Sunday, July 31, 2011

Outdated Exercise Rules

Between the time that our parents’ generation discovered the benefits of exercise and today, so much has changed. As with anything, myths were taken as rules and sometimes never went back to being myths. Or a group of researchers could have come up with a theory that became popular and always stuck even after it got disputed. Given that we have a limited amount of time to work out, we don’t want to be wasting any of it on outdated facts. The beauty of information is supposed to be that the more we get, the more we realize that knowledge is power. So let’s do a one-minute information refresher course, shall we?

Outdated rule 1: Crunch till you can crunch no more. Hopefully, if you have been reading the posts on Eights & Weights long enough, you should have realized by now that our bodies don’t work this way. People used to get up in the morning and do hundreds of crunches without working much on anything else. If you have fat on your belly, crunches won’t help burn that fat. You have to do cardio exercises to lose weight all over, and also do crunches to firm up that area as the fat burns off. So if you’ve been spending hours on crunches every day, sorry! You need to add in some gym time.

Outdated rule 2: Work out till your body breaks down. The truth is that it’s very difficult for your body to function well in this manner. Professional athletes work out all day because they also keep fueling their bodies all day. But for the common man, to lose weight, don’t treat your body like garbage. Work hard at the gym, but don’t spend half your day there. Try to work out for about an hour, two at most, but much more than that on a consistent basis is over-tasking your body and making it prime for injury.

Outdated rule 3: Machines are better than free weights. The good thing about machines is that they help with your posture so you don’t have to work too hard to think about whether you’re bending your arm right or lifting to the appropriate height. However, the truth is that machines tend to work different muscles than when we use free weights. And free weights (like dumbbells) or even our own body weights are just as good as using machines. Think about how much benefit you get from a pushup or a downward-facing dog. Do you need any equipment for those? Think about the bodies of those that do kickboxing or pilates. They build all that with their own body weights.

Outdated rule 4: What hurts the most works the most. Granted, exercise usually hurts or we’d all be happy doing it. But the things that hurt the most don’t always burn the most calories or build the most muscles. For example, the elliptical and the spinner burn tons more calories than a regular cycling machine and even a treadmill (depending on your speed). But running takes more effort because of the impact it has on your knees and ankles, and so you feel like you’ve worked out more.

Outdated rule 5: Weight loss is all about your gym time. No, a very important part of losing weight is your diet. But besides your diet, it’s also taking on an active lifestyle. Your gym time definitely counts, but the rest of your day counts too. If you sit for hours and hours, you’re not helping your body burn the calories it would have if you walked down the corridor to talk to your colleague. If you drive everywhere and always take the elevator instead of the stairs, you may be missing out on those few extra calories you could have burned getting to your destination. Remember that these few calories spread across your day definitely add up.

Outdated rule 6: Girls should stick to cardio exercises. Ladies, all you’ve heard about getting big muscles when you lift weights is not really true. To get muscle tone, you need to do strength training exercises like lifting weights, pushups, etc. Men get big muscles faster because they have testosterone, which we don’t. If you’re lifting weights, you won’t suddenly become Arnold Schwarzenegger, especially if you’re also doing cardio to stay lean. Women that gain tons of muscle mass work very hard and take a lot of supplements to get that way. So don’t be scared to lift some weights.

There are tons more outdated rules, and we’ll discuss some more at a later date. But for now, do you readers have any rules you found out were not helping you?

How about we talk about outdated diet rules next week?

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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  1. ... a lot of my friends think they can eat whatever as long as they walk up the stairs. could you add an approximate calorie "break down" to the outdated diet rules next week?
    thanks! :)


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