Anyone else confused by exercising myths?

(74 Posts)
whethergirl Sat 07-Sep-13 22:12:40

With every theory, there is a contradicting theory. It does my bloody head in.

I have spent quite a lot of time reading up both in books and on the internet, and am curently trying to sort out a new exercise routine. The plan is to do mat workouts and interval training on alternate days with a rest at the weekend.


Some say that you shouldn't exercise every day as it's counter productive. But clearly many athletes/fitness gurus do.

Some say that exercising for too long is counter productive. The amount of time recommended varies greatly, from 6 minutes to one hour.

Some say that the exercises used should be changed regularly, and there are many different opinions of how regular this should be. On the other hand, some say this is a myth, and that sticking to a similar set of exercises is more beneficial.

It's these three things that I'm struggling with mostly confused

Lazysuzanne Sat 07-Sep-13 22:25:49

There's a lot of 'bro science' a lot of guru's and a lot of theories which don't stand up when examined!

But I think there are some basic principles, and different things work for different people

whethergirl Sat 07-Sep-13 22:27:51

Well there can't be any one set of theories that are superior otherwise everyone would be following them and we'd all know about it, right?

Lazysuzanne Sat 07-Sep-13 22:34:50

true, but for most people there are 2 problems with exercise:
1- doing any at all
2-keeping at it

Lazysuzanne Sat 07-Sep-13 22:37:54

athletes exercise every day because they're fit enough to do so
start easy and build up gradually as your body adapts to the extra stress

the amount of time will depend on the intensity, go easy for a longer time, or harder for a shorter time.

As for changing regularly it depends on the activity in question and the potential for over use injuries

goodasitgets Sat 07-Sep-13 22:40:35

I alternate things. So I do pole fitness (bloody hard work!), boot camp which is intervals and weights, spin class (for HIIT and extended cardio) and horse riding (fun, core work and I have to ride my horse anyway!)
Sometimes I throw in a PT session which is weights, or a core stability or yoga
Tend to exercise 4/5 days a week (I don't count the riding as an exercise day) and have one full day off

Pan Sat 07-Sep-13 22:43:55

I think the first principle is 'what works for you'. You know your body best, and when to exercise and how much and when not to. Your body will tell you and you adapt to it.
Rools work differently for different folk, so there is nothing to be gained from absorbing other people's regimes. Of course there are general principles re need for regular rest days, and the need to vary the types and intensity, and the need for balanced diets. But the fog of rools can take all of the fun out of exercising and just enjoying your body and mind.

whethergirl Sat 07-Sep-13 22:47:50

I just wanted to work out the most efficient process I guess, and I can't when the internet is arguing with itself.

But yes, there is something to be said for practicality. What suits me is to exercise mon - fri for about 45 mins. Although some 'experts' would find fault with that no doubt.

Lazysuzanne Sat 07-Sep-13 22:49:56

what sorts of exercise do you have in mind Whethergirl?

whethergirl Sat 07-Sep-13 22:50:10

the amount of time will depend on the intensity, go easy for a longer time, or harder for a shorter time. Yeh, that makes sense Lazysuzanne. I think, then, what would work well is 1 hour mat workout (which is what most DVDs are) and 20-30 mins high intensity training.

whethergirl Sat 07-Sep-13 22:53:12

Lazysuzanne I was planning to alternate mat workout and HIT. I've always exercised using DVDs due to practicality. So mat workout(for toning, core etc) is usually one of my Tracey Anderson dvds, and HIT is stuff I get off youtube usually. I also use Gillian Michaels - not sure whether that would be mat workout or HIT tbh.

Lazysuzanne Sat 07-Sep-13 22:57:07

I'd be inclined to give that a go and then adjust if necessary, you can always add other things if you need some variety.
I think you tube is a great resource for fitness & exercise.

I think in many ways the best thing is whatever you enjoy the most (or hate the least) and feel you can stick to

I agree with Suzanne the key to "successful" ie consistent exercise is finding something you love or at least enjoy/can tolerate on the worst days, so that you continue staying active regularly, month after month, year after year, rather than going at it full tilt for six weeks then retiring to the sofa for six months smile. Ideally there will be a mix of cardio, resistance and at least a bit of stretching in your routine but anything is better than nothing!

With regard to 6 mins/60 minutes, a person starting to exercise from being unfit would get very little out of a 6 minute HIIT session - they would either not be able to work to the necessary level of intensity or would just injure themselves/end up ill.

