Over the last forty years I have spent A LOT of time at the gym and in fitness classes. I have periodically turned to fitness pros like trainers, other fitness enthusiasts I admire, physical therapists and orthopedic doctors for advice. I also get tons of unwanted advice from fellow gym goers. The truth is, good and bad suggestions can come from many sources so I always listen with an open mind.
I have no doubt that you have encountered similar situations — a well meaning girlfriend shows you how to (incorrectly) change a move or a gym trainer shows you how to use some equipment completely wrong. And I’m sure that you have also been privy to some great ideas that have improved your fitness.
I thought I would share with you the best and the worst fitness advice I’ve ever been given!
- Engage Your Core with Every Movement. Strong core muscles can help with bad posture, balance and stability, spinal alignment, and everyday movements. Think of your core as a corset that stabilizes your entire body. Without core strength you wouldn’t be able to do simple things like gardening or picking up kids. Strengthening your core does not just mean you have to do it in a gym. . . you can do it by walking, bending, etc. Make sure to hold in your stomach muscles every chance you get. This is especially critical when you exercise. You should always be thinking about pulling your belly button into your spine.
- Don’t Be Afraid of Heavy Weights. Some women have the misconception that using heavy weights will make their bodies big and bulky, but that is far from the truth. Women typically don’t gain much size from strength training compared to men. This is because men and women have different hormonal profiles. Lifting challenging weights will add definition and give your body a beautiful sculpted look that appears much more youthful.
- Don’t Work the Same Body Part Every day. Working the same body part everyday may lead to injury. Without enough recovery time, the muscle fibers of an isolated body part will not recover and leave you susceptible to injury. Plan out your week ahead of time to schedule what days you will be working certain body parts. Muscles don’t grow in one or two training sessions.
- Exercise at Least 5x/Week. The exercise components to losing weight are cardio, strength training, and rest days. Strength training should be done at least three times per week and each session should last about an hour. Cardio should be done at least two-three times a week for 30-45 minutes each session. One or two days of the week should be your rest days. If you decide you want to work out on those rest days, I would suggest doing light cardio.
- THE ONLY ADVICE YOU NEED: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!!!
- Hang Weights Around Your Neck. I am going to be honest and admit that I love weight training. I was actually a power lifter in my late forties/early fifties. I was told that hanging weight around my neck would make me stronger. It actually did harm to my body. Recently I have noticed a resurgence of this trend at my gym and on social media. Please, please do not hang anything around your neck when you exercise!
- Don’t spend so much time worrying about your form. I can’t stress enough the importance of correct form during any body movement especially when handling weights. If an exercise is performed incorrectly from the start, it will set you up for injury. This is why so many people have achy necks, bad posture, and back problems. It is imperative to always keep an eye on your form before, during, and after an exercise.
- Drink a beverage tailored to working out when you exercise. Intense workouts can cause our bodies to perspire heavily causing loss of electrolytes and other nutrients. All you need is water. Drinking water can help moderate your body temperature and keep your energy high.
- Stop focusing on the pain. This is the worst thing you can possibly do. Ignoring pain sets you up for self sabotage physically and mentally. If you start to feel a crack, stabbing or throbbing sensation stop immediately. It is VERY important to listen to your body and know when its time to let it heal.