With so much information out there it’s time consuming to figure out which pieces of advice to believe and follow. That’s what I’m here for! Over the last few weeks I’ve jotted down a few key points I’ve learned from a few trainers, coaches, and professors who are far smarter than I. Take a few of these to heart. Don’t worry, there will be more next week!
1) YOU CAN’T GROW MUSCLE WHILE BURNING FAT
UNLESS….1) you have a large amount of excess adipose tissue (aka fat) 2) You are new to strength training and have very little muscle mass or 3) you’re taking a synthetic enhancement (i.e. steroids). Here’s the good news: the majority of the American public falls into categories 1 and 2. When asked which goal people should focus on first I say, “it depends.” What’s your main goal? Are you trying to lose body fat or build lean muscle? Whatever your decision make sure you focus on all the factors that can help you accomplish your goal, such as eating well and getting plenty of good sleep.
2) PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD NOT DO RIGOROUS PHYSICAL EXERCISE
UNLESS…you have been training in that manner for an extended period of time. While you may train hard while pregnant it is important to avoid any exercise that 1) puts you upside down, 2) puts you in a pronated (face to the floor) position, or 3) is plyometric (at least once the belly becomes too big). If you haven’t been training hard before you became pregnant do not worry. You are still able to perform low impact workouts such as power walking, water aerobics, some very light resistance workouts, yoga, pilates, and so on. No matter what your decision make sure you consult your doctor before engaging in any exercise program.
3) BARRE WORKOUTS WILL NOT MAKE YOU LOOK LIKE A BALLERINA
I cannot stress this enough: your muscles have an origin and insertion point in your body. Your muscles can do many things but one of them is not grow longer. When you hear “lengthen” your muscles they’re referring to the range of motion your muscles can extend to. That DOES NOT change the shape of your muscles. Your genetics either gave you longer limbs with long muscles or shorter limbs with shorter muscles. Still want to look like a ballerina? Dance for 2 hours a day, 4-5x a week for the next 5-10 years, then, perhaps, you’ll look like a ballerina (genetics permitting).
4) ALL FORMS OF CARDIO BURN FAT
I used to be very much into cardio in the form of running. I gradually made a 180 and became very anti-cardio b/c I thought I would lose my “gains” from lifting and make me weak and “flabby”. While there is some truth to losing strength gains from too much cardio there are too many studies that vouch for the consistent fat loss benefits through cardio. Long distance running, cycling, swimming, and so on decrease body fat. The “catch 22” to continued fat loss through cardio is that you need to continually push yourself (very similar to strength training). You want to keep dropping the pounds? You have to run, swim, or cycle further, harder, and longer than the previous training session. But, don’t forget the law of thermodynamics: calories in, calories out. Watch the calories and see continued progress.
5) EVERYTHING IS “FUNCTIONAL” TRAINING
Here’s another example of where I made a 180 with my stance on training styles. Finally, I stopped and realized I kept spinning in circles. Let me explain. For a long time I used to be in the “bodybuilder” style of strength training (i.e. bicep curls on the smith machine). Eventually, I fell into the Crossfit scene and was all about “functional” training. If it wasn’t Crossfits definition of “functional” then it was stupid and everyone else was wrong (ok, I drank the kool aid a little bit). Finally, I read a study about the strength benefits the elderly received from performing machine leg extensions and machine leg curls (gasp!). Guess what? The test subjects legs became stronger. This improved their balance and reduced their risk of falling. That’s when I realized, dare I say, ANYTHING that improves you for the better is functional training. If it makes you stronger, faster, more mobile, improves VO2 max, improves heart health, balance, and so on it is functional! End of story.
Agree? Disagree? Leave your comments below.
STAY FIT MY FRIENDS!