Online exercise has become a lifeline for exercising during the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s always a good idea to have as many options for exercise as possible. This challenging time is an opportunity to find new ways to exercise when time and equipment are limited. I am hearing from many people how they are discovering old favorites and new ways to exercise.
In the last blog we covered what to look for in acardio online exercise program. Today, we will look at what to avoid and what to look for in a strength exercises online.
What to avoid in strength exercises
- Exercises that target certain areas like triceps, core, thighs. These are most likely to waste your time and put your body in positions that increase the risk of injury. The biggest benefit to strength training for weight loss is the overall metabolism boost that strength training provides. It does this better than other types of exercise, as long as you challenge a large amount of your muscle mass in the right way. Target exercises use small amounts of muscle mass. Since your body does not burn fat directly from the area you are exercising, focusing on target areas means you are most likely missing out on the metabolism boosting benefits. Words like ‘tone’, ‘firm’, ‘slim’ or ‘tighten’ are great red flags the exercise is based more on what is marketable than what is science based. Examples of marketing based exercise include sit ups (any variety), triceps exercises (dips, overhead, kickbacks), leg lifts meant for toning thighs, and twists (for ‘love handles’).
- Core workouts, are popular to reduce back pain and because of the belief that they will give you a flat stomach or get rid of belly fat. Yet many exercises, like sit ups and planks, actually strain rather than strengthen your back. As we discussed above, exercising a certain part of your body wont burn more fat in that area. Your core muscles are not designed to be movers, they are there to stabilize the center of your body while moving your arms and legs. Core exercises like sit ups and crunches and planks do not reduce belly fat, and ask your body to move in ways it was not designed. Click here for more information about how to strengthen your core.
- Workouts that start at a high intensity are most likely to leave you feeling sore. There is absolutely no evidence that muscle soreness has a benefit for your body. No pain no gain is a term for athletes how have to endure pain to overcome the competition. If you want to be healthy, you don’t need to be in pain to get more benefits from exercise. More importantly, your brain is hardwired to avoid what feels uncomfortable. That ‘great workout that left you with a good sore’, is really telling your brain to start making excuses why you cannot do it again and again. Be wary of any program that has a ‘jump start’ to get quicker results.
What to look for in an online strength program
- Exercises that mimic movements your body needs to do in daily life such as lifting overhead, stepping, squatting, pulling, pushing are all movements your body has to do in daily life. You will be using more muscle mass with each exercise and this is what will help keep your metabolism up so you are more likely lose more fat overall, rather than targeting certain areas and using less muscle in the hope it will burn fat in certain areas of your body.
- Exercises that incorporate your core into each exercise, rather than strengthen it separately. this not only saves you time but teaches your body to work together, with your core keeping your whole body strong.
- Exercises that start at a very light level because strength comes from muscle memory. Your brain is what coordinates all the muscle fibers to work together so you can be strong. Starting at a lower resistance gives your body time to build strong muscle memory so when you do challenge those muscle fibers, your body is ready. Skip this vital step to improving strength is like building a house with a weak foundation, its not likely to last.
If you are a weight center patient, email me at Janet.Huehls@umassmemorial.org for information about our free online course for strength training.
Keep Moving, Be Well,