As others have said, listen to your body. I am fit and train 5-6 days a week but wouldn't do the same weight training exercises two days in a row because everyone's muscles need time to recover from that, nor would I run two days in a row because I feel the effect in my joints too much - some people are fine with this though.

Your combination of mat and HIIT sounds like it should be fine, change from time to time is good but that need only be swapping one exercise for a different one or increasing weight etc, it needn't be an entirely new routine or type of training.

Cindy34 Sun 08-Sep-13 08:46:24

Whatever you do you need to enjoy it otherwise you won't do it. You need it to fit in with other things you do.

What is your purpose of doing exercise? If it is to lose weight then don't bother as it will not achieve that, least not on it's own. Stop eating as much, avoid artificial things, plus exercise regularly to lose weight - use more calories than you take in.

Lazysuzanne Sun 08-Sep-13 10:04:54

I beg to differ Cindy! Exercise on its own can and does lead to weight loss.

Obviously if you exercise and then eat more that won't happen, but, all other things being equal if you do a reasonable amount of exercise at a reasonable intensity and duration you will drop body fat and/or gain lean tissue

whethergirl Mon 09-Sep-13 21:22:13

Helpful post Sleepwhenidie, thanks.

Cindy I know diet is important, but it's something I struggle with, being an emotional eater. I know I over eat and I know my results are hampered by this. But, I can exercise regularly and do have the motivation for it. At least I can tone up. And it depends what you mean by weight loss - as exercise can increase muscle tone, and muscle weighs more than fat.

I think it is just trial and error and see what works for you. I gym every day as well as do pole fitness some evenings as well....second the comment that it is bloody hard work, but great great fun too.

I try and have at least one rest day a week, usually on the weekend, but anymore than that and I get twitchy.

Diet is the key to weight loss - 80% diet and 20% diet or thereabouts. I don't buy into all this muscle weighs more than would have to really gain a lot of muscle to gain weight because when you exercise yes you are gaining a bit of muscle definition but you are still losing weight - ie fat - and I think really when a lot of people say they haven't lost because they have started a new gym regime and have gained muscle...well, it's just a cop out. I have started a new hardcore brutal gym regime (TRX straps) and this combined with all my poling means I am quite muscly at the moment but my weight has dropped right down.

Lazysuzanne Tue 10-Sep-13 16:03:40

* I don't buy into all this muscle weighs more than fat.*
muscle does weigh more than fat, that is fact not opinion, it is almost twice as dense.
Thats why athletes can have bmi in the overweight range but still be very lean

Lazysuzanne Tue 10-Sep-13 16:05:54

you can look more muscular without actually gaining any muscle...if your body fat drops the muscle underneath can be seen, so you look 'cut'

goodasitgets Tue 10-Sep-13 16:23:44

I know when I stopped all exercise I was the lightest I've been since 2006 but my measurements weren't corresponding to the weight loss
I'm heavy anyway but I'd rather be a few lbs heavier and be tighter

It is true that weight loss is 80% diet 20% exercise and of course all things being equal, ie you continue to eat the same as always but add in exercise, you should lose weight very gradually or at least stop/reduce the amount you gain - losing weight is dependent on creating a calorie deficit.

I do think many people over-estimate calorie usage from exercise - and then eat as much or more than the calories actually burned, hence exercise alone not being a successful strategy for most people. Lots also then give the 'muscle heavier than fat' argument for the weight gained or not lost smile. It is particularly difficult to gain muscle as you say Betty - and one of the things it requires is surplus calories (from protein). Given that most people aiming to lose weight will be restricting calories, or at least not over eating, then it is unlikely that muscle gain will be happening, however as Suzanne says, you may look more muscular if you have lost fat that was previously hiding them grin. The only possible exception to this is certain people starting weight training for the first time, who find they have a short few months where they may lose weight and gain muscle at the same time but typically this is extremely difficult and a bodybuilder would usually go through periods of gaining where they train hard and eat lots, and cutting-where they are super strict with their diet in order to lose fat (and aim to maintain rather than gain muscle).

Whethergirl what you are doing is great and there are so many more, better benefits to be gained from exercise other than just weight loss so it is definitely worthwhile. Tell me to butt out if you aren't interested, but have you tried to solve the emotional eating issue? I am reading a great book at the moment about how our psychology impacts upon our diet and nutrition, it is fascinating and may be helpful. There is also another by the same author, Marc David - here.

whethergirl Tue 10-Sep-13 23:29:19

Well I've seen the 80% diet 20% exercise theory challenged too! But yes, I'm aware that as long as I overeat, I will never get fantastic results by exercise alone. But it's better than nothing.

