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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

Sleepwhenidie Sun 08-Sep-13 08:32:41

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

Sleepwhenidie Tue 10-Sep-13 16:28:53

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?

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