Maximize Your Workouts, Ditch The Relics

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By: Christine King Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers

As in most industries and disciplines, technology, science, and research reveal new and improved products, methods and formulas on a regular basis. The fitness industry is no exception.  The evolution of training methods, exercise philosophies, and class programming have brought us from Jane Fonda to High Intensity Training.

To compare, let’s use the tech industry. There’s an overall energy abound when the newest phone, computer, and other magical gadget are released and the scramble to learn the features that will dramatically improve our lives.

The attention to advances in the health and fitness industry don’t quite seem to attract the same enthusiasm. This contributes to a lack of results, injuries and missing out on getting the biggest bang for your buck during your workout.

The most cringe-worthy dinosaurs still lurking in the gym include:

Weight Belts: These were abolished over 15 years ago. Research revealed the belts create intraabdominal pressure which can LEAD to back injuries, hernias, and ineffective weight lifting methods. Wearing a weight belt causes the abdomen to push out against the belt. The body is confused as there’s no such girdle in everyday life. Hence, the reason for injuries during daily activities. The beautiful structure known as the human body is meant to support you.

If you’ve been wearing a belt since the beginning of time and choose to retire it, there are some precautions. Maintaining posture and keeping the abdominals tight are absolute musts. Additionally, during the initial few weeks, the amount of weight used should be reduced by half.

Full Sit-Ups: The next extinct fossil is full sit-ups. Whether performed by anchoring feet or ankles or just lying on the floor, I wince every time I witness this movement. Many people don’t realize that once the upper extremity pushes past the “crunch” position, all of the load is on the low back. Ergo, the amount of injuries from this movement. There’s nothing at all taboo about exercising the low back, quite the opposite, but let’s do it the right way with bent knee deadlifts, bridges, and other safe and effective methods.

Lack of Deceleration:  It’s exciting to gain strength and increase the amount of weight you’re able to lift.  The operative word being “able.” The ability to lift a weight also includes the capability to release the weight. When lifting weights, speed isn’t our friend. Momentum eliminates half of the exercise benefit. The eccentric or deceleration component of any exercise is just as or even more important than the lift or concentric factor.

As industry professionals, we say, “If the weight is too heavy, don’t lift it.” If you cannot decelerate, the weight is too heavy. Cut it in half, and you’ll realize the same benefits as tossing the weight belt!

Warm up/Cool Down: No matter how much we preach to our clients about the high importance of these two practices, people still skip one or both. Ignoring your warm up and cool down significantly increases the likelihood of injury or death. Warming the body before any athletic activity is essential to bring blood flow and warmth to all areas of the body. You’ll be able to lift more efficiently, increase the amount of weight used faster and achieve results quicker.

Regarding cardiovascular activity, the risk of a heart incident or death is imminent without a cool down.  At the end of a cardio workout, you should not finish until your heart rate is no more than 10 beats higher than when you began. For example, if your heart rate is 100 BPM when you start, and throughout the 20-30 minutes your heart bumps up to 120, 130, 150, etc., you cannot finish until BPM are down to 110. If this is ignored, once you’ve completed the workout, all of the blood drops to your feet, and due to the lack of movement, it can’t make its way back to the heart fast enough to not incur an incident. This is the opposite of the reason you’re on the treadmill in the first place.

As you continue your health journey, take proper precautions to improve your health. Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.

Christine King is a Medical Exercise Specialist, Fitness Expert, and Founder of YourBestFit. The health and wellness company has helped thousands of clients recover from injuries, look and feel better and improve their overall well-being.  www.YourBestFit.com