If you’ve just started going on a journey to fitness, or you’ve been in it for a few months – chances are you’re not short of strangers that constantly want to dictate to you how you should go about your routine.
The confidence with which these pieces of advice are given to you will often give you no reason to doubt them. But not all the advice out there is accurate. In fact, you should take a lot of it with a pinch of salt and venture out to do your own research.
Fitness guru Ronald Abvajee tells us of the pieces of fitness advice to be wary of:
Light weights and high reps to get toned
Go to the dumbbell rack, pick the smallest pair of weights and go all out. Go for 50-60 reps if that’s to easy, take a lighter weight and aim for a 100 reps. I mean you don’t want to get bulky, right? Well, you won’t. Neither will you get toned. In order to “tighten” all that lose skin, you’re going to have to build lean muscle mass. Going for reps over 20 does nothing for you in terms of strength and muscle mass, beside building endurance.
Fat burners will get you shredded
Only if it were that easy. The product itself is a SUPPLEMENT. Which means it’s meant to supplement your diet, not work as a magic pill. If your diets wrecked, there’s no amount of protein shakes, fat burners or other promising pills that can save you. In fact, some fat burners contain a significant amount of stimulants like caffeine. If you don’t have a tolerance for it, it’s most likely you’ll send your heart racing and end up jittery.
No Pain No Gain
There’s a difference between working hard at something and hurting yourself. This piece of advice makes anyone who may be experiencing abnormal pain shy away from expressing their doubts. Sure, it’s normal to feel a bit (or even a lot) of discomfort when you are exerting yourself, you need to identify the difference between an exercise being hard and one that’s being painful, otherwise you could risk injuring yourself. How do you differentiate between good and bad pain? Watch out for sharp, point specific and constant pain. See if they’re occuring in the muscles you’re working or in other parts of your body. Pay attention to when they occur. Is it during, before or after the exercise? Listen to your body and ask for advice from a professional if you’re in doubt.
Machines are safer and more effective than free weights
While machines are great for beginners and ensure correct movements, they may still cause injury when used inaccurately. They can be less effective on certain muscle groups. It throws free weights under a bad light and may make you falsely assume that free weights aren’t effective or safe. As machines involve moving a weight along a pre-determined path, you will be neglecting the stabilising muscle groups, which in the long run will up your risk of chronic injury. Machines are also fixed and do not accommodate your body specifically, which may cause injury too. Weights allow you to use a full range of motion without a specific pattern and also train your stabilizing muscles. Machines require more skill to use if you’re a complete beginner to weight training, using the machine might be useful the first weeks. However, understand that using free weights in your routine can also help you build a strong body and perhaps try to incorporate that into your workout.
Don’t Do Squats – they will damage your knees
This one is a popular gym advice given to weight-training newbies. Squats are bad for your knees only if you squat in bad form.
Squatting in the right form comes with a host of benefits. Not only do they strengthen your knees by strengthening the muscles surrounding your knees, they burn fat, boost endurance and strengthen your bones. Do those squats, but pay attention to form as well as the progression strategies of your warm-ups. Make sure to choose the appropriate resistance for your fitness level so you don’t end up injuring yourself and blaming it on squats.
Stretching before you workout warms up the muscles
Even in school, we learnt that stretching helps prevent injuries. But we’ve got the timing of the stretching all wrong. You should be doing it after your workouts, not before.
Several studies have now shown that static stretching before exercising could be counterproductive to your workout. It doesn’t help to prevent injuries and could actually affect your strength and speed. Rather than doing static stretching, I suggest that warming up dynamically may be better for your workout. Try moving the muscles that you’ll need in your workout. Do some jumping jacks, squats, skip rope or whatever that’ll get your heart rate gradually going up and loosen your muscles so you don’t get injured.