I dunno Betty, a friend of mine always is always a bit heavier when she works out, and lighter when she doesn't - although body fat is greater.

Building muscle is one of the best ways of burning fat so I do keep this mind when selecting my exercise routines and always have a protein drink afterwards.

Thank you Sleepwhenidie, I am interested but not hopeful really. For most of my life I've always had one vice that was my 'naughty pleasure' that I could look forward to, that would make me feel 'better'. Before DS it has been drink, drugs and/or cigarettes. I've given all that up now but simply replaced it with food. I've tried a few different diets, done the whole Paul McKenna thing and read Allen Carr's book - which I found particularly unhelpful and a load of rubbish actually. Are you reading the Nourishing Wisdom one at the moment? Have you read Allen Carr's Easyweigh book and is it anything like that? If not, then I'll give it a go, it does look quite interesting.

I dunno Betty, a friend of mine always is always a bit heavier when she works out, and lighter when she doesn't - although body fat is greater

A lot of people eat more and reward themselves when they work out a lot - maybe your friend does this?? I know loads of people who go to the gym, do a good work out and the its off to starbucks or mcdonalds or whatever. I work out a lot and have upped my calories (I was over training and under eating) and added a lot more protein to my diet and the weight dropped off, my body fat dropped making me look more muscular.

I do know that muscle weigh more than fat (I am a trained fitness instructor although that was years ago) but I still stand by my comment that it is very hard to actually bulk up with muscle unless you have a very very rigourous programme. It is easier to lose fat than gain muscle so you may well gain say 1 lb in muscle but would probably have lost 3 lbs fat so hence still a weight loss.

It's a science though, everyone is different and a lot depends on metabolism etc and how honest we are with ourselves in what we are eating/doing etc.

BIWI Wed 11-Sep-13 10:33:00

The risk with exercise is that it makes you hungry so you eat more. It makes you hungry because you're using more energy, so it makes sense that you would want to replenish that.

If you can control your eating, whilst doing exercise, then you should be ok - although you do have to do a lot of exercise on a regular basis to make a significant calorie restriction.

As to what's the best way to exercise, I'm as confused as you, whethergirl! Ultimately I would suggest that you do:

- a variety of different things - cardio, HIIT, resistance
- something that you enjoy
- something that fits in with your lifestyle

If you are happy and fit enough to exercise every day, and you're not carrying an injury, then I can't really see why this should be a problem, especially if you're doing a different kind of exercise each day.

Lazysuzanne Wed 11-Sep-13 11:21:52

Biwi I agree exercise can ramp up the appetite.

I use it to keep body fat down, about six to seven hours of moderate intensity cardio Per week and a couple hours strength training, plus probably walk fifteen or so miles a week.

Is that alot?

BIWI Wed 11-Sep-13 12:29:19

I don't know if it's a lot, but it sounds like you should be burning off a fair few calories, obviously depending on the intensity of the exercise. If it's working for you, then it's enough!

That said, I am nowhere near an expert when it comes to exercise. It was only when I started using Map My Run when I started doing C25K that I realised how many calories I was burning. My last run was 32 minutes long, covering 5K, and I burnt 390 calories. Whilst that might sound a lot, I don't run every day (you are advised to run every other day), so over the course of a week, doing it three times, that's only 1,170 calories, which would amount to less than half a pound of fat!

Lazysuzanne Wed 11-Sep-13 12:48:43

sure but as I've often repeated it's not just calories burned, exercise has significant effects on the way your body operates, eg.insulin resistance is improved so that you store excess calories as glycogen in the liver & muscles rather than as fat.

I am lean enough to see my abs, previously for several years I only did strength training, I was about a stone heavier although not fat.

Certainly I'd say I've had to put in more and more 'effort' for smaller returns, pretty sure I wouldnt bother if I didnt enjoy all the various exercise stuff that I dogrin

BIWI Wed 11-Sep-13 12:50:12

Oh yes, absolutely! And also makes you feel good, which is really important.

leonferao Wed 11-Sep-13 15:17:03

It all depends on your goals, current level of adaptation to exercise, your recovery ability which is dependent upon a solid nutritional foundation and plenty sleep, as well as age, training history and stress levels also play a part.

if you want just general health and fitness with a focus on body composition then the order of training priority is progressive strength training (compound functional movements) typically 4 times per week. Interval based training and or high intensity circuits (like crossfit style workouts) 2 times per week and one aerobic based session.

