There are so many fitness myths out there that it would require an encyclopedia to refute them all. Since I don’t have the time to write an encyclopedia, it makes a lot more sense to refute some of the most common fitness myths:
1) Junk miles – This is a common myth among many competitive runners. “Junk” miles are basically when a runner runs significantly slower than usual, which can be very disappointing for many runners. Some runners believe these miles don’t really count or they might as well just take a day off from running if all they are capable of is running “junk” miles.
However, running at any speed can help maintain your edge or your level of cardiovascular fitness. You don’t have to run fast every time you are out there. It’s perfectly normal to find yourself in a rut of under-performance every now and then, especially after very long runs or races. If the slowness lasts more than a week though, it could indicate a problem, especially if it is accompanied by soreness or an injury. “Junk” miles are often used an an excuse to not run outside in hot, or wet weather -“Why bother running in the rain if I will only be running junk miles?”
2) Running and cardio will cause you to lose muscle – This is a myth that is common among body-builders. Some are absolutely cardio-phobic. This myth prevents many people from having a more well-rounded fitness routine.
However, as long you eat enough, get enough rest, recover properly, and don’t overdo it, cardio won’t cause you to lose a significant amount of muscle. A good rule of thumb is to do strength-training first, and do cardio after. Doing strength-training first programs the body to prioritize muscle building for that day; doing cardio first will cause the body to prioritize cardiovascular fitness.
There are still a lot of areas of fitness where there aren’t clear cut answers, but not when it comes to these two common myths.
Posted in fitness, joggling, Juggling, nutrition, running, trails/outdoors
Tagged body-building, cardio causes you to lose muscle, cardio-phobia, cardio-phobic, do strength-training first, exercise myths, fitness myths, junk miles, junk miles are not junk, muscle growth, muscle wasting, strength training, which exercise to do first
While going for a long, pleasant joggle in the wintry woods north of the Big Apple yesterday, I was very mindful of how much of a better joggler I am because I strength train my legs. Hills for instance aren’t a big deal and I actually enjoy them, even the steep, rocky ones that make me drop balls.
For some strange reason, many runners do little to no strength training of their legs. A few I’ve known even seem to be hostile to the idea, seeing themselves as cardio purists who scoff at the idea of doing strength training exercise. This is unfortunate, since this may increase the risk of various injuries, besides making hills more difficult.
Strength training the legs is as simple as strapping some ankle weights around your ankles, and doing leg lifts while lying on the floor on your back. If you have access to a gym, there are so many other things you can do to strengthen your legs. And this only needs to be done 2 to 3 times a week.
This takes care of most of your lower body muscles, except for the hips. Runner’s World had a great article on hip-strengthening exercises a few years ago – All in the Hips
The resistance band exercises the Runner’s World article recommends are very helpful. I used to forget to exercise my hips, but I find I can go up rocky hills faster now due to regularly exercising my hip muscles. I even came close to spraining my ankle yesterday while joggling through a rocky wooded area. I think my strong hip muscles may have prevented it from getting worse.
This study suggests doing hip exercises can prevent injury – Hip muscle weakness and overuse injuries in recreational runners.’
Although no cause-and-effect relationship has been established, this is the first study to show an association between hip abductor, adductor, and flexor muscle group strength imbalance and lower extremity overuse injuries in runners. Because most running injuries are multifaceted in nature, areas secondary to the site of pain, such as hip muscle groups exhibiting strength imbalances, must also be considered to gain favorable outcomes for injured runners. The addition of strengthening exercises to specifically identified weak hip muscles may offer better treatment results in patients with running injuries.
I already mentioned how I use resistance bands for strength training, using them primarily for upper body exercise, while also doing push-ups, and bicycle crunches.
Here are some other things I use for strength(or resistance) training:
Use a walker to do dips: Just like the dip bars at the gym, you can use a walker to do the same thing. Great for improving upper body strength.
Juggle with heavy balls: These balls are tennis balls that were stuffed with pennies and sealed shut with epoxy and duct tape. Not only do they help strengthen the muscles used for juggling, their weight may also make a deeper imprint on muscle memory so that I juggle better. They weigh 1 pound each, which isn’t much but after several minutes it does get tiring.
