Fitness tips are a dime a dozen, with many “experts” claiming that this trick or that will make you faster, leaner or stronger, and probably in the shortest timespan possible.
Yet, how many of them actually work?
While many prove to be hogwash, here are four unconventional fitness tips that actually deserve some attention, and could actually give you some real results.
1. Want to lose weight (and keep it off)? Go easy on the cardio.
There is a horrible misconception about weight loss and cardio. Many people think that doing huge amounts of cardio is the most effective way to lose weight and melt the fat.
In truth, performing too much cardio will put your body in a catabolic state and burn your hard-earned muscle mass.
When you lose muscle, you do not only lose strength, you also reduce your body’s ability to burn calories while at rest. What this means is, you will have an even harder time losing weight and obtaining that tight, toned tummy of your dreams.
There are no hard or fast rules as to how much cardio is too much, but in general, anything over 60 minutes a day is likely going to be counterproductive to your fitness goals. This is especially true if you are not consuming enough protein or calories to support the caloric expenditure.
A more effective way to get into shape would be to get off that treadmill and start picking up some weights to build more muscle mass.
2. Want to build muscular size and strength? Don’t work out too hard.
This is another widespread piece of misinformation – if you are not lying on the floor by the end of a workout, you are not working hard enough.
No thanks to the emergence of popular fitness programmes that dictate that you take every workout and every rep to muscular failure, training till you throw up seems to be the objective for many gym-goers nowadays.
It really doesn’t make you look as hardcore as you think. Also, constantly training to failure doesn’t make your workout more effective or guarantee better or faster results.
In fact, it can be counterproductive because if you constantly train till you fail, you risk overtraining (and negating your hard earned gains) and increasing the risk of joint injuries in the long term.
Don’t get me wrong, though – you do need to train hard and consistently to make optimal progress, but if you train so hard that it affects the quality of your workouts, or causes so much stress on your body that your performance starts to decrease, it’s a bad move.
3. Don’t hit the gym more, sleep more.
Think spending more time at the gym will help you achieve your dream body even sooner? Think again.
Hitting the sack is the real secret to making muscular size and strength gains.
For starters, getting enough sleep helps you power through your training sessions and is absolutely crucial for efficient recovery.
Recovery is one of the most important aspects of your training life, and when you sleep, you give your body a chance to repair, recharge and regrow.
Meanwhile, sleep deficiency can cause low energy levels, diminish alertness and weaken the immune system.
So how much sleep should you be getting? There is no hard and fast rule to this one, but seven to eight hours per night seem to be ideal for most people.
4. Need motivation? Wear red.
Wearing red doesn’t just make you sexier and more attractive to the opposite sex. This intense and powerful colour can cause an energy surge, so you may benefit from wearing clothes in shades of scarlet while exercising.
In 2004, two scientists – Russell Hill and Robert Barton at the University of Durham – sought to investigate if there was a link between wearing red and athletic performance, the BBC reported.
During the 2004 Olympics, boxing and tae kwan do athletes were randomly assigned either red or blue kits, allowing the scientists to compare the same athlete’s performances when they were wearing different colours.
Tracking their progress, the scientists found that those assigned the red kits were about 5% more likely to win than those in blue.
Of course, simply wearing red doesn’t instantly turn you into a better sportsman or an athlete, but if it gives you that extra mental edge or a much-needed psychological boost to get through your workouts (especially after a long, dreary day at work), then it’s worth a shot!
What have you to lose anyway?
Fiona Ho is a certified personal trainer and a competitive strength athlete who derives happiness in lifting heavy objects. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.