6 "Rules" of Exercise for Women You May Not Need to Follow

Posted by Angie Quehl on Jan 18, 2012 3:00:00 PM

It's Not Always Bad to Cheat...

Sometimes NOT playing by the rules is the best thing you can do. Check out the list below to learn how you can "cheat smart" every now and then and still make progress in your fitness program.

1.  Stopping to walk during a run


The verdict: Go for it.

Taking short walk breaks helps you run farther, burn more calories, and sidestep injury, says exercise physiologist Tom Holland, author of Beat the Gym. So whether you're working up to three miles or training for a long-distance event, walking now and then can serve as a useful tool to build up your mileage and endurance. Just make sure you're stopping only two or three times during a 30-minute run, for about 30 to 60 seconds a pop.

2.  Not stretching before a workout

The verdict: Go for it.

While research shows that stretching after a workout can boost strength, prevent injury, and increase range of motion, a 2010 study of almost 1,400 runners found that limbering up before exercise may have few—if any—benefits. To get your blood flowing and muscles prepped, dynamic movements are more effective, says Katie Rothstein, an exercise physiologist at the Orthopedic & Rheumatology Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. Exercises like arm swings and butt kicks increase your joints' range of motion and prime your muscles for action.

3.  Skipping the last three reps

The verdict: Bad idea.

The final reps of a move are where the magic happens. "You have to stress your muscles if you want them to change, and that occurs in those last few reps," says Holland. Your last reps should be tough to finish but not so difficult that you have to compromise your form. If your form starts to suffer early in the set, switch to a lower weight so you won't have to skip the last reps—or hurt yourself trying to push through them.

4.  Resting longer than the prescribed time during a circuit

The verdict: Go for it.linda-perez-johannessen-569925-unsplash (1)

Many circuits call for short rests—usually 30 to 60 seconds—to keep your heart rate high enough to produce a cardio benefit (read: calorie burn). But if you're really struggling after a tough set, tack on an extra 30 seconds of rest, says Rebecca Stephenson, a board-certified women's health specialist in physical therapy at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital. It will give you (and your muscles) enough of a breather to complete the next set with perfect form—without compromising your calorie burn.

5.  Blowing off lower-body strength training

The verdict: Bad idea.

Your leg muscles do get a workout during cardio, but you need to hit the weights (or do squats or lunges) to make sure you're hitting all of your muscle groups. "Muscles work in pairs, and when you stick to one type of cardio, you train only half of the pair," says Holland. "Strength training corrects these imbalances, so you stay injury-free and get great-looking legs to boot."

Supplement your cardio regimen with at least two lower-body or total-body strength training for women workouts a week, or combine strength and cardio by doing plyometric supersets (explosive moves like squat jumps and split lunge jumps done back-to-back without rest), says Holland.

6.  Not drinking H20 during exercise

The verdict: Depends.

Unless you're working out for more than an hour or you're sweating profusely, you can get away with sipping six ounces before and at least 10 ounces after a sweat session, says Rebecca Stephenson, of Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital.



If you are looking for more advice on your fitness routine why not schedule a consultation with one of our wellness coaches. Let our staff of professionals use their extensive experience in developing exercise programs for women to help you reach your health and fitness goals. It's free to do and our pleasure to assist however we can!


Portions of the above article appear in a blog post on www.womenshealthmag.com.

Topics: personal training, fitness tips, fitness for women

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