As warmer weather makes it way to our lovely state of Tennessee, we find our ways out of our homes and to gyms, rivers, pools, hiking trails, and the like. Great weather can be a catalyst for better mods, better productivity, and better health focus. This season you may find yourself wanting to finally tackle the gym, and for those newcomers, there can be an overwhelming amount of information from friends, family, and online sources. This is one of the reasons many people cannot stay consistent in their exercise is simply not knowing what advice to follow, or being misinformed by common myths. Today we are going to do a little mythbusting, and provide some knowledge on these common myths.
Stretching (before your workout).
Stretching before a workout IS important, however the standard stretches generally seen are called "static stretches." A good example of this is a standing toe touch. Static stretches are best saved for post-workout stretching sessions as they are meant to be done when your muscles are already warmed up and loose. Using static stretches BEFORE a workout can actually cause injuries to do sustained pressure on cold ligaments and muscles.
The best way to stretch before you workout is through light cardio and dynamic stretches related to your planned workout. A simple google search can provide a plethora of dynamic stretches related to particular muscle groups and parts of the body. Our recommendation is to perform 10-15 minutes of cardio before starting your workout.
2. Pre and Post-Workout Snacks or Meals
There is, without a doubt, a myriad of myths and "trips/tricks" that float around exercise and diet. It is common to hear that one should have a snack before/after their workout for the sake of fueling the session. While carbohydrates and protein can provide energy and assist in muscle recovery, a short workout (30-45 minutes) does not always require a meal before or after. Often times a meal eaten previously in the day is more than enough to fuel your routine, and adding in that extra snack before the workout can attribute to weight gain or plateauing due to excess caloric intake.
If you find yourself a bit hungry, we recommend a small protein-packed snack like a quest bar.
3. Long Workouts = Better Results
Working harder does not always equal better results. Spending too much time exercising can cause major muscle strain, or an injury from overusing specific muscles/joints. The most effective way to exercise is with good form, the correct weights, and focused repetitions.
Alternatively, you can breakup a routine by separating your workout into sections like lifting, mobility, and cardio.
4. Targeting Fat in Specific Areas.
One of the greatest myths involving exercise is that fat can be spot targeted with certain exercises. This is absolutely not true, and goes against all science involving the human body and its natural processes. Fat loss is created, primarily, from 2 different practices. The first being regular exercise in order to build muscle (muscle replaces body fat), and keeping your body in a caloric deficit (meaning that you burn my calories than you consume.)
Regular exercise and proper diet change is the only way to reduce body fat without surgical procedures.
5. No Pain, No Gain
Muscle soreness and pain following a workout should not be used to measure if your exercise has been effective.
Extreme muscle soreness can be an indicator of DOMs (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).
DOMS can last up to 48 hours or more in certain situations. Your body will adjust accordingly in the days following. Pain is an indicator of muscle strain (which leads to muscle growth as the muscle tears and rebuilds). Lasting pain, however, is a sign of muscle damage.
Muscle recovery measures are an important part of your post-workout routine, and should be a regular action.