertrophy. You also need time under tension, which is achieved with moderate to high rep ranges and controlled movements, and volume. The more total sets and reps, the greater the training effect.
  8. Every workout needs to be all-out. Never judge the quality of a workout by how fast your heart is racing or how much you are sweating. What’s even more dangerous is going full throttle when you struggle with less than 50%. Learn to progressively increase workout loads and how beneficial it is to cycle your workouts.
  9. Deadlifting hurts your back, and squatting is bad for your knees. The only people who believe this are those who have never done either exercise properly. The squat and hip hinge movement patterns are vital for health and performance. The best training programs include multiple examples of both. You will receive greater benefit from either or both exercises, than skipping them altogether.
  10. Hiring a personal trainer will fix everything. For so many, contracting a personal trainer is a get-out-of-jail-free card. It means you can cheat on your diets, skip workouts, do whatever you want, etc. After all, you hired a trainer, and that should be enough, right? Don’t you wish. Having an experienced trainer, not some glorified cheerleader, for you will be the one stop solution to getting everything and more out of your fitness journey.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you tomorrow for Day 5 of the 12 Days of Fitness!

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #16 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Day #2 – Cholesterol Myths You Need to Stop Believing
Day #3 – Festively Fit: Staying Fit Over the Holidays

 

 

 

12 Days of Fitness 2017: Day 3 – The New Rules to Strength Training

(This is part 3 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

Today’s post is a guest post from a gentleman I consider to be one of the top training experts in the field today, Bret Contreras. Bret, or the “Glute Guy” as he is known, is the world’s leading expert in glute training and is an accomplished author and presenter. He has a very gifted way of delivering his message and keeping all of the scientific nomenclature out of it for the general population to understand and appreciate. Following is from an article he posted in T Nation titled “The New Rules to Strength Training”. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

If you know enough about anatomy, physiology, and strength training, you could make a case for why every exercise in the book should be avoided. Conversely, you could also make a case for why every exercise in the book should be performed. Without further ado, here are President Contreras’ actual new rules to strength training:

  •  An exercise is judged by how it is supposed to be performed, not by how the jacktards screw it up.
  •  If you think lifting weights is dangerous, try being weak. Being weak is dangerous.
  •  There are no contraindicated exercises, just contraindicated individuals. Learn how your body works and master its mechanics.
  •  If you can’t perform an exercise properly, don’t do it. If an exercise consistently causes pain, don’t do it. If an exercise consistently injures you, don’t do it.
  •  Earn the right to perform an exercise. Correct any dysfunction and become qualified with bodyweight before loading up a movement pattern.
  •  There exists a risk-reward continuum and some exercises are safer than others. It’s up to you to determine where you draw the line. Don’t bitch about your lack of progress or poor joint health as you lie in the bed you made for yourself.
  •  Exercises performed poorly are dangerous, while exercises performed well are beneficial. If you use shitty form, you’ll hurt yourself. It’s only a matter of time.
  •  If you display optimal levels of joint mobility, stability, and motor control, you’ll distribute forces much better and be able to tolerate more volume, intensity, and frequency.
  •  Structural balance is critical. You must strengthen joints in opposing manners to ensure that posture isn’t altered. If your posture erodes due to strength training, it means that you’re a shitty program designer.
  •  Body tissues adjust to become stronger to resist loading. The body is a living organism that adapts to imposed demands.
  •  Your training will be based on your needs, your goals, and your liking. Different goals require different training methods. The loftier your goals, the more risk entailed.
  •  There are two type of stress: eustress and distress. Keep yourself in eustress and you’ll be okay.
  •  If you believe an exercise will hurt you, it probably will.
  •  Injuries in the weight room have more to do with poor form and poor programming than the exercise itself. Exercises are tools. You are the carpenter. A good carpenter never blames his tools.
  •  Rather than drift along with popular trends, it’s more fruitful to learn how the body works, which will allow you to understand the pros and cons of every exercise and make educated decisions in your programming.

At the end of the day, how you train is your call. Whether you play it safe or roll the dice, at least you’re not sitting on the couch. Pain and injuries have a way of teaching you proper form and programming, and having a large arsenal of exercises is important to prevent boredom and habituation and spark further adaptation. In short, keep learnin’ and keep liftin’! I’m President Contreras and I approve this message.

