So you think you know everything you need to know about working out and maintaining a healthy weight? Take our health and fitness guru quiz, and put your know-how to the test!
True or False.
FALSE. While cardio provides an excellent base if you are just getting into working out, and provides many other health and fitness benefits, if your goal is to lose weight, you are better off spending more of your time lifting weights. Why? Lifting weights with little break between sets and reps elevates your heart rate similar to that of aerobic/cardio workouts. However, with the break down and build up of muscle tissue between strength training workouts, your body uses more calories at rest compared to the recovery your body undergoes with just cardio workouts. TIP: If just starting an exercise routine, begin with a cardio base for at least 2 weeks before adding strength training, to allow your bones, muscles, joints, and other soft tissue to get used to exercise before adding weight. Otherwise, do a cardio warm-up prior to your strength training, and get the bonus of both exercises to kick-start your weight loss!
FALSE. If your goal is to stabilize your core (and isn’t that supposed to be the goal of a “core” workout?), then sit-ups and crunches are the exact wrong exercises to get you to a strong and stable core. Because these exercises work primarily rectus abdominus, an abdominal muscle with vertical muscle fibers that do not connect to your spine, they do very little to assist your body in stabilizing itself during high level activities. Rather, exercises that focus on activating and strengthening transversus abdominus and even the internal and external obliques (the 3 other abdominal muscle groups) along with strengthening the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius are your best bet to guarantee a strong and stable core capable of reducing your injury risk and improving your overall sports performance. See our Build a Better Body series for ideas on how to strengthen the muscles that make up your true “core”.
FALSE. Yes, the nuts and bolts of dieting is calories in, calories out. However, the biggest problem with fast weight loss on a restrictive diet is down the road when the weight is quickly gained back once you return to your normal diet. A better idea would be creating gradual and permanent diet changes, little by little, so your diet can be sustained through future years. Start by making one healthier diet choice per day or per week, such as substituting water for one soda, or chicken for fatty beef servings. Or simply drinking more water each day, or adding soup as a regular meal several times per week. Add an extra vegetable serving every day, or reduce your juice consumption. Switch from white pasta to wheat pasta. Reduce dessert servings and portion sizes. Cut out unhealthy snacks and replace with nuts or fruit. There are lots of ideas that will add up to calorie savings, plus you will feel better, and still have enough calories in your diet to give you energy to work out, the other key component to any weight loss and weight maintenance program. And most importantly, you will not feel deprived, and your body will not feel like it is starving, which will increase your hunger and slow your metabolism.
FALSE. The most recent exercise science research reduces the emphasis on stretching before exercising as a method of reducing injury risk. In fact, research has shown that holding long, sustained stretches prior to working out can reduce performance, i.e., speed of sprinting intervals, max squat weight, and jumping height/distance. Are stretches even useful? Yes, as stretching after your workout, especially after weight training, will allow your muscles to cool down at a longer resting length than not stretching at all. This longer resting length will reduce your susceptibility to injury between and during future workouts.
FALSE. While it may prove to be quite a rush to see your weight plummet by 5 pounds the first week of your new “diet,” fasting or cleansing with very low calories and no additional hydration will simply deprive your body of calories, slowing your metabolism, and water, which may actual lead to bloating as your body tries to maintain an appropriate hydration level for cellular function. Our bodies thrive on water; weight loss beyond 1-2 pounds per week is likely caused by dehydration, which is a temporary state causing fatigue, lack of concentration, headaches, and reduced exercise performance, and weight loss from dehydration will be gained again in future days and weeks once your body can return to its normal level of hydration. Any “cleanse” health benefits may have a psychological effect, but the body already has organs in place to cleanse out impurities from our diet and environment. If you search pubmed.com, the medical research site, there is no medical research study supporting the use of cleanses, unless you are prepping for a colonoscopy.