There are a couple of workout rules that are rules for a reason, like stretch before your sessions, take adequate rest and listen to your body. Then, there are others that are more opinions that have been turned into ‘fact’ due to constant proliferation on the internet. And sometimes, they can actually do you more harm than good! Read on for the 6 fitness ‘rules’ you can feel free to ignore.
1. ‘Always give 110%’
Of course, giving maximum effort in your workouts is going to accelerate your results. But here’s the thing—not every single session has to be your hardest, nor do you need to hit PBs every time. In fact, giving 110% every single day can actually result in you burning out from overexercise. Some days, it’s just about showing up. It’s always going to be better to have done a little bit of exercise—even it’s just a 20 minute —walk, than nothing at all.
2. ‘No pain, no gain’
Here’s one workout rule you should definately ignore. Yes, you should feel a burn when you’re working out, especially if you’re doing strength training. But it’s important to know the difference between lactic acid—that burning sensation you get in your muscles when you’re working out—and actual pain. Learn to listen to your body and stop when something doesn’t feel right—especially if it feels like it’s in the bone or joints. The idea that you have to be sore after every workout is a myth, too. Post workout-soreness is your body’s way of telling you it needs recovery and it normally happens when you start a new style of training. However, you can still get results even if you’re not getting sore every time.
3. ‘Never eat before a workout’
Chances are, this one originated with the whole ‘wait 30 minutes after you eat before you swim’ myth. There’s no reason you have to work out on an empty stomach. In fact, eating beforehand can help fuel your recovery, as well as assist with recovery and gains afterwards. The key is to make sure you’re eating the right things. The experts recommending staying away from anything too heavy that is going to lead to indigestion and bloating and instead, going for a mix of slow releasing carbs and protein.
The thinking behind this one is that using the machines incorrectly at the gym can lead to injury and that you get a better range of motion by exercising with free weights. However, there’s nothing inherently wrong with using the machines at the gym. In fact, they can be excellent starting point for beginners, and some are specifically targeted to train some of those more specific muscle groups, like the hamstrings.
5. ‘You need to have protein within an hour of your workout’
Yes, it’s essential to eat protein after your workout in order to replenish the glycogen stores in the muscle. However, the window is probably bigger than you think. While the conventional wisdom is that you have to eat consume protein within 30-60 minutes of your workout, doing it a few hours after your workout is just fine, too.
6. ‘Train only one body part at a time’
It’s very bodybuilder logic to think you have to train only one body part a time. And yes, dedicating a whole session to each does help to ensure you’re hitting all your major muscle groups. However, there’s no scientific reason you have to work out this way. If you prefer to do full-body workouts or focus on a couple of muscle groups at a time, that’s going to be just as effective.