When it comes to working out, there are many misconceptions.
For the 7th edition of our practice magazine Your Beauty, we sought out an expert, Lauren McAlister, co-owner of McAlister Training in California, and asked her to share the most common fitness faux pas—so you don’t have to make them yourself. Instead, you can simply enjoy the results.
You spend too much time on the cardio machines.
Let’s be honest, spending an hour on the treadmill isn’t fun. The good news is you don’t have to.
Research shows that incorporating strength training into your routine is essential to burn fat and build muscle. That’s because as you gain muscle, you’ll burn more calories during and after your workouts.
Think about it like this, the more muscle you have the more energy your body uses to complete your daily activities (think folding laundry, going for a walk, and even sleeping). So, when it comes to spending your entire workout on a treadmill, bike, or elliptical, just say cardi-no.
Ladies, you’re afraid to “bulk up”.
Speaking of gaining muscle—some women fear that if they lift weights they’ll start to look Hulk-like. This notion couldn’t be further from the truth.
Women don’t naturally have enough testosterone (the hormone responsible for building muscle as well as body hair and the male Adam’s apple) in their bodies to really get bulky. Plus, to see significant muscle growth, you’d have to intentionally eat an excess amount of calories over an extended period of time.
Instead, proper strength training is one of the most beneficial things a woman can do to increase lean muscle mass, improve bone density and cardiovascular health, and improve insulin levels. And unless you’re planning on turning weight lifting into a full-time job (and that includes significantly upping your calorie intake, too), you don’t need to worry about bulking up. Toned? Yes. Arnold Schwarzenegger? Not even close.
You only stick to machines.
Workout machines like the leg extension machine or ab crunch machine are beneficial for specifically isolating muscles. That’s because they keep your body in a fixed position and usually only work one or two muscle groups at a time.
However, you don’t have to — and shouldn’t — rely on machines alone to get in a good, well-rounded workout. Instead, opt for compound movements using free-weights, barbells, and/or bodyweight during strength training seshes to get the most bang for your buck.
Haven’t strength trained before? Consider hiring a certified personal trainer to help you get the basics down or sign up for a group workout class with a certified instructor to ensure you’re working out as safely and effectively as possible.
You think you can spot treat.
You’ve probably seen magazine covers touting tips to “target trouble areas” like muffin tops or arm wings with crunches or tricep dips.
This approach to fat loss, however, just doesn’t work. Although you can focus on strengthening a specific muscle group, you can’t selectively lose fat in one area with exercise.
The good news is, CoolSculpting does just that; it works to eliminate fat cells in specific areas (Read Dr. Reath’s blog for 5 areas it works even better than liposuction) like the abdomen, love handles, saddle bags, and underarm puffs.
You prescribe to “no pain, no gain”.
The truth is, if you find yourself feeling excessively sore, getting sick more frequently, struggling to fall or stay asleep, or gaining weight (wait, what?!), you may be overtraining and therefore, not getting the results you’re looking for.
Overtraining, aka working out too frequently and/or too intensely, can lead to increased inflammation in the body. Inflammatory responses are physically stressful and can actually do more harm than good—typically causing the body to respond with protective and unwanted fat storage.
The key? Find a routine that works for your schedule — and includes adequate rest. Listen to your body and if you start to feel less than fabulous, you may need to add in an extra rest day or two. Instead of hitting the gym, try going for a hike or a bike ride. Staying active doesn’t always mean hitting a HIIT(high-intensity interval training) class.
You don’t hydrate properly.
You know you should be drinking more water, right? Right. But on days you’re exercising (and sweating), this is especially true. How much is enough? Consider the following calculation: Take your body weight / 2 = the amount of ounces of water you should be consuming EVERY day.
With caffeine consumption (coffee, tea, etc.) and exercise, however, you’ll want to increase this number. That’s because caffeine is a diuretic — and thus, has a dehydrating-effect on the body.
A hard workout also depletes the body of essential hydration and electrolytes. Instead of reaching for an electrolyte drink to replenish (those come with added, unnecessary sugars) opt for a pinch of sea salt in your water to aid in proper electrolyte balance.
You don’t fuel correctly post-workout.
This is a biggie! When it comes to eating after a workout, there are typically two camps: those who don’t fuel properly (i.e., they don’t eat enough) and those who eat anything and everything post-workout (because they “earned” it). Neither are optimal for achieving results.
The hours after your workout are essential to replenishing your body. So, you’ll want to consume protein to aid in protein synthesis (muscle gain) and carbohydrates to replace glycogen in the muscles (fuel stores).
Now, the key here is understanding what types of workouts this applies to. Going for a walk for 20-30 minutes is wonderful but it doesn’t necessarily require a post-workout snack or meal. Going for a run or a high-intensity class? This definitely applies.
Whether you opt for a whole foods meal or a protein shake on the go, with intense exercise you’ll want to reach for about 30 grams of carbohydrates and 15 grams of protein per hour of
workout time. And when it comes to what you’re fueling with, always consider quality (sweet potato > potato chips). After all, you can’t out-train a poor diet.
There is more great information in the Special Fitness Section of the seventh edition of our practice magazine Your Beauty, which just hit the stands.
To get your free copy just fill out the form here and we’ll pop it in the mail to you right away.