With a good strength program, sound nutritional habits (paleo style) and a sprinkling of conditioning 90% of general health/fitness/body comp goals will be achieved.

Lazysuzanne Wed 11-Sep-13 16:53:42

I disagree that a paleo diet is a requirement, I'm doing pretty well without itgrin
I'd also say that strength training 4 x per week is too frequent for general health & fitness, especially if combined with crossfit (which as far as I know includes Olympic lifts)
It'd be better to spend some of that time and energy on cardio vascular work.

leonferao Tue 17-Sep-13 11:52:49

Hi Lazysuzanne

I'm not saying that paleo was a requirement. I said that eating in that style (lean meats, vegetables etc) with strength training and a sprinkling of conditioning 90% of body composition goals would be achieved.

I advocate compound functional movements and avoid bodybuilding style splits as it is something I disagree with for the purpose of general training, unless of course it is in a rehab/prehab environment :-)

The reason for this is because strength is the fundamental capacity for physical ability and understanding every physical attribute like "cardio" is directly augmented and limited by an individuals strength. The most efficient way for a coach to increase the capacity/improve the performance in any novice trainee is to first get them stronger, hence why I advocate a strength biased program for beginners.

We have a 70 year old woman at our gym who lifts 4 days and does conditioning 2x per week. She has now went back to work at an equestrian centre and is mucking out horses... if we had went down the conditioning route first that would not have been possible.

Training needs to be programmed around your goals and if time is of the essence and you would like to achieve those goals with the minimum amount of time the strength training is the priority along with good diet and conditioning is secondary.

Crossfit... it is down to interpretation and the programming of the coach and weightlifting for beginners and generalists has no place whatsoever in a conditioning routine, that's just unsafe.

Strength training doesn't have to be long drawn out body split routines. If you're training 4x strength we would plan it as lower/upper/lower/upper and it would look something like this

A) High Bar Squat 3x5 (linear progression)
B) Pull-Up X-X-X

a) barbell Press 3x5
b) Push Ups X-X-X
Sub 10 min conditioning

3. Rest day

a) Deadlift 1x5
b) ring row X-X-X

A) barbell row 3x5
b) lunge X-X-X
Sub 10 min conditioning

followed by 2 days of rest.

These are routines that can be done and dusted within 40mins and are extremely effective in getting people fit, strong and healthy.

Lazysuzanne Tue 17-Sep-13 12:10:36

Hi Leongrin
firstly I like to think I know where I am with strength training having done it for over 20 years (mostly for body building type purposes) but yep, my current routine is much as you describe upper body lower body split 3-4 times per week, takes about 40 mins

Perhaps the fact that I've never not strength trained means I underestimate it's importance...I mean I dont appreciate the difference it's made to my physique because it's always been a given

Anyways, thanks for your comprehensive, detailed and interesting postsgrin

Off on a bit of a tangent but I've ordered a copy of this book:

and am looking forward to reading it!

leonferao Tue 17-Sep-13 15:48:49

Hey Lazysuzanne

It's impressive that you've lifted for 20 years. I think it is great when women have had the confidence to go and lift weights without the fear of bulking up, which is the biggest strength training myth out there.

Thank you :-)

I've heard good things about that book. For people like you who are out there to soak up knowledge it is great, though I feel that often people are quick to dismiss an persons hard work and commitment as a genetic gift.

20 years in the iron game. ha. I like that a lot!

Lazysuzanne Tue 17-Sep-13 18:01:57

as it happens I always lifted with the intention of bulking up but it's very difficult for women to gain any real 'size' to that I can testify!

leonferao Wed 18-Sep-13 16:19:30

I find that fascinating. I've only had one girl who has actively trained to gain size. I have advised that many do gain some muscle as they've been walking around at unhealthy weights, but it is a rare thing to find a woman who wants to pack some muscle on/ Good on you :-)

Where are you based?

ginmakesitallok Wed 18-Sep-13 16:29:29

I disagree with those who've said that someone who is unfit is unlikely to get much out of HIT. The point with HIT is that you're working to a % of your own personal max, so an unfit persons max may be less than a fit person's but they'll still see improvements. My dp is a researcher into exercise, and has written books on his research. I have never exercised a day in my life.....

Lazysuzanne Wed 18-Sep-13 17:39:34

Leon, yes we are very rare creatures!
(I'm based in Surrey)

whethergirl Sat 21-Sep-13 23:13:10

Bit late to come back, but anyways...

