Fitness trainer, Lawrence Hosannah shows you realistic ways to reach your fitness goals for 2007.
The Myths and Truths of Building a Fit and Strong Body
Just like old wives tales, Santa Claus and the Boogie man in the closet, weight lifting myths die hard. The extreme confusion out there when it comes to building a healthier, fitter, stronger and more muscular body is rampant. When I enter any given gym, I see the majority of people doing a few things right and many things the wrong way. If they were doing things right they wouldn’t look the same month after month year after year, with no real strength gains or improvement in overall endurance. I blame the lack of improvement predominantly on the myths of weightlifting.
If your goal is to maintain the same body that you joined the gym with, then it doesn’t really matter how you train. You can go to the gym and sit on the machine and read a newspaper and maintain your results. Why workout to do that? Of course, that’s probably not why you joined up. For one reason or another, you saw in yourself better health fitness, strength, lower body fat and yes, curved muscles. So what happened? Where did you go wrong? Weren’t you on the road with the sun shining above? What made you turn down that trail into the woods?
It probably started with all the nonsense that you read about in the latest muscle magazine, about how you could take this and that miracle concoction and turn your 120 pound skin and bones into a 200 pound Hercules, or how you could lose all the body fat you wanted by training with light weight and high repetitions, or how you needed to live in the gym, training 5-7 days a week for hours in order to reach your goal.
You might have taken this advice to heart, fell for it hook line and sinker, and ended up on someone’s dinner table as part of a fish and chips dish, or in other words making no progress. Well it’s not entirely your fault. Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation in the field of exercise and fitness, a lot of people either with the best of intentions and no real understanding or a lot of people who push products without any real concern if it works or not.
So how does a person sift through the nonsense and arrive at the stuff that actually works? Well, there is much to learn, and I won’t put it all into this article, but I would recommend that you implement the following:
1) If something sounds too good to be true, probably is. Fat free abs in 6 weeks? Lose 20 pounds of pure fat in a week? Take supplement X for 90 days and become just like the bodybuilding champion in supplement X’s ad? Whenever you see advertisements like these, your suspicion meter should go off. Don’t believe the hype. Following a well balanced diet, along with sufficient rest and a sound exercise program will allow you to make your best progress without breaking your wallet.
2) The harder the exercise the better the result. This is not always true but in general terms it applies. For example, if you have to choose between doing barbell squats or that nice new inner thigh machine in the corner, choose the squat. It will produce more overall results in less time. Remember that proper exercise is a stress that causes the body to stimulate gains in lean muscle, strength, endurance and fat loss. Unfortunately the body doesn’t want to change. It would rather stay the same as it is. In order to change it, you must demand that it change. Harder exercises such as the squat, stress the body more and thus, command a greater response in positive results.
3) Training with light weights is not the best way to go to lose body fat and keep it off. Light weights don’t challenge your body enough, and an unchallenged body will remain the same. Light weights are any weight that allows you to complete a set easily with little struggle. Whatever weight program you choose, you must push hard in order to produce the best results. In fact, best gains are made by taking a set to the point at which no additional repetitions are possible. Yeah it’s hard work, but results will come quicker because of that.
4) Weight training every day is not the way to achieve the best result. If you are training with weights every day to build new levels of muscle mass and strength, you are overtraining, if you are not superhuman or on growth drugs. This applies even if you train different muscle groups on different days. It applies because the body needs complete days of rest from intense exercise to allow for quicker gains in lean muscle and strength. Most drug free trainees will make great progress weight training 3 times a week on non-consecutive days, Others will need only 2 weekly sessions of weight training to get the job done. If you are weight training properly you should be getting stronger every time you train. If you are not, then you are probably training too frequently or not hard enough.
5) Perform light exercise on the days that you don’t weight train. If you wish to speed up fat loss and encourage muscle recovery, then do your cardiovascular exercise on your non-weight training days. If you are weight training on Monday, Wednesday and Friday then perform your light exercise on Tuesday, Thursday and maybe Saturdays, for example. Light exercise would include activities such as speed walking, hiking, jogging, biking, or any of the cardiovascular equipment in a gym. Light exercise can been done at a brisk but non strenuous pace for 20 minutes or more. Even something like walking to the grocery store, picking up groceries and walking back can be a great light exercise workout, so be creative.
The application of these solid myth busters will allow you to reach your goals in quick time without breaking your bank or having to live in the gym.
Lawrence Hosannah is a fitness consultant and personal trainer and helps people from all walks of life achieve peak physical condition. He is author of the upcoming book “12 Weeks to Beach Body Abs” the ultimate guide to achieving outstanding abdominal development, which will be available at his website www.hosannahdiesel.com
Lawrence is also a professional artist/ illustrator, view his artwork at www.myseone.com