Full-body workout still the best way to train

This week, I come to you from a coffee shop in a town outside Milwaukee, as family, friends and future in-laws are going crazy preparing for my little brother’s wedding.

Why am I doing this, instead of participating in the craziness? Aside from finding an excuse to escape the insanity, it’s because I was too busy to do it earlier, just like I’m sure you were too busy to make it to the gym at some point in your recent past.

But before you get too busy to continue, let’s spend a few moments taking a sledgehammer to a few fitness myths.

Myth No. 1: Traditional body
split routines are the only way to work out.

Speaking of being busy, if you’re struggling to get to the gym, then you shouldn’t be doing body split routines. That’s when you focus only on certain muscles groups each time you work out. If you’ve ever heard someone say that that day is their leg day, than that means they’re just working out their legs.

The problem I see with that is what if your leg day is Thursday, and this coming Thursday, you have something going on for work that you can’t miss? Or you’re going to be out of town and won’t get to do your leg workout.

If you’re doing a full body workout – which burns more calories than a body split, by the way – every other day, three times a week, but that big work meeting is going to cause you to miss a day, that’s OK. You’ve worked out your entire body two other days this week already. Give yourself a gold star.

“Most people don’t want to spend every day in the gym,” said Shelby Young, one of the personal trainers at Hampshire Hills Sports & Fitness Club. “If they only have an hour three times a week, then it should be spent training the entire body for maximum benefits to be reaped.”

Myth No. 2: Cardio burns calories faster than weight training.

When I started working with Young, I asked if I was short on time and had to choose between my weight training and cardio, which should I go with? He wasted little time in telling me to skip the cardio.

A study done a few years back by scientists at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver looked at which method of exercise burned more calories without changing diet.

The researcher got a group of volunteers, some of whom were lean and athletic, some of whom were lean and sedentary, and some of whom were obese and sedentary. Each was put in a “walk-in calorimeter” to measure how many calories they burned in a 24-hour period.

Each person spent a period at rest, doing cardio and doing weight training, with the researchers looking for “afterburn,” or how many calories the subjects lost after they were done exercising.

It turned out that when doing cardio, the subjects barely lost more calories post-workout than when they were at rest. After the weight training, there was a greater afterburn.

Myth No. 3: Lifting weights will make a woman bulky, so she should only lift light weights for high repetitions.

That’s potentially a big waste of time, Young said.

“At best, the only thing that will develop is muscular endurance,” he said. “At worst, it will be a waste of time, which develops tendonitis and other overuse injuries.”

Joe Marchilena writes a weekly fitness column for Hampshire Hills. For more information about the “90 Day Commit to Get Fit” program, call 673-7123 or email hhinfo@hampshirehills.com.