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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

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!

Sleepwhenidie Sun 22-Sep-13 21:38:34

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.

Sleepwhenidie Mon 23-Sep-13 08:42:36

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

Sleepwhenidie Mon 23-Sep-13 22:26:28

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.

Sleepwhenidie Mon 23-Sep-13 22:26:59

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.

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