Ankle weights: A necessity for building strength in the legs for runners. But they shouldn’t be used while running, that can increase the risk of injury. This is the All-Pro brand, I’ve had them for almost 10 years and they have served me well. The velcro has deteriorated a bit unfortunately, but it’s not a major problem.
Medicine ball: This helps build explosiveness, especially when you throw it. You can also do a variety of lifts with this to help build ab muscles. I made this myself, it’s just a basketball full of sand. It weighs about 23 lbs.
Hand exerciser: Jogglers need to have strong hands!
If anyone has any recommendations for equipment or strength-training exercises, please let me know.
Posted in equipment, exercise, fitness, joggling
Tagged ab exercises, ankle weights, dip bars, hand exerciser, leg lifts, medicine ball, muscle, resistance training, strength training, vegan fitness, walker
This sounds almost too good to be true, but research suggests that people who fidget a lot tend to be slimmer than those who do not fidget.
What this means is that every little bit of exercise helps. Even if you are sitting, tapping your feet or moving around a lot can help burn calories. If possible, stand rather than sit. Losing weight is easier if you approach fitness as a lifestyle, not as an activity.
Other ways to make fitness a lifestyle and not just an activity:
Take the stairs instead of the elevator
Walk instead of taking the car
Can’t or don’t want to go to a gym? Use resistance bands. You can even bring them with you to work(along with your juggling balls), where you can do a quick resistance workout that is practically the same as if you are lifting weights.
I also think it is important to avoid negative people who may try to sabotage your weight-loss efforts.
Of course twiddling your thumbs or taking the stairs can’t replace the recommended 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise we need to be fit and prevent disease. And you don’t even have to do the 30 minutes all at once either. You can divide it up – 10 minutes in the morning, 20 later in the day. 10 minutes seems to be the magic number for a bout of cardio to really count as exercise, so if you divide your time for exercise, do at least 10 minutes at a time.
Above all, make sure you enjoy your exercise. Do not think of it as punishment. You were born to move!
Posted in equipment, exercise, fitness, health, Juggling
Tagged aerobic exercise, cardio, fat, fidget, fidgeting, obesity, resistance bands, resistance exercise, stairs, strength training, weight, weight loss
The 6 pack is the Holy Grail sought by countless exercisers. Very few ever achieve it. An entire cottage industry within the fitness industry is dedicated to it, spawning many scams and myths. The myth of spot reduction is one of the most pervasive of these myths. Very often, it seems trying to achieve a 6 pack is more of a vanity project than something done to improve athletic performance; once the core is strong enough(even if the 6 pack is not visible), any additional strength is superfluous or may even weigh you down if you’re a runner.
The truth of the matter is that the abs don’t need to be exercised all that much to improve core strength. In fact, the core is strengthened even when doing resistance exercises that do not target the abdominal muscles. That said, it can still be helpful to include some ab exercises in your fitness routine to build core strength, especially if you sit a lot or have poor posture. Don’t forget to exercise the hips too.
According to research sponsored by the American Council on Exercise, the best ab exercise is the bicycle maneuver. This exercise requires no special equipment and is relatively easy to do. Many other exercises on the best ab exercise list do require equipment, but they are not as beneficial as the bicycle maneuver. So if you want killer abs so people will worship you on the beach, there is no need to waste money on ab devices(some of which are scams).
The bicycle maneuver is a type of crunch or semi-crunch. Ordinarily, I do not advocate crunches or sit-ups since I believe they are bad for the back. However, this maneuver requires very little forward movement of the upper body, so it appears to be safe for the back.
As far as joggling is concerned, it definitely requires a little more core and upper body strength than regular running. It is possible that joggling may help build more core strength than regular running, especially if you joggle with heavy balls(hopefully far away from other people). Also, juggling or joggling with heavy balls may be better for losing weight than juggling with very light balls.
I am not saying joggling will give you killer 6 pack abs, only that it may be better than just running if you want to improve core strength and stability. And it’s more fun!
Posted in equipment, exercise, fitness, joggling, running
Tagged 6 pack, 6 pack abs, ab devices, ab exercises, abdominal exercises, abs, American Council on Exercise, back, best ab exercise, bicycle maneuver, core, core exercises, core strength, crunches, fitness myths, fitness scams, fun, Holy Grail, killer abs, myths, posture, resistance training, scams, sit-ups, six pack, six pack abs, spot reduction, strength training, weight loss