You’ll never be short of advice when you go to a gym or look online for workout tips. There are thousands of health and fitness coaches all over the world, and most of them have differing opinions on what does and doesn’t make for a good workout or health and fitness routine. There are even more supposed experts online, many of whom will insist that their self-designed workout is the best one for you to either lose weight or gain muscle. Sometimes even the scientific advice seems to differ, so how are you to know what you should or shouldn’t be doing when it comes to your exercise regimen?
The easiest answer to give to that question is that you should do whatever works for you. Everybody’s body reacts differently to exercise and food input, and so you can only find your best routine through trial and error – a process that takes a lot of time and a lot of effort! Perhaps we can help you save a little bit of that time, though, and point out a few habits to avoid.
Some of the things we’ve been led to believe make for a great routine actually don’t, and if you recognize any of the habits we’re about to list, it’s time to cut them out and focus on something else. We’re not just going to tell you the ‘what,’ though – we’ll also tell you the ‘why.’
Don’t Stay Too Hydrated
We all know how important it is to stay hydrated. Those two words have become so prevalent and so frequently repeated in the health and fitness world that they’ve become a meme – and yet they could lead to you making bad decisions when it comes to taking on water. Our bodies do indeed need to take on water regularly in order to stay healthy, but as with almost anything, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. The real story is that drinking too much water in a single day can be very bad for you. You should only be taking a few tips from a water bottle as and when you need them before, during, and after any exercise routine. Gulping down a whole bottle of water before you begin exercising can be counterproductive. It can cause your body to excrete too much sodium, and in extreme cases, can even lead to a condition called hyponatremia. If you contract that condition, you’ll find yourself in an emergency room in a hospital in double quick time – so start focusing on one bottle to last your whole workout, not three.
Following The Same Fitness Habit For Too Long
Here’s the annoying thing about identifying an optimum workout regimen – you can’t carry on doing it forever. Even if it does wonderful things for your body and health in the short term, the effectiveness of your workout will diminish over time as your body becomes more and more used to it. You might have heard of the online slots metaphor before when it comes to exercise. In that metaphor, the way we work out is compared to the way a player addresses the task of trying to win money from a casino UK. They’re unlikely to win anything at first unless they’re very lucky, and so they have to carry on playing even when they don’t seem to be getting anywhere, and wait until things go their way and the routine starts to pay off. What the metaphor doesn’t take into account is that if you’re not winning anything from one online slots game, you can move on to another one. Once you’ve stopped ‘winning’ – by which we mean adding muscle, losing weight, or improving endurance – you need to find a new routine. You can extend the life of your current one a little longer by adding more reps or wearing resistance bands, but ideally, you should be coming up with a new routine every six weeks.
Stretching Before You Work Out
This is probably the most shocking of our five tips. We’ve all been taught that stretching before strenuous activity prepares our body to endure a workout, and decreases the likelihood that we’ll get injured while we’re working out. It’s a lie. Shockingly, there’s no evidence whatsoever that stretching makes injuries less likely to happen. In fact, it might even hinder your performance or injure you before you start. There’s an asterisk in all this though – it’s only so-called ‘static stretching’ that’s an issue. Bending, lunging, and touching your toes all count as static stretches. Instead of doing that, focus on dynamic stretches instead. Leg lifts, knee-to-chest crunches, and arm circles all count as dynamic stretching. Jumping doesn’t. Planking also counts as a dynamic stretch. Do your own research into this before choosing a set of dynamic stretches, but it’s definitely time to leave the others behind.
Focusing On One Body Part
There’s usually a specific goal people have in mind when they’re putting together a workout routine. Losing weight off a particular part of the body – usually, the stomach, hips, or thighs, is a common one. Gaining muscle in a specific area is another. It’s fine to have these goals, but you shouldn’t make them the focus of your whole workout. You can do all the crunches you want, but you’ll probably never gain abs until you start working on your whole core instead of just your stomach. You’ll also put undue strain on your lower back if you spend all your time on stomach-centric activities. In the long term, you’ll get more out of swimming or cycling than you will from thousands of sit-ups or crunches, and your whole body will be healthier because of it. Similarly, bicep girls don’t burn the fat on your arms. They build muscle, but they don’t burn fat. You’ll need rotational exercises if you want to do that.
Cardio Before Strength
You have to think counter-intuitively if you want to get these forms of exercise in the right order. You might think that your cardio routine gets your body working and builds up your endurance so you can take on strength training afterward, but this is totally the wrong way round. Weights are heavy. You should tackle weights when you have the most energy reserves within your body to call upon – and that won’t be when you’ve just completed an intensive cardio workout. If you come into weight training too tired, the effectiveness of what you do when you get there will be limited because you can’t lift as much or as often. Cardio should only come before strength if you’re looking to train for long-distance running. For everyone else – and especially for anyone trying to lose weight – strength training should come first.
We suspect we probably blew your mind with a few of these, and if we’re honest, it blew our minds when we heard about them for the first time as well. The shock factor doesn’t make any of this information any less true, though – so adjust your routine accordingly!