I want to start this out by saying, that in no way is exercise ever pointless or a waste of time. Something is always better than nothing and any amount of exercise should be celebrated.
That being said, there are a lot of “classic” exercises people stick to that really aren’t doing much for your fitness- either because there is a more effective way to work the same muscles, or the exercise you think is hitting certain areas really isn’t hitting anything at all.
People get a little prickly when you tell them their tried and true favorite anything isn’t working for them- but especially when it comes to messing with someone’s health routine. In fact, in the American Council on Exercise personal training certification manual it flat out tells you if someone isn’t going to hurt themselves, either with exercise or nutritionally, like in the case of supplements and vitamins, let ’em be. It’s better to not turn anyone off of diet and exercise than try to be right if it really isn’t life and death.
just for fun, let’s take a look at some exercises that people waste a lot of time on, and how it could be better spent in the pursuit of fitness.
If there’s one thing that kills me as a trainer, it’s when people think they have to spend hours in the gym to get results. If you are in the gym for hours, you aren’t working out intensely enough. Why waste your precious time for less results? If you workout hard and properly, you can get into shape in just a few minutes a day, a few times a week- no joke.
“Slow burn” is a term that exemplifies this. By slowing down the amount of time it takes you to complete a strength training repetition, you achieve muscle failure faster, in less reps. By spending more time on each repetition- about 60-90 seconds to complete a set of 3-6 repetitions- the slow burn method has proven to be a much more efficient weight training technique.
Simply slowing down your reps isn’t quite going to cut it. You must keep perfect form throughout every rep, which is difficult to do, especially for veteran lifters who are used to lifting their maximum weight. By slowing the reps down, momentum- a heavy lifter’s best friend- is eliminated, which cuts down on your chance of injury and better isolates the working muscles. Because of this, however, you will not be able to lift as heavy of a weight as you are used to.
Most health and fitness advice is full of don’ts: Don’t eat after 7, don’t eat fast food, don’t enjoy anything you eat, ever again. That negative connotation is why people view fitness and weight loss as a punishment, or something to be white-knuckled through.
Lasting change is made when you build a habit- and habits are made by systematically DOING something repeatedly until it becomes ingrained. Depriving yourself will not build habits, being proactive will.
So instead of pummeling you with more “don’ts” to make you feel like a failure, here are 50 things you can DO, today, that will improve your health. Pick one a day to try out, or choose one and repeat it everyday until it becomes a habit, but either way, these little “dos” will boost your health the second you do them.
All the old-fashioned mantras of weight lifting can be thrown out the window. Well, at least those related to pumping heavy iron.
You don’t have to lift heavy weights to build muscle. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to make an effort. While it’s often touted that you need to lift heavy weights to gain muscle, according to a new study conducted at McMaster University, you can get the same level of muscle building by using lighter weights. The key is to life the weights until you reach muscle fatigue.
In the study, participants used weights based on a range of repetitions. The heavier weight they used was enough to fatigue them after 5 to 10 repetitions, whereas the lighter weight was an amount that the person could lift at least 24 times. Doing the higher reps of lighter weight worked just as well. (more…)
One of the first steps to getting into shape is setting up a resistance training program to go alongside your cardiovascular program. Resistance training is defined as a specialized method of training that improves and increases muscular endurance. Machine weights, cables, free weights, and resistance bands are among the few specialized types of training.
- Machine weights are a great way to start due to the controlled movements of the machine. All you really need to worry about is how much weight and how many repetitions.
- Cables are a little bit tougher than machine weights because your movements are not controlled, thus allowing the body to be susceptible to injury if not performed correctly. Cables offer hundreds upon hundreds of different exercises for every muscle group of the body. I use cables for a huge portion of my personal workouts as well. (more…)
Stuck in traffic? Waiting for the doctor? Conference call will never end? Then it’s the perfect time to do some bicep curls. Well, it is if you have an iPhone. The new REPS iPhone app lets you use the phone as a virtual free weight to burn calories and tone muscle. (more…)
What is the difference between free weights and machine weights? They both can increase muscular strength and endurance as well as tone and define. So, which is better? Free weights (dumbbells) are a more advanced way of weight training while machines control your movement and limit your range of motion. The greater and more difficult the range of motion, the more effective the exercise is, due to the fact that your body has to work harder to perform that specific movement. Depending on the goal of the exercise, you can determine whether free weights or machine weights are more beneficial. (more…)