Fit Tip Friday: It’s Not Always Black & White

Happy Friday Friends!

I hope everyone had a good week! I’ve been a busy bee getting ready for my final personal training evaluation on Monday creating programs, organizing client files, and developing a marketing package. I handed it all in yesterday so now I just have to make sure I can instruct the programs properly and I’m set! Provided I passed the final PT exam I wrote last Monday, I’m DONE! The exam was really challenging and it will still be another week or two until I receive my results, so until then I’ll just stress out about whether or not I passed. I mean relax and take things as they come šŸ˜‰

As I’m getting closer to becoming certified I’ve been getting asked more and more questions by friends and family, which I totally love! If any of you are reading this and have anything you’re itching to know, or just want to gab about stuff, hit me up! I could talk about this shit for days. Anyway, a lot of these questions start with “which is better….?” Another common one is “Is it wrong if….” As if the world of health and fitness isn’t already confusing enough, a lot of the time there isn’t really a right or wrong answer to these questions. There may be more effective options and less effective options, but it’s not always black and white.

Let’s take a recent question I received about cardio as an example. Is it better to do cardio before or after weight training? Well, that depends on a few things.

  • Is your main focus to improve your cardiovascular endurance? Are you looking reduce your 10km time, develop a more powerful sprint, or be able to run uphill faster? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it would be more effective for you to do cardio BEFORE weight training, while your muscles are still full of glycogen, ie. energy.
  • Is your main focusing increasing your muscular strength (being able to lift heavier weights), increasing your muscular endurance (being able perform more reps in a set), or increasing muscular hypertrophy (GAINZ FOR DAYS!)? If yes, it would be most effective to work towards these goals first before hoppin’ on that treadmill.
  • Are you looking to lose bodyfat? Up until recently, I was always under the impression that performing cardio before weight training was more effective for fat loss. In my mind, cardio stoked the “fat-burning fire” if you will, and put my body into calorie-torching mode before hitting the weights. Wellllllllllll, I was wrong. In reality, if you use up the majority of your body’s carb stores during your lifting session your body will turn to its fat stores for energy, assuming you aren’t starving yourself and actually have carb and fat stores to turn to. Sounds good when we’re looking to ditch the bodyfat, no? In addition, by putting more energy into your lifting session you will have greater chances of increasing your muscle mass, and just by having muscle you will naturally burn through more fat. But that’s a whoooole other topic on its own, which I touched on a bit here.

Get where I’m going here? Even if you are wanting to build muscle, there’s nothing WRONG with doing cardio first. Your results may come a bit slower or may not be as substantial, but you’re still out there movin’ your body which is better than nothing at all! Another thing to take into consideration is what you enjoy. If you genuinely like doing cardio first and are going to end up half-assing it if you wait until you’re done weight training…you need better discipline. Kidding. Kind of.

You can have a great exercise program all planned out that will get you to your goals in no time, but if you hate everything and aren’t going to do it properly, what’s the point? When you’re driven by a goal, whether it’s running a marathon, benching 300lbs, or losing weight, it’s in your best interest to act in accordance with your goals. But nothing says you can’t have goals AND still live the fit life for enjoyment. I’m currently trying to build muscle mass, which in theory would be best achieved with minimal cardio and a surplus of calories. However, I ENJOY cardio (fucked up, right?), so now and then I park my ass on a spin bike for 30 minutes, go for a run, or do some HIIT. And as much as I love eating a surplus of calories, I don’t love the inevitable weight gain that comes with it, so I eat a moderate amount of food. My progress is slower than it would be if I didn’t do these things, but slow progress is still progress and I’m having fun while doing it!

As always, there are some exceptions to all of this. When it comes to form, there can be right form and wrong form. Performing a deadlift with a rounded back is wrong (and unsafe), whereas performing a deadlift with a nice neutral spine is right. Doing things other than squats in the squat rack is WRONG (take note here, people!!!!), while doing a squat in the squat rack is right. But in general, it’s time we let go of trying to figure out whether we’re doing things the wrong way or the right way, eating the good foods or the bad foods, following the right diet or the wrong diet. The moral of the story here is that something may be more effective for you and your goals at this present time, but as your priorities change or you make progress these things may become less effective and others may become more so.

I know this post has gone up and down and here and there and all over the damn place, but that’s what fitness is like! It can be confusing knowing how to train, what foods to eat, what to do and what not to do, but learning what works best for you and your body is all part of the process. While there are some general guidelines, we all respond to things differently. If you have the patience you can take the time to do some research and experiment on yourself to see what works and what doesn’t. It really is fascinating gaining all of this knowledge about your body. But if that couldn’t sound more boring to you, it may be wise to seek the assistance of a personal trainer or nutritionist. We do our best to take the guesswork out of it for you.

Have you ever had anybody tell you you’re doing things wrong and it made you want to kick them in the teeth? Or maybe you were less aggressive and just got confused? Tell me about it!

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