See you tomorrow for Day 4 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – Top 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Exercise
Day #2 – The Dangers of Dieting

Defeating Back Pain at the Office

back painIt’s only Monday and you’re already wishing it was Friday. Sound too familiar? Is work really that bad or is it that you just don’t enjoy what you’re doing? Or is it perhaps that the cause of your anguish really has nothing to do with your job, your career, or your colleagues? Chances are, the one thing that can make any work seem a lot worse than it actually is the one thing you take to work and even take it back home with you. I’m talking of course about your back.

Most of us take our back health for granted until the day that it causes great discomfort.  To this day, back pain is the number one reason why people make appointments to see their doctors, and in most cases, not until the pain has become unbearable.  Identifying back pain is easy and can range from dull, nagging aches, to stiffness, to unexpected sudden twinges or spasms. The more difficult part, but most critical, is being able to identify how you developed the back pain in the first place.

Some common presumed causes of back pain would be picking up a heavy object improperly, bending over awkwardly to pick up something that was dropped, or sleeping in a goofy position.  While all of those causes could certainly lead to back pain, they were more the proverbial “stick that broke the camel’s back” of poor body mechanics and muscle imbalances. After a while, something has to give.  The real culprit in the imbalances we experience is not just from all the sitting, standing, or lifting we may do at work, but how our bodies have to adapt to all of the sitting, standing, or lifting.

Let’s take sitting for example. Due to the amount of time most people spend sitting, the body must gradually adapt itself to that position. This happens in a number of ways. The first thing it must adapt to is how the weight goes through the hips and pelvis. Then, there is the way in which you sit – upright, slouching, or something in between. But what’s most important and often overlooked is what happens to the postural, core, and support muscles while you’re sitting. For example, the hip flexors (crease where the thighs and hips meet) will get tight from being in a shortened position, and the opposing muscles, the gluteus maximus (a.k.a. the butt) will get weak and atrophy from being in a relaxed state. The simple combination of tight hip flexors and weak glutes is what ultimately becomes a “muscle imbalance.” The result of these muscle imbalances will be postural dysfunctions of the pelvis and spine. These imbalances send both the spine and pelvis into abnormal positions, the combination of which can be devastating to a person with a healthy back (the back that goes out from bending over to pick up a simple paper clip) and catastrophic for a person suffering from any form of back pain (i.e. bulged disc). What you must understand is that these imbalances are the direct result of what you do in your everyday life – sitting, the activities of your job, and your own personal habits. What can you do about it?

The good news.  Back pain is highly preventable and even if back pain already exists, can be treated and remedied without any without medications or drugs.  To prevent back pain from occurring, here are some action steps to take:

Sitting

If your job requires you to sit, get up and move around every 20 minutes, even if not just to stand up. While sitting, sit with your legs in different positions and try to keep the legs moving. Stand up when the phone rings or when you have to read something.  Bottom line – stay off of your bottom as much as possible

Standing

If your job requires you to stand all day long, be sure you have quality footwear and a neutral shoe insert. Body mechanics start when our feet hit the ground. It is best if your feet are in the most neutral position possible. One negative body pattern that many people fall into is to continually shift their weight from one foot to the other. The problem with this is that most people eventually find that one leg will be more comfortable than the other, and then that leg will get most of the weight most of the time. This will wreak havoc on the pelvis and spine. Better to put equal pressure on each foot as much as you can, and learn to correct when you catch yourself shifting your weight or leaning on one leg too much.

Lifting

A third obstacle on the job can be situations where you have to lift anything over 10 pounds repeatedly. Again, it’s not the activity itself that puts you in jeopardy; it’s your body’s inability to tolerate the stress of the weight. In other words, you should be able to lift anything you want to and not have any difficulty doing it. The problem occurs when your body is suffering from the muscle imbalances and postural dysfunctions discussed earlier. So, when you lift that object and get injured, the body was already in a compromised state, and it just needed that last bit of stress to send you in to a painful situation.

Stress

It’s an unavoidable fact of life at work, and it can also play a role by causing your muscles to tense up, which makes you more prone to injury. Stress also lowers your tolerance for pain. In some cases, minimizing stress on the job can be a daunting task, but deep-breathing exercises, walking around the block, or even talking about your frustrations with a trusted friend can help.

The best and most reliable ways to prevent and treat back pain is good old fashioned exercise (specifically designed to address muscular imbalances), flexibility training, yoga, regular massage treatments, and proper rest (a good bed is worth its weight in gold). You only get one body…take good care of it.

Featured in March 2009 Issue of 422 Business Advisor