Re strength training. leonferao and Lazysuzanne, you refer to it in terms of lifting weights, but is there any effective strength training I can do at home? I'm not able to join a gym. Also can you clarify what you mean by 'compound functional movements'.

The guy that wrote 'The Abs diet' also advocates strength training but when I followed his exercises in his book they seemed far to easy and I didn't feel they were doing anything. Perhaps because I was only using 2kg weights?

Lazysuzanne, what type of diet do you follow? I would also not consider Paleo as I'm vegetarian. However, I am attempting a healthy low cal diet, high(ish) in protein and fibre.

My goal is to lose fat and tone up. My current exercise routine is this: Pilates - once a week (I need to do this for my back)
Tracey Anderson matwork dvd - twice a week
Jillian Michaels 30 day Shred dvd - twice a week

I wanted to do some HIT twice a week but I'm finding this hard because any jumping/skipping/running agrivates my back. So I'm trying Jillian Michaels which I think is sort of HIT and I can manage or adapt the movements.

Any comments or suggested improvements very much appreciated!

Lazysuzanne Sun 22-Sep-13 17:33:03

yes there's plenty of strength training stuff that can be done at home, try:
lots of other stuff on you tube

I'm vegetarian aswell, not sure how I'd describe my diet, somewhat brown rice and lentil based lol, I just keep to whole unprocessed food, fruit & lots of veg, I eat eggs & cheese, no sweet stuff except dark chocolate.
Its rather puritanical (except for the chocolate, and the peanut butter) but thats the way I like to rollgrin

I might give up the chocolate because I seem to be losing any taste I have for sweet stuff, but thats by the by!

gin re the HIIT, a six minute very high intensity session should be distinguished separately from a longer session of less intense intervals.

Asking an unfit person to work at that kind of intensity (6 mins) to get fitness gains would be a bit like asking them to run 10 miles without training. They may actually manage it and burn a similar number of calories, work to the same % heart rate etc as a seasoned runner but it wouldn't be pretty, during or afterwards. So my point is by all means use intervals but just for example, do 12-20 mins and start with 30 secs intensity at 70% effort, one min rests, building up gradually so intense sections get longer. As you get fitter then you can make the rest periods shorter and the intensity higher, and in so doing, get the same or better results from a shorter session.

whethergirl you don't mention swimming or stationary cycling but they are good non-impact options for HIIT smile.

whethergirl Sun 22-Sep-13 22:56:42

Thanks for the link Lazysuzanne, I like Fitness Blender, have used them before. But how do I distinguish what is strength training and what isn't? Or is that a stupid question! I used to buy peanut butter for the protein but I actually can't keep it in the house because when it comes to peanut butter, I have zero willpower.

Sleepwhenidie thanks for the suggestions, but I'm looking for something I can do from home as i'm unable to get to a gym.

Whether you are correct with Shred being a type of HIIT, JM alternates strength training with cardio so it's a great combination. Tbh I would increase those workouts if I were you. Otherwise there are loads of bodyweight exercises you can do, search on YouTube for ideas.

If you want to invest, a TRX is a great piece of kit for travel or home, amazing for core strength in particular, then you won't need lots of weights. I would say, for me though, I love lifting heavy weights and this can be impractical at home, particularly when you get stronger and want/need more than smallish dumbells/want to do exercises such as deadlifts etc with barbells....

I am sure Leon will be along soon but I think he is a bit deluged with questions on here and dealing with his new baby smile so for the sake of time, compound functional movements are those exercises which employ several groups of muscles at the same time, in the same way as our body works at physical tasks day to day. So instead of isolating a muscle group and doing, say, bicep curls, do a push up which employs arms, chest and core together. Same with squats, which works your quads and glutes hard but your core has to work hard at stabilising your body to perform the movement, unlike on a machine that you sit/lie on, designed to work bum/thighs.

Lazysuzanne Mon 23-Sep-13 10:15:32

Agree with Sleep re trx, I'd look to get it if I was limited to training at home.

I also feel that a gym or a very good home gym setup is needed if you want to take things beyond a certain level with strength training.

whethergirl Mon 23-Sep-13 22:03:49

Thanks Sleepwhenidie, the trx gear looks amazing and I've put it on my wish list. For now, I'll do the bodyweight exercises on YouTube as you've suggested.

Thanks for the explanation re compound functional movements. JM also seems to focus on this on Shred. However, I have also come across exercises which intentionally isolate muscle groups, so I guess that goes back to my original point of how recommendations can contradict each other.

