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Monday, February 7, 2011

5 things that don't work Part 1

5 Things that don't work for your fitness plan.

This is the first in a five part series on common misconceptions about fitness and achieving goals. I'll name the five biggest mistakes you can make in your quest for fitness and tell you how to avoid them. I'll do one fix each month.

First up is the list, here are the 5 Things That Don't Work:

1. Long Slow Distance Cardio

2. Skipping meals to lose weight

3. " I just want to tone" so I'll use light weights because I don't want to get too bulky.

4. Infomercial gimmicks

5. "I'll do cardio to get in shape before I start lifting weights".

I don't know where to start with this list. I'll just go in order, so this month it's "Long slow distance cardio", or LSD. People have been preprogrammed by the media that cardio vascular training is where it is at to lose weight.

You are spinning your wheels doing this!

Let's get one thing straight here, most people want to lose FAT, not just weight, they just don't realize it. Of course, losing weight isn't bad, but you do not want to lose muscle (NOTE: I hate when people use "loose" instead of "lose"-look for it, it's everywhere!). When the majority of people embark on a weight loss program they are unaware of the difference between the two. In order to get the body that you want, you must maintain muscle and decrease body fat. Muscle is "metabolically active". This means that muscle burns calories just existing. Fat is not metabolically active. It doesn't do anything unless you are a sumo wrestler, and I don't think too many of my readers are.

So should you do cardio? Of course you should and if you are out of shape, start slow an low. You should start out easy for a few weeks (two) and increase it over time. You should also begin strength training right away. Start this slow and low too.

Try this out for your first few weeks: Cardio: three times week-use a machine of your choice or go for a jog. Shoot for about 15-20 minutes at a pace you can keep.

For better results try this-use your body for cardio: Jumping Jacks-20, Squats-20, Pushups-try to do 20, situps-try to do 20, Mountain Climbers-20. Rest 1 minute and do this 4-6 times. It is much better than using a machine. You will be sweating when you are done.

Strength training-shoot for twice a week with a full body workout consisting of basic exercises. Squats, pushups, rows, presses, etcetera are the best choices.

If you don't know how to do them safely and effectively, find a good coach. TPS is full of them.

So, why do we say not to do LSD cardio? It's simple and scientific. LSD cardio does not burn a ton of calories and that is what we are after. It also does not elevate your metabolism much either. There is evidence that it (LSD) can burn more calories during a workout than some forms of strength training, but not after the workout. Strength training is your secret weapon in the war on fat. It DOES elevate your metabolism. It elevates it much more than cardio training-after you have worked out. Your metabolism will be much higher for much longer by strength training. You will burn more calories the day after, not just during the workout.

Interval Training, which is the bodyweight workout I listed, also burns more calories DURING and AFTER the workout than LSD. So if you want to be like a hamster on a wheel, get on the treadmill and go for a 45 minute walk. You won't make much progress, but it's what the fitness "experts" on the local news will tell you to do in January.
Don't listen to monkeys on tv.

If you actually want to look and feel better quickly, follow my advice listed here. If it didn't work, we wouldn't be One of America's 20 Best Gyms, we'd just be another gym down the street.

Stay tuned here for the next four installments.

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