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07 August 2011 ~ 1 Comment

Shape-Up Shortcuts or Bad Habits to Avoid?

“You’re used to putting in hard work to get a hard body—and that’s a good thing. You have to be committed to health and fitness to see lasting results. But occasionally “cheating” during your workout won’t mess with your fitness goals—in fact, it can even help. The trick is to cheat wisely so that your shortcuts never turn into setbacks.”

This is a recent article from Women’s health Magazine.   Actually, the  article is more about guidelines that can help your workout (or you) – and what can hurt.  Not all the items  are about shortcuts.   It asks and answers 8 questions regarding actions one might take to help get through a workout and mentions what “cheats” to avoid with workouts.    A fun read.

I have developed the article  further with some additional comments in areas where I see the possible answer as “not black and white”, and believe readers need responses that are more fully explored.  The questions/statements are listed first, to give you a chance to think on them.     See what you think is a good idea/ permissible/ not recommended.    Then look further down for the  discussion responses that follow (with my additional comments).   Enjoy!

                      1.   Stopping to walk during a run

                      2.   Not stretching before a workou

                      3.   Skipping the last three reps

                      4.   Resting longer than the prescribed time during a circuit

                      5.   Exercising in the morning when you’re dead tired

                      6.   Leaving class before the cool-down

                      7.   Blowing off lower-body strength training

                      8.   Not drinking H20 during exercise

 The Discussion:

       1.   Stopping to walk during a run

The verdict: Go for it.

Taking short walk breaks helps you run farther, burn more calories, and sidestep injury, says exercise physiologist Tom Holland, author of Beat the Gym. So whether you’re working up to three miles or training for a long-distance event, walking now and then can serve as a useful tool to build up your mileage and endurance. Just make sure you’re stopping only two or three times during a 30-minute run, for about 30 to 60 seconds a pop.

Sixpackatsixty:   Not being an expert runner I defer to the expert.  However, if you are running purely for the exercise and take a one-minute walk every 5 to 10 minutes because that gets you further – or just gets you through the run in an enjoyable manner – go for it!

       2.   Not stretching before a workout

The verdict: Go for it.

While research shows that stretching after a workout can boost strength, prevent injury, and increase range of motion, a 2010 study of almost 1,400 runners found that limbering up before exercise may have few—if any—benefits. To get your blood flowing and muscles prepped, dynamic movements are more effective, says Katie Rothstein, an exercise physiologist at the Orthopedic & Rheumatology Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. Exercises like arm swings and butt kicks increase your joints’ range of motion and prime your muscles for action.

Sixpackatsixty:   The “go for it” is a bit misleading.  The rest of the paragraph is explains that static stretching is not considered to eb beneficial prior to a workout.   None of the experts I researched recommends not stretvhing at all.  They recommend the Dynamic stretching before the workout and static stretching aftger.   Find dynamic movements in my previous blog post…..

http://blog.sixpackatsixty.com/2011/05/12/dynamic-stretches-for-pre-workout/

     3.   Skipping the last three reps

The verdict: Bad idea.

The final reps of a move are where the magic happens. “You have to stress your muscles if you want them to change, and that occurs in those last few reps,” says Holland. Your last reps should be tough to finish but not so difficult that you have to compromise your form. If your form starts to suffer early in the set, switch to a lower weight so you won’t have to skip the last reps—or hurt yourself trying to push through them.

Sixpackatsixty:   We agree!  And focusing on the “negatives” of the last few reps is a great way to go.

     4.   Resting longer than the prescribed time during a circuit

The verdict: Go for it.

Many circuits call for short rests—usually 30 to 60 seconds—to keep your heart rate high enough to produce a cardio benefit (read: calorie burn). But if you’re really struggling after a tough set, tack on an extra 30 seconds of rest, says Rebecca Stephenson, a board-certified women’s health specialist in physical therapy at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. It will give you (and your muscles) enough of a breather to complete the next set with perfect form—without compromising your calorie burn.

     5.   Exercising in the morning when you’re dead tired

The verdict: Bad idea.

If you truly didn’t get enough shut-eye (you rolled in at 3 a.m. or you were up all night with a crying baby), crawl back under the covers. A study found that when dieters were sleep deprived they lost less body fat and more lean muscle mass than when they tallied more Z’s. What’s more, exercising when you’re too drained can take your focus off proper form, upping your risk of injury.

If you’re just feeling groggy, get your butt out of bed by committing to do half of your workout, suggests Michele Olson, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science at Auburn University in Alabama. Chances are, you’ll pick up steam as you go and bang out the whole thing. “Knowing that you can cut it short will get you out the door, which is the hardest part,” she says.

Sixpackatsixty:   The above has been my philosophy.   I didn’t do any studies on it.  It just makes logical sense.  And if the experts agree, all the better.

     6.   Leaving class before the cool-down

The verdict: Go for it.

Letting your heart rate slowly come down after a workout is a must, but skipping a guided cool-down isn’t a big deal, says Holland. Simply walking to the locker room or your car will help ease your body back to its regular core temperature and heart rate, and circulate blood from the muscles you just worked back to your organs. Sitting or standing still after a long or intense workout can cause the blood in your extremities to pool, which can lead to cramping or even fainting.

Sixpackatsixty:   Missing the cool-down should not become a habit – especially if the guided cool-down includes some stretching, that you know you will not do on your own!

       7.    Blowing off lower-body strength training

The verdict: Bad idea.

Your leg muscles do get a workout during cardio, but you need to hit the weights (or do squats or lunges) to make sure you’re hitting all of your muscle groups. “Muscles work in pairs, and when you stick to one type of cardio, you train only half of the pair,” says Holland. “Strength training corrects these imbalances, so you stay injury-free and get great-looking legs to boot.”

Supplement your cardio regimen with at least two lower-body or total-body strength workouts a week, or combine strength and cardio by doing plyometric supersets (explosive moves like squat jumps and split lunge jumps done back-to-back without rest), says Holland.

      8.    Not drinking H20 during exercise

The verdict: Depends.

Unless you’re working out for more than an hour or you’re sweating profusely, you can get away with sipping six ounces before and at least 10 ounces after a sweat session, says Rebecca Stephenson, of Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Sixpackatsixty:   I still believe one should use the guidance:  “don’t wait till you are feeling thirsty to drink water”.   That is  “late”!  Keep water handy regardless of the duration of the workout.  It could be more intense that usual; or the weather could be hotter than usual.  So yes “it all depends”   – and err on the side of caution!

One Response to “Shape-Up Shortcuts or Bad Habits to Avoid?”

  1. Matt 9 August 2011 at 5:39 pm Permalink

    *,very nice page, i certainly enjoy this website, keep on it, keeping on!


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