Fitness Myths: What You’re Being Told Might Be Hurting Your Results

The fitness industry, like any other, is flooded with misinformation.

The mainstream media is full of websites, magazines, books, and online experts that try to convince us of “quick fixes.”  There are quick fixes for rapid fat loss, trimmer waists, and looking our best with solutions that involve slaving away on treadmills, starving yourself, and using nothing but 5-10 lb weights.

And the misconceptions don’t surround just weight loss, the performance industry is growing every day with someone trying to convince us of their new “sport specific” power, speed, or agility program is the answer to elite level performance.  

We’ve all been there before.  

We leave the gym feeling crushed because we’ve been given the perception that that’s what it takes to achieve our goals.  But this approach is rarely sustainable, and more importantly, oftentimes unsuccessful.  

And the yo-yo continues.

While hard work, sweat, and leaving tired may be a component of improving body composition and power, speed, and agility certainly have a place in any good sports performance program, our focus is wrong.

Essentially, we are working on the frosting before we bake the cake.

Luckily, our understanding of what it takes to enhance your fitness and get in the best shape of your life has grown enormously over the last several years.  Scientific evidence is being produced that is showing us exactly what to do to achieve maximum results.

Unfortunately, sometimes this new information isn’t exciting enough to sell magazines.

 

Fitness Myths: What You’re Being Told Might Be Hurting Your Results

The secret to success is simple. 

The foundation of a successful, sustainable, long-term fitness or performance program must be strength training.  

 

Strength Training to Look and Feel Better

waltham ma strength trainingEvery one of us has a friend (or is the friend…) that is convinced the only way to look and feel better is to slave away on cardio machines or do intense high-intensity interval training (HIIT) every day.

They’ve learned to associate sweat and exhaustion with fat loss and accomplishment. Even worse, they’ve turned exercise into a punishment for poor nutritional choices in the past or a prerequisite for poor choices intended in the near future.

This negative association with exercise can largely be a result of a lack of results, which in turn sends these people deeper into a cycle of punishing workouts, poor nutrition and ultimately unhappiness from a lack of success.

What is missing for many of these individuals is a foundation of strength training off of which many of their goals to look and feel better can be achieved.

Simply put, fat loss occurs by changing your metabolism.

Noted author and strength coach Alwyn Cosgrove often discusses a hierarchy of exercises to perform to increase your metabolism and achieve optimal fat loss.  In this hierarchy, he includes:

  1. Strength Training
  2. High-Intensity Interval Training
  3. Steady State Cardio

 

Strength Training

Strength training should be the foundation of any program.  If you’ve ever found yourself scrolling through pictures on Instagram and admiring others, it’s probably those that had some strength and muscle tone rather than people that are simply “skinny.”

Strong is the new skinny.

Our goal should be to strength train all of our muscles groups.  This doesn’t mean become a bodybuilder, but rather to build some muscle to change our metabolism as much as possible.  

This not only burns an amazing amount of calories, but also increases your resting metabolism so you burn ever MORE calories throughout the day.  Studies have shown that you will burn more calories for the next 38 hours after a strength training workout!

More importantly, we have also learned that people who strength train lose 35% more weight than those who diet and perform cardio exercises, and 44% more than people who diet alone.

The science speaks for itself.

 

High-Intensity Interval Training

Once the foundation of strength training is laid, the next area to focus on is high-intensity interval training, or HIIT.  HIIT essentially means using quick sessions of high-intensity exercise followed by short periods of rest.

HIIT combined with strength training is an amazing combination.  Doing them individually is OK, but performing them together is powerful.

But again, let’s go back to the research.  Studies continue to show that HIIT burns more fat, results in greater weight loss, and decreases your waistline more than traditional cardio.

And there is even more good news – HIIT achieves all this in less than half the time of traditional cardio!  That’s right, studies continue to show that HIIT for 10-20 minutes is more effective than 30-60 minutes of traditional cardio on a treadmill or elliptical.

That’s a win-win.  Better results in half the time.

 

Steady State Cardio

Lastly, steady state cardio is what you would consider “traditional cardio.”  it’s going to gym and exercising on the treadmill or elliptical at an even pace for a long time.

Unfortunately, this is what most people do, often times while watching TV or checking in on Facebook.

Steady state cardio does burn calories but does little to enhance most people’s metabolism.  It can burn calories if you get after it hard enough, but hopefully, as you see now after reading the above, this is not nearly as effective as strength training.  

Traditional cardio is more of the icing than the cake.  In fact, at Champion, we use steady state cardio as a supplement to our clients’ programs if they have additional time.  It’s not the foundation.

 

Strength Training to Perform Better

personal training waltham maWhen we discuss strength training for performance, it really just comes down to physics.

  • Speed is the ability to move fast
  • Power is the ability to move a load fast
  • Agility is the ability to control and dissipate force fast

You need strength for all of the above.

Sure, there are great power, speed, and agility drills out there, and they work, but none of them are going to maximize your performance without the foundation of strength.

Going back to the science, strength training has been researched and shown to increase explosive power, sprint speed, and even 5K times.

Now imagine combining strength training with power, speed, and agility.  That’s performance.

So just like fat loss, strength training is the cake, and power, speed, and agility drills are the frosting.  They are necessary components, but better results are achieved when they are performed with a foundation of strength.

 

Strength Training is the Foundation

As you can see, the key to a successful fitness program is strength training.  Recent scientific evidence has shown us that strength should be the foundation of any program to improve how we look, feel, more, and perform.  

Your time in the gym is limited.  Maximize it by performing a program that gets results and is sustainable and stop the yo-yo.

