Common Fitness Blunders - Part 2Even Experienced Exercisers Can Be Guilty of These
-- By Joe Downie, Certified Physical Fitness Instructor
Check out Common Fitness Blunders Part 1 for Blunders 1 and 2.
Blunder #3: Believing the Myths
There are too many to count. Fitness myths are created for many reasons, but are mainly the result of people unknowingly spreading inaccurate information. Sometimes they are blatant sales approaches to try to get you to buy the latest book, training sessions, or exercise contraption.
There is no miracle solution. The great thing about exercise, just like life, is that there are many different ways to success. Figure out a way that works for you, but don’t fall into the trap and believe these myths.
Myth #1: You will burn more fat if you exercise at a slower intensity. I’m not sure how this started. Maybe the theory behind it believes that exercising at a slow intensity will help you sustain your exercise and create consistency-- which, again, is very important. The problem is you will only condition yourself at a very low level, which won’t help you burn the necessary calories you need to lose weight. Yes, it’s good to start out with this theory in mind so you don’t burn yourself out. But it’s paramount that you increase your intensity over time.
Myth #2: Use light weight to tone your muscles. This always seems to imply that you shouldn’t lift more than what you consider "light". Maybe it’s 5, 10, or even 15 pounds, but you shouldn’t necessarily put a limit on what you should lift. Instead you should put a minimum and maximum on how many times you perform an exercise. Weight should always be relative to how many repetitions you can do. If you can only do 4-6 reps with proper form, the weight is too heavy. If you can do 15-20 reps and feel like you could easily do more, even if you are lifting 100 lbs, you are using a weight that is too light. This doesn’t mean you have to push yourself so hard that you don’t want to ever exercise again. But you should push yourself to the point where you couldn’t do another rep without breaking form the majority of the time if you want to achieve a toned body. Of course, beginners are recommended to work your way up to this point.
Myth #3: Abdominal exercises will help get rid of the fat around your belly. The key to lowering your body fat is burning calories. The best way to torch calories is through cardio. The core muscles are very important to strengthen but unfortunately you don’t burn many calories by working them. Therefore, spending most of your exercise time each workout on abdominal exercises doesn’t make sense. You will burn many more calories and lose overall body fat in all areas of your body by working your larger muscle groups… quadriceps, upper back, chest, shoulders and hamstring/buttocks. Riding a bike, running on a treadmill, or doing the elliptical works all of these large muscle groups, but it’s also important to add a bit more resistance with strength training exercises.
- Myth #4: You have to be an athlete to exercise. Exercise has always been linked directly with athletes because it helps them condition themselves to improve their performance. Unfortunately, exercise hasn’t been linked with the improvement of everyday life as much as it should. Every person benefits from exercise. There are hundreds, if not thousands of different ways to exercise… find the right training that links to your lifestyle.
One of the biggest blunders of an exercise program is the lack of consistency. It’s very similar to climbing a mountain. There may be all sorts of reasons why you want to climb your "mountain"— to lose weight, to gain energy, to improve health, or to fit into your favorite jeans.
You exercise for 2 weeks, then you have to work overtime, so you take a whole week off. You get back to the gym for another week, and you’re feeling great. A couple days later, you have to go to your son’s basketball game, and a few days later, your parents are in town for the weekend. Your exercise quickly falls low on the priority list. Does this sound familiar? You might get over the foothills of your mountain with this approach, but there’s no chance you’ll ever see that beautiful view you have in your mind.
Does that mean you have to exercise every day to be consistent? NO! It means that you need a plan that incorporates fitness into your weekly schedule. This way you continue to climb upwards. The key is not letting yourself tumble back down to the bottom, so even holding steady or just taking one step forward is enough.
Maybe your forward progress starts with 2 days of exercise for 20 minutes until you reach the foothills. Yes, it might take you longer to get over the foothills this way, as opposed to working out 6 days a week for an hour, but it’s a process that allows you to adapt and adjust your current lifestyle to incorporate change for the long haul. When you're ready to tackle that first small mountain, bump it up to 3 days of exercise for 25 minutes. You can actually enjoy the process because it doesn't take everything out of you to get this far, and you find yourself excited to add to your program. This excitement is the motivation that will eventually lead you as far as you want to go. A good view to shoot for is 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes.
At some point something will come up in life that knocks you back down a little bit. It’s only natural that your excitement level can plummet when this happens. But if you expect it and are prepared, you can limit the impact it has on your climb. All the successful climbers understand it’s part of the process. They LEARN from whatever knocks them back so it doesn’t hurt them again at another point along the journey.
Learning how to overcome a tumble, slowly building on your plan, and using excitement as motivation are keys to making exercise a part of your lifestyle. This lifestyle will help you climb that mountain and enjoy the view from the top. From there, it’s all about maintenance.