46

Exercise Myth #2 – It’s Best to Train to Failure

For those who think training to failure is a good thing, answer this question: ‘In what sport is it advantageous to train to failure?’ Think about it – are you going to hit tennis balls until your body fails to swing the racket, or are you going to stop practicing when you start to lose your form and effectiveness? It’s common practice to stop training when you lose effectiveness in all sports. Furthermore, who wants to train with the mindset of ‘training to failure’? Most people would never dream of ‘training to failure’ in other areas of life. So, why do people use this erroneous philosophy in the gym?

Jerry Stackhouse using proper form at OTransformation.com studio in Raleigh, NC

Is Proper Form
missing in your workout?

Proper Form or Failure?

When strength training, many people want to ‘burn out’ every set or at least one set every workout. Some use the argument that you don’t break down your muscle enough when you stop before burning out. It’s ludicrous to think that your form will stay perfect when you reach the point of failure. Trust me, I’ve seen thousands of people do it, and it ain’t pretty. Many people often injure themselves by training this way. At the very least, you actually weaken your tendon and connective tissue strength and stability over time. This defeats the very purpose of ‘strength training.’ I can attest to this first hand.

Training to Failure and Injury

When I was in high school, I trained very hard in the weight room to perform better on the playing field. However, I trained by the notion that it was always good to train to failure. I often compromised the quality of the movement for quantity of repetitions. Over the course of 2 years, my strength dropped and my shoulders began to weaken by training this way. I could actually feel the weakness. I eventually had a complete dislocation of my right shoulder while playing football. Even though the actual injury occurred on the football field, I caused the shoulder weakness and stability problems from improper training, which led to the injury.

Work on Flawless Technique when Exercising

Thus, my advice is to focus on flawless technique when exercising or strength training, and put the weight down or stop the exercise when you are no longer able to maintain perfect form. If you don’t know what perfect form is, educate yourself or seek the help of a qualified personal trainer or strength specialist. Injuries stink, but most are preventable.

38

Exercise Myth #1 – Fitness Machines Are Better than Functional Training

Walk in most gyms across America and what do you see? You see lots of high-tech, “state-of-the-art” machines lined up from wall to wall. People have their headphones on, and are mindlessly pumping out repetitions on these machines or they are going to town on some cardiovascular contraption. Despite using all of the fancy equipment, people are often left bored and frustrated with a lack of real results – dysfunctional from a physical performance perspective. Evidence of this is seen in the sharp drop-off of attendance of gym members after just the first month where nearly 50% of gym-goers stop going all together. This brings one to question, “Is there something wrong with all of these people or is there something wrong with their method?”

Weightlifting and fitness machines in gym

More and more top coaches and athletes are shying away from machine-based weight workouts and finding alternative training methods. Weight machines are often ineffective training tools because they focus on isolation exercises. Relying exclusively on machines for strength training may actually limit sports performance and increase injury risk.

Treadmill running workout

Whether you want to ski better, play more golf or chase your kids around the park, you need better balance and stronger legs. Exercises that mimic everyday movements create functional strength; enhancing everyday activities, finally answering the question “what are you training for?”

Principles of Functional Exercise Training:

Integration vs. isolation –

Strength training on machines works muscles in isolation-although it’s rare that your muscles would be required to work in isolation in any other situation. Functional training, on the other hand, removes the support provided by machines, requiring the body to work multiple muscle groups in integration, as the body is intended to move, resulting in more balanced muscle tone.

Reaction vs. injury –

Functional training is “reactive” teaching muscles to “fire” in a pattern, with primary “moving” muscles and secondary “stabilizing” muscles working in sequence to execute movement. This integration engages strong, stable “core” muscles aiding in balance. The result? Your body attains equilibrium between strength and flexibility, between agonist and antagonist muscles, increasing functionality while reducing risk of injury.

Balance vs. bulk –

Bodybuilder lifting weights

Concerned about developing large and bulky muscles? Functional training techniques help you create a leaner, tighter and more-integrated physique. Machine-centered training, and an isolated body-building style of training for 8-15 repetitions per set generally will cause what is known as sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, where the belly of the muscle increases in size, causing unnatural “bulking” of the muscle.

Multi- vs. limited movement –

Your body performs along forward, backward, rotational and diagonal planes of movement everyday. A lack of balanced strength along these planes will result in injury-such as a twinge in your back when picking up a suitcase or indulging in your first golf game of the season.

To be fair, machines do have a place in rehab and training, when muscle isolation, or the ability to control movement, speed, direction and intensity is desired. Machines are also useful for novice exercisers who may need a very structured program of movement to build some very basic strength. Machines can also have a role in “bulking” up the body with muscle for unspecified strength. Obviously, body builders will want as much muscle as possible, and aren’t as concerned with how that muscle performs precise, athlete movements. But functional training should be the core of a fitness program for anyone who wants to develop an athletic body along with strength, skill, agility and balance for sports (and life) outside the gym.

If you’re interested in the right kind of workout – functional personal training that will guarantee quick, effective and long-lasting results, contact us at The Organic Transformation in Raleigh, NC for a fitness consultation and let us design an exercise program for you that works!