Stop listening to the magazines that say to starve yourself, stop slaving away on the treadmill, and stop use tiny weights.  

It’s time to get strong, it’s time to get results.

 

Learn Champion’s 5 Pillars of Fitness Success

waltham personal training gymIf you’re interested in learning more, we have an awesome video presentation that you can download for FREE that discusses even more principles and overviews our approach to fitness.  In this video, we’ll overview our 5 pillars of fitness (can you guess that “Strength is the Foundation” is one of them???) that you can use to take your fitness to the next level.

If you are serious about getting more out of your fitness, you’ll get a lot out of our approach.  

 

 

Are Pre-Workout Supplements Good For You?

When it comes to making gains in the gym, whether that be weight loss or muscle gain, many people often turn to supplements to help them reach their goals. A high number of gym goers use pre -workout supplements to enhance their training experience in hopes of getting a better training session. This “pre-workout” class of supplements are promoted to give you more energy and stamina to get through a tough workout.

Synephrine pre-workout supplement

While there is most certainly a time and place for the right dietary supplements, there are concerns with the majority of these pre-workout supplements, which essentially are stimulants.

Champion Strength Coach Rob Sutton recently posted a guest article on MikeReinold.com that discusses the health concerns of many pre-workout supplements, and for good reason!  Rob shares a very personal experience of how he really hurt his own health from this class of supplements.

Great info for everyone, click below to read the article:

 

 

An Advanced Alternative to the Traditional Hip Flexor Stretch

Hey gang! Do you have tight hips? If so, don’t worry about it, because you’re not the only ones. Many people are afflicted with the curse of tight hips (even me). Tight hips can be the result of extended sitting, for example someone who works at a computer all day, and also from a lack of stretching in general.

One of the common issues that tight hips can create is known as anterior pelvic tilt. Anterior pelvic tilt posture is when the front of the pelvis drops and the back of the pelvis rises. This happens when the hip flexors shorten and can really make it hard to maximize your core and glutes.

 

Tight Hip Flexors Associated with Pain

Anterior pelvic tilt has been observed in people with lower back pain, hip pain, knee pain and even flat feet. These chronic conditions can be managed, however, as long as you routinely work on stretching out your hips and enhancing your mobility

The most common stretch for the hip is the half-kneeling hip flexor stretch. This a great stretch when it comes to stretching the hip, but being in a kneeling position can sometimes put unwanted stress on the knee. I am going to show you an advanced alternative to the traditional hip flexor stretch that you can perform in the gym today!

 

How To Perform This Advanced Hip Flexor Stretch

Things you will need:

  • A Bench
  • Power Rack

Hip Flexor Stretch

 

To start this stretch, line a bench up in front of the power rack. Make sure the foot of the hip you are trying to stretch is up against the leg of the bench. The foot of the bench will act as a fulcrum. Once you are settled and lined up, lay back on the bench and bring your opposite leg up and rest it on the rack. This position will be held for about 30 seconds and repeated for 3-5 reps, depending on how tight you are.

If you would like to get a little more top to bottom stretch of your obliques, you can hold a resistance band and have a partner pull (not too hard) to open yourself up a bit more. You can see this in the below image.

Hip Flexor Stretch

 

I hope this new twist on the traditional hip flexor stretch can help you out with any stiffness or pain you may be experiencing due to tight hips. I know it worked for me and I hope it will work for all of you.

Getting Over The Scale

Many women start weight loss programs to fit into their jeans better, look slimmer, feel healthier and feel more energized overall. While that 3 digit number on the scale can hold meaning to us when it comes to weight loss, it’s really important not to obsess over the number.

Why?

Because your weight does not account for the change in your body composition during your weight loss journey. The real number that holds true meaning when it comes to your jean size, health, and appearance is how many inches you’re losing, not pounds.

Checking that number on the scale frequently can be really intimidating and misleading. How many times have you started trying to lose weight through diet and exercise, but you check the scale and immediately feel stressed and anxious because of what it says?!

“Slimming down doesn’t always mean losing weight”, as described by a great article I read Losing Weight Vs. Losing Inches.  Women often gain a couple pounds when they’re eating healthier and exercising more, because they’re gaining muscle. Chances are if they took good measurements of their waist and limbs they would see a loss of inches, even when the scale doesn’t budge!

 

A pound of muscle is much smaller in physical size than a pound of fat.

fat vs. muscleA pound of muscle also helps burn calories while fat likes to hold on to them. Imagine replacing 2 lbs of fat with 2 lbs of muscle! I bet your “skinny jeans” would slide right on! But if you’re looking at the scale, it wouldn’t budge because you replaced the 2 pounds from fat to muscle. 2 pounds is still 2 pounds, it’s the composition that matters!

Inch loss = True fat loss!!!!

There may be other reasons why you want to lose weight. Here’s a list of common reasons why women really want to lose weight.

Fitness is a lifestyle- it’s 80% nutrition 20% exercise and 100% positive attitude

You can’t reach your goals without all three components, but I believe the most important component is feeling good about your decisions and your body (attitude!).

Throw out your scale if you have to in order to stop obsessing over that number, because it really is just a number. Inch loss is the real deal. When you lose inches, even when the scale isn’t budging, it’s telling you that you’re healthier, you’re leaner, you’re getting slimmer, you’re body is transforming. Along with those great accomplishments, you’re probably feeling healthier, more energized, and more confident too!   

Get some measuring tape, check out how to take good measurements, eat healthy, be more physically active, and most importantly….  have fun embracing the incredible journey of fitness :).  I wrote a blog post on the Best Breakfasts for Fat Loss, to get you jump started on healthy eating. 

You deserve to feel great inside and out!