Today’s guest blog post is by Sherry MacDonald, a personal trainer, nutrition coach and owner of Elite Physiques in Lewis Center, Ohio. We met last year at the Bloggers At Midlife Conference and discovered our mutual love of lifting weights, fitness and fashion. Today, Sherry dispels a lot of the exercise myths that those of us who grew up in the era of Jane Fonda, “feel the burn”, shiny tights and legwarmers grew up believing.
The Top 5 Crazy Exercise Myths That Women Need To Know
After being in the health and wellness business for over 20 years I still hear these exercise myths. They just won’t go away.
Let me tell you what I see. I have clients of all ages but mostly over 50. Some have never worked out and some off and on. Either way, many of them come to me in bad shape. They can’t get up and down off of the floor. They have back problems, knee and hip problems and much more. Almost always, after 2 to 3 weeks of training, they are 50 percent better. After a couple of months, they are 80 percent or more better. I see some amazing changes in my over 50’s clients. I have a client who is 68 and in better shape than some 20-year-olds. My clients over 70 train with me 2 days a week, play golf, and walk almost every day.
Everyone can do this. Join the YMCA or buy a workout DVD. Need more motivation, read Cathy’s post about Crossfit and what she learned from it.
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Exercise Myth #1 – Lifting weights will make me big and bulky
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This is the number one comment I hear. New clients come in and tell me, “I want to tone but I don’t want to get big and bulky (B&B)”. So, after telling them, if you don’t want to get B&B then look at your diet. Very few people have the genetics to build lots of muscle and it takes time, heavy lifting, good nutrition. If you want to get lean, lose weight, or change the shape of your body you HAVE TO weight train!
You can’t tone fat so if you don’t build muscle what are you going to tone? Ladies out there over 50, you know how hard it is to build muscle and keep it. The older you get the harder you have to work to keep it. We have to work harder than ever and never stop! When I am 70, I want to be able to go to the store and get 5 bags of 50-pound bird seed and put them in my car like I do now at the young age of 58.
One more thing. Don’t be afraid to go heavy. You won’t increase lean muscle lifting 5-pound dumb bells.
Exercise Myth #2 – No pain no gain
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According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, no pain no gain “is an exercise phrase that promises greater value rewards for the price of hard and even painful work”. Did you know this phrase came from Jane Fonda’s aerobic days? She also used the phrase “feel the burn”.
First of all, you should never do an exercise that causes pain. Even if you get halfway through an exercise and you feel pain or a pull, stop. Don’t think you can work through it. Stop the exercise and pick up that muscle group again another day. Second, being sore after your workout is OK if it doesn’t interfere with your other daily activities. If you are sore for more than three days, it’s too much. As we get older it takes longer to recover so give yourself at least 3 days before you work the same muscle group. Listen to your body!
Exercise Myth #3 – Exercising using machines is better than free weights
This is a big one and a pet peeve of mine. Exercising on machines does not let you use the small stabilizing muscles and the machines dictate the way you move. As we get older we need to focus on better balance and working the stabilizers. You can do this using dumbbells and cables. If you work out in a gym, you have probably used the leg extension machine; you sit on it and extend your legs out straight. This is a good example of a machine dictating the way you move. You are fixed into place and your knees can only move one way. We all have different Q angles (the angle formed by lines representing the pull of the quadriceps muscle (upper thigh) and the axis of the patellar tendon (lower shin). These should not be forced to go in only one direction. If you have knee pain or back problems stay far away from this machines! If you are afraid you will get hurt or you will do the exercise wrong using dumbbells then hire a trainer – even if it’s just for a couple of sessions.
Exercise Myth #4 – You have to do cardio to lose weight
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It’s funny how things change over time. Years ago when I used to do step aerobics (remember that?) the research said that cardio was the way to weight loss. Do hour long classes and drop the weight. The longer the better. I spent 2 hours, 6 days a week in the gym. I looked good but I was only 21. Well, today that just isn’t true. The research shows otherwise. It’s true that you burn calories while doing cardio and a short time after. If you have ever looked at how many it is depressing. On the elliptical, I only burn about 152 calories for 30 minutes. That’s an apple worth of calories. Weight training rocks when it comes to burning calories! Not just when you are weight training, but 24 hours a day. The more muscle mass you have the more calories you burn. YES! I see this in one of my trainers, Jack. He is a competitive bodybuilder. When he begins dieting for a show he cuts way back on calories but as he is training harder he can eat more (healthy food) and drop body fat like crazy because his metabolic rate is increasing.
I tell my clients to do cardio to exercise your heart and lungs. Do weight training if you want your body to look better and lose weight.
Exercise Myth #5 – You can get great abs by doing 100 crunches a day
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Not! It’s this simple – if you want nice abs you need to build muscle. Why? Because you can’t tone fat. In order to build muscle you need to overload the muscle. This means using your legs as weights or using weights. You can check out some exercises at Elite Physiques. When using your legs or dumbbells as weight, you will only need to do 2 to 3 sets of 10 reps.
I am not a fan of crunches. They cause forward flexion (bad posture) and there is never a reason to do 100 of anything!
Here’s something for you to remember you can work your abs – everyday but in order to see them you will have to eat a clean diet.
It all comes down to being healthy, looking good and feeling good at any age. What you eat is 80 percent or more important than anything else you can do for your health. It’s really simple. Make time everyday for some kind of exercise and just eat real food!
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