Do you know the new rules of Fitness?
Hate the gym? Love the gym? It hardly matters: as 2016 begins, there’s so much misinformation floating around in the guise of common sense that there’s every chance you’re wasting your time there either way. We are now going to bring you the new rules of fitness you need to know to assess any new regime, however plausible or ridiculous. Give a man a fitness plan, the saying could probably go, and he’ll work out for a week – or 12, tops. Give a man the knowledge to understand which fitness plans work, though, and you give him the means to stay fit and healthy for life.
Harder Isn’t Always Better
The first rule of fitness to learn is nobody can go hard all the time, whatever that guy in the office who just started CrossFit says. Intense activity raises your levels of adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol, with the effect of shutting down some of the body’s major functions, including digestion. That’s fine if you’re running from a tiger, but less so if you’re in the gym trying to lose fat. Stick to activities that provide a little discomfort rather than distress. Drills create skills, so focus on exercise that challenges you just enough to keep you coming back. A few good reps are more beneficial than struggling to finish a set, and making movement fun is key.
Fat Loss Is About Inefficiency
Or technically, it’s about inefficient exercise. It’s simple, any sort of exercise works for fat loss. But as you get better, you become more efficient. This is the problem with jogging: when you start, doing a mile works fine, but as you improve you need more mileage to get more benefit. Inefficient exercise is different for everyone – I’ll waste energy dancing, say, but a skilled dancer won’t get anywhere near the fact loss hit.
The takeaway? Try new sports, or rotate your cardio from rower to bike to treadmill. Alternatively, add another element to your workout: according to studies of muscle response to stimulation, using two kettlebells rather than one increases muscle activation – and fat burn – by 40%.
The Best Abs Are Functional Abs
Anyone can get a six pack if their body fat gets low enough. The trick is getting a set of abs that do the job they’re supposed to. A strong core reduces your risk of injury, improves posture and allows your body to perform better. But it takes more than sit-ups to get one. Instead of just lying on the floor, you need to train your abs in every plane of motion in which they can be engaged – this hits the deeper layers of muscle of the transverse abdominis, and creates balance by training your obliques and lower back. Translation: sit-ups are dead.
You Don’t Need an Hour a Day in the Gym
Another mainstay Rules of Fitness to get your head around is VITAMIN EDA: EVERY DAY ACTIVITY
Good news for the time-strapped: doing one hour of exercise every two days and then lying on the couch isn’t as productive as introducing small amounts of activity throughout your day. Think of it as vitamin EDA: Every Day Activity. It’s your daily movement, done regularly, that provides a foundation of fitness. We live in a culture of convenience so we have to seek out movement opportunities each day – taking the stairs, getting off a stop further from your office.
You’re Supposed to Enjoy It
Of all the Rules of Fitness this is probably the most important- you’ve meant to have fun. The first time you ever hit the gym will be the worst. Three weeks after that, it’ll be all fist-bumping the regulars and feeling that sweet endorphin rush. The most important truth about training is a pretty simple one: most people don’t like things they’re bad at, but by setting simple goals and aiming to improve, you’ll soon reach the point where you miss training more than you dread it. Here’s how to get it done.
Ignore everyone else Don’t worry about what everyone else in the gym is doing. You don’t know their training history or goals, so there’s no point in competing with or feeling intimidated by them. Having the discipline to stick with the weights and exercises you’ve chosen will see you a long way towards your goals.
Embrace the process Stop reading the FT (or Grazia) between sets or while you pedal your bike. The rest between sets is your time to catch your breath, mentally run through form and psych yourself up. Besides, if you’re reading tweets while in the saddle, you should probably be going faster. Training should be a release from daily distractions. When you’re really focused it’s almost like meditation.
Just show up If there’s ever a day you can’t face the gym, just go there and do something – have a sauna, have a shower, do two minutes on the rower, whatever. Not only will this get you used to the process of going to the gym, but when you’re there, chances are you’ll do more than you planned. A nice corollary to this is that many solid training plans only require you to do two or three moves a session, not the dozens most people attempt. Go to the gym, warm up, do some squats, and leave.
The rules of Fitness explained 🙂