Lazysuzanne Mon 23-Sep-13 22:25:14

compound exercises are just more efficient. Eg bench press (or press up) is a compound exercise which works pectoral muscles, triceps, front delts all in one movement.
It'd take you three times as long with isolation exercises to work that muscle group, you'd likely not be able to train them as heavy ( so less of a training response) and in everyday life they tend to work together so it makes sense to train them together.

if really pushed for time you can work your whole body with just:
chest press
shoulder press
pull ups/pull downs.

I'd also (ideally) add in some hamstring curls and calf raises.

I'm not saying those are the best exercises, we are all biomechanically different and so different things work for different people, but I would maintain that (in most cases and for general purposes) compound movements are preferable to isolation exercises

Lazysuzanne Mon 23-Sep-13 22:26:21

my original point of how recommendations can contradict each other
bullshit & 'bro science' grin

No worries. If you do order a TRX don't forget to get the door anchor to use it inside the house (I'm guessing you won't have a bracket on the wall smile).

I think if you are training for general fitness and strength you should concentrate on the compound movements, it's usually body builders, focusing on specific parts of their bodies they want to sculpt/build (and are willing to put in the amount of time it takes to train that way) that would do more of the types of exercises that isolate muscles, although of course there will be some crossover with this if you decide you want to do exactly that, in which case you can add those in with the compound exercises.

X post Suzanne!

Lazysuzanne Mon 23-Sep-13 22:39:14

tbh even bodybuilding tends to focus on compound exercises, they are just more effective for overloading the muscle

leonferao Tue 24-Sep-13 09:32:54

Agree with Lazysuzanne on home training.

There is also this little gem that I found useful many moons ago.

Lazysuzanne haha yes, you guys definitely are a rare breed.

How do you feel about doing the trx in the gym then?? Would you not bother and use the machine/free weights. I have changed my gym programme a few weeks ago and use the trx straps 3 times a week (10 exercises, 3 sets) a gym programme once a week using free/machine weights and then a bootcamp session once a week. I find the trx programme far more intense and knackering than my free weight regime but am interested to see what programme is better for defining muscles, getting bod fat down.

I don't think anyone will be able to give you a definitive answer to that one Betty because it depends on what you are doing! In general, I would say that heavy weight training may not feel as intense as the TRX but if you are overloading the muscle then it will, as a result, build it stronger. If you are working at high intensity on the TRX then this is going to burn more fat, however it may not build muscle as well as the weights...and longer term it is the muscle that burns more calories!

So - in my opinion- I'd be interested to hear Suzanne's and Leon's too smile both are great and you can get just as good results doing body weight exercises with TRX as with free weights, if you enjoy both, do both, if you feel like you get more from TRX, do more of that grin!

I just don't know!!!! I guess the proof will be to see how much my body fat percentage has diminished when I have my next measurements taken although it dropped quite a lot initially so thinking it will slow down now anyway.

I enjoy them both so tend to mix and match and I also do pole fitness which is great for strength as well. I get a slightly better calorie burn from trx but not sure about the after burn.

Thanks! smile

HomerPigeon Thu 26-Sep-13 14:49:19

I've just read through this thread with interest as someone who used to be fit, is now unfit, and am starting to get back to exercise.

I would love to know what is best to burn fat: is it longer, slower-paced cardio, or high intensity interval training? In the past week I have been told each of these is the answer, but surely it can only be one or the other?!

Also, is there a basic list of exercises to start doing at home to improve strength, like squats, press-ups, etc? Stuff you can do without any equipment.

Homer I think surely it must depend on each person individually, not one size fits all it you see what I mean.

I did classes for ages, spin, body conditioning, and then later pump and combat. Then I got bored and totally changed my regime and started going to the gym and personally for me the gym gives me better results. However, I was very fit and active anyway by the time I started the gym so the classes probably kick started me. I always always thought cardio was the answer but for me, this is not the case at all although I always incorporate it into my work out even if for just 20 mins.

I think variation is good so mix and match it and more importantly find something you like as you are more likely to be consistant if you actually enjoy it.

If you want to do stuff at home maybe consider the shred or 6 week six pack or something as you dont need anything for that apart from hand weights and if you don't have those you could use tins or something.

I know that Suzanne has different views than me on this Homer and I expect she will be along to give her thoughts, but unless you have lots of time and/or really enjoy long steady cardio sessions, I believe strongly that intervals are the way to go, although I'd use steady cardio for a month or so if you are starting from completely unfit, then start introducing them. They will give you much greater 'bang for your buck' fitness and fat burning wise, than longer, steady sessions (and reduce chance of injury...long runs and slightly older knees - ouch!).

