One of the most common excuses very good reasons people skip out on exercise is the time squeeze. But how valid is that excuse?
Unless your boss gives you the day off to work out, your spouse is cool with doing 100% of the house chores, or you have zero obligations, somehow, then you’d have enough time for that 30-minute workout.
Having said that, there are likely certain workout practices that you swear by, because everyone else is doing it. And who are you to question everyone else/the general consensus?
Many of these unwritten laws of exercise are actually time-wasting myths. Knowing which fitness rules to follow, and which to kick aside, will have you working out smarter and more efficiently. Not only will your fitness results improve, your schedule will be afforded that much-needed breathing room.
These are three unwritten laws of the gym you can liberate yourself from.
Law #1: All cardio workouts are created equal.
There are cardio workouts, and there are high-intensity, interval cardio workouts. If you’re looking for quantum gains in your fitness and endurance, the latter cardio workout is what you should concern yourself with.
Intervals work by pushing your body to its absolute max, followed by a brief recovery period, and then back to work again. Interval training works out all of your body’s energy systems – anaerobic and aerobic – which facilitates fast fat loss. Your aerobic fitness improvement will allow you to work out harder and longer than if you would through steady-state cardio training.
For a quick and easy interval routine on any machine, work to your maximum exertion for 20 seconds, recover for 10, then repeat eight times over four minutes. Your pace should be your absolute total effort, where you can’t go another second past the 20.
Related: What are ‘LISS’ and ‘HIIT’ Workouts?
With the intensity of the sessions, you only need to do them 2-3 times per week, freeing up time for other exercises or life obligations.
Law #2: Cardio is king.
Is there a better feeling than grabbing the last open treadmill or elliptical during the daily post-work gym rush?
You bet there is – you could avoid those machines altogether.
Minute by minute, strength training has been proven to be better than cardio to prevent weight gain, according to a 2015 Harvard study that followed exercisers for over a decade.
Strength training’s largest advantage comes from its increasing of our overall metabolic rate. This is due to the fact that how many calories you burn – even when not exercising – is based on your level of lean muscle mass. Utilizing strength training over cardio roughly three times per week will provide maximum fat-loss results.
Law #3: You must lift weights for 10+ reps per set.
“The heavier you lift, the more challenging each exercise is going to be, the higher your heart will get elevated, the more calories you will burn both during and after your workout, the more your body composition will improve, and the stronger you’ll get,” explains LA-based personal trainer Mike Donavanik, C.S.C.S., C.P.T.
Not to mention, it’s a time-saver lifting six reps rather than 12.
For noticeable gains in muscle and strength, you don’t need to be transfixed to that elusive #10. Less reps, but with a focus on getting stronger with each set, is far more beneficial; try three sets of eight reps, four sets of six reps, or even five sets of two reps. You should struggle to complete the final rep, just eeking it out (with the correct form, of course). Heavy weight lifting doesn’t cause injury – poor form while weight lifting does.
You Might Also Like: Five Hydration Myths Debunked