Lots of bodyweight exercises you can do without equipment, as you said, squats, wall sits, push ups, tricep dips using a dining chair, planks and side planks and lunges. Do be careful to get technique right for the squats and lunges though, you don't want to damage your knees. If you look online you can find different versions of all of these, so you can modify according to your strength and build up to harder versions, for example do a push up on your knees if you can do a full one. smile HTH.

If you can't do a full one...

ivykaty44 Thu 26-Sep-13 15:16:43

Some say that you shouldn't exercise every day as it's counter productive. But clearly many athletes/fitness gurus do. what are "they" saying it is counter productive for? Of course athletes train every day but they do have rest days - even in the tour de france they have two rest days when cycling for 21 days and covering 3000km. They also have massages when they get of the bike and other athletes have massages and ice baths etc to help the body recover. I walk three days a week for an hour and do two hours of weights and 4 spin - all covering different parts of the body that covers over the seven days.

Some say that exercising for too long is counter productive. The amount of time recommended varies greatly, from 6 minutes to one hour. What is it counter productive for though? If you go out for a run - will you really only run for 6 minutes? I can't imagine going out for a bike ride and cycling for just 6 minutes - I may be gone for 3 hours and dd is out for 5 hours with a tea stop.

Some say that the exercises used should be changed regularly, and there are many different opinions of how regular this should be. On the other hand, some say this is a myth, and that sticking to a similar set of exercises is more beneficial. If you are training to run a marathon it may be good to do some yoga or swimming but it is going to be pointless doing spin three times a week and not running as come race day you will not be all set to run.

Can I make a suggestion op? Find soem stuff you like doing whether it be walking, running weights, tread mill and then set yourself a goal - run on the treadmill for 5km in under 35 minutes or cycling 30 miles in under one and a half hours, but enjoy what you are doign and then you will keep doing it.

exercising shifts shit out of your body and helps prevent type 2, heart disease, high cholesterol, it makes you feel good as it sets of happy hormones, it keeps you younger, more flexible and weight and cardio help stop/reduce all sorts of menopause problems.

ivykaty44 Thu 26-Sep-13 15:20:18

oh and cyclists have a very low body fat %, probably the lowest of all athletes

They do have very low body fat Ivy but tour cyclists also have very little muscle, they want to be as light as possible - also endurance competitions will burn muscle as well as fat (unlike interval training).

Bradley Wiggins' body for the Tour was very different from when he was a track cyclist, compare for example Sir Chris Hoy's physique, strong and powerful, built for speed over shorter distances, to Wiggins' which tbh I really don't find attractive (aesthetic pov I know but that is usually quite important to most of us) smile. Tour de France competitors aren't exactly known for their longevity either...though of course for many that may be due to practices slightly outside of usual training programmes hmm.

I completely agree with you on your point about finding what you enjoy being key btw Ivy

Seriously does this scroll down to 7th pic - look healthy to you?

Whereas...this.... <fans self>

ivykaty44 Thu 26-Sep-13 16:07:25

I much prefer a track cyclists thighs wink

And chest Ivy grin

And arms....and abs!

HomerPigeon Thu 26-Sep-13 16:18:30

Thanks all, esp. Sleepwhenidie. I am just running at the moment, while I build up a bit of fitness - can run for 25 mins at about 10 mins a mile pace without stopping. The idea of endless long cardio sessions bores me though - I couldn't run for more than an hour without being very bored. I would like to do some strength training but without the gym, which I don't really enjoy so much. I looked at my local Crossfit but it looked absolutely terrifying, like you'd have to be superfit just to consider it. So have signed up for a trial British Military Fitness session, which I was thinking of going to this weekend - is that any good? Or will it leave me broken??!

While I haven't tried either, Crossfit and BMF have madly enthusiastic fans, which suggests to me that they must both be fun, and/or provide a real high and great results. They both sound tough but definitely go and try the BMF, everyone there will have started somewhere and ultimately it's up to you how hard you push your body (don't go too crazy grin). If there's a decent instructor they will tailor what they ask you to do to your ability. If you like it then you'll keep going and no doubt get great results from it and be amazed how quickly you end up doing stuff you thought you never could. Finding the exercise you find fun is such a big key to sticking at it, it changes it from a chore to a treat (ok...most of the time wink). I quite like weight training and interval sessions but I really keep going and work hard at those in order to improve my kickboxing, which is my real passion.

ivykaty44 Thu 26-Sep-13 17:25:25

oh and the arse on them are just peachy wink

ivykaty44 Thu 26-Sep-13 17:30:16

thats the thing sleep you work hard at some types of training to improve and enhance your real love of one or two particular sports/training.

I do spin 3/4 times a week so that I can cycle in the summer with dd or on holiday, this year went away with dd and although I know I can't keep up with her at least I don't hold her up to much and we both enjoy having the freedom and fitness levels to go out for a days ride and do 30/40/50/60 miles.

I do pump for core arms and legs so I can sit on a bike for a few hours without hurting and aching

Lazysuzanne Thu 26-Sep-13 17:44:51

I'm not sure that I exactly disagree with you Sleep on the intensity issue, my opinion tends to shift according to what I'm into at the time and whether it's working for me.

All I can say with any certainty is that exercise is, broadly speaking, beneficialgrin

Currently I do about an hour of cardio a day, I wear a heart rate monitor and vary the intensity according to how I'm feeling, I mix up swimming running cycling & uphill walking.

I'd like to only swim and run but I'd get over use injuries and swimming is already causing problems with my upper body strength training.

I keep my strength training sessions slow & heavy, I dont aim to be getting out of breath.

Not that I think there's anything wrong with taking a different approach and combining cardio with strength training in one session.
Infact it may just be a clothing issue, I like to wear shorts and a tiny top when I'm doing cardio (in order to stay cool) but I sure as hell am not going to wear that in the weights room and be leered at by the knuckdraggers.
I used to only strength train and was nearly 2 stones heavier, of course it was all muscle well, mostly

whethergirl Fri 27-Sep-13 00:19:26

leonferao do you really recommend the Naked Warrior book? It looks a bit faddy/gimmicky to me.

ivykaty44 - re: Some say that you shouldn't exercise every day as it's counter productive. But clearly many athletes/fitness gurus do. Perhaps using athletes as an example was not a good idea as they are very driven to their specific goal, and this is not necessarily the healthiest way. But in answer to your question, 'they' are saying it is counter productive in that better results (weight loss/muscle tone mainly, as these are my goals and so my research will reflect that) are achieved by having rest days inbetween. For example, if you were to do strength training, then the process of muscle repair that will follow will burn fat. So the rest day is needed to allow that repair/burn fat process to happen.

^ I walk three days a week for an hour and do two hours of weights and 4 spin - all covering different parts of the body that covers over the seven days.^ Yes, I have heard it's better to exercise different parts of the body on different days (also ensuring you rest each body part), however, that kind of contradicts the compound functional movements & it's benefits, that we were talking about earlier.

Some say that exercising for too long is counter productive. The amount of time recommended varies greatly, from 6 minutes to one hour. Same as above, really, counter productive to getting the results. Running at the same pace for a long period of time, for example, may not be as effective as running at interval speeds for a shorter time.

Some say that the exercises used should be changed regularly, and there are many different opinions of how regular this should be. On the other hand, some say this is a myth, and that sticking to a similar set of exercises is more beneficial. Again, all the research I've ever done has been with the end goal of losing fat and toning up. So, some say that you need to vary exercises as your body will respond better (lose weight/tone up) to new and different exercises.

I am limited to what exercise I can do as I have to do it from home (single parent) and I'm quite poor! I think I would enjoy lifting weights though, if I had the choice. However, I do enjoy doing my exercise dvds so happy to carry on, however, it would still be useful to seperate myth from fact so that I can get the most out of it.

brainwashed Fri 15-Nov-13 16:59:12

Re this muscle weighs more than fat thing. It doesn't..... 1lb of muscle weighs exactly the same as 1lb of fat, ie.1lb just takes up less space because it is denser.

Lazysuzanne Fri 15-Nov-13 18:00:30

per volume muscle weighs more than fat.

It is surely self evident that on a weight for weight basis all things weigh the same!

Talkinpeace Fri 15-Nov-13 18:10:17

Different people's bodies react to exercise in different ways ... look at the different body shapes of sprinters, middle distance runners and marathon runners as a case in point.

I swim 5 days a week, do lots of yoga and a couple of hours of body pump.
I'm not an athlete, I just want to be lean and healthy as I head towards late middle age.
I hate spin, I cannot jump or run and have a tendency to get lumpy if I do heavy weights.
So I do what I enjoy.

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