Have you ever been to the gym and wondered what the hell you’re actually doing there? If you take the time to look around you’ll quickly realize that there are over 100 pieces of equipment in your average gym. This can be quite confusing and even frustrating at times. Furthermore, there’s always that one guy in the weight room who looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger and has probably been lifting weights since before he even came out the womb.
So many “average Joes” look up to this guy like he is god, but is this guy even healthy? I mean, honestly, can the guy even move? In a day and age where there are so many workouts, pre-workouts, post-workouts, Zumba, cross-fit, shake weights, and many other alternatives, there are actually a few time-proven methods to keep your body healthy. I’m here to tell you to skip the extra set of bench press and to spend your time doing something much more beneficial for your body.
Lift Lighter Weights
One of the most effective strategies to keep your body fit and strong is lifting light to medium weights. It is widely accepted by health professionals around the world that lifting light to medium weights two or three times a week is great for your body. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans says that “adults should do some sort of light lifting at least two times per week targeting all major muscle groups to garner the most health benefits.”
Lifting lighter weights allows your body to tear down muscle fibers without putting excess strain on yourself. For example, an in-experienced lifter would get much more benefits from bench pressing 85-105 pounds with perfect form, instead of cranking their back to lift 135 pounds. There is a common misperception that the more you lift the stronger you are, this may hold true in certain instances but most of the time people are doing more harm than good.
Look, this doesn’t apply to everyone. If you have the strength of Marshawn Lynch, good for you. Continue to do your thing. But to the everyday guy out there, don’t hurt yourself trying to lift more than what feels comfortable. I can guarantee that the extra ten pounds or one final rep, will not improve your love life. In fact, it may do the exact opposite. If you overdo it at the gym, you’ll be exhausted the rest of the day, which will decrease productivity in whatever you are trying to accomplish. Remember, the whole point of going to the gym is to boost your energy levels, not deplete them.
The next and in my opinion most important part of any workout is to stretch. Stretching is often the most overlooked aspect of gym life. First off, it plain and simple feels good. I dare anyone reading this article to stretch for 20-30 minutes and tell me they don’t feel more relaxed than they did before. Stretching keeps the body limber, prevents injury, and helps to boost circulation. Now I’m not saying that you need to be that guy who can magically bend his body into a pretzel, but it is vital that you spend at least some time stretching.
A simple way to remember your whole body is to start from the top and work your way to the bottom. In other words, start with your head and neck, move to your spine, torso, core, and back, and then finish with your legs, butt, ankles, and even feet. Honestly, I don’t know how to stretch out my feet but it sounded cool writing it so I’m going to stand behind it.
In all seriousness, stretching is something that you don’t want to miss out on. Many times, people make fun of that guy who spends extra time stretching but really, he should be the one laughing back at you. If you want to be that “cool guy” then this article may not be for you. But if you want to stay healthy and limber, stretch it out.
Differences Between Yoga and Tai Chi
Another beneficial thing for your body is yoga, tai chi or something else along these lines. The benefits of these ancient artforms are literally endless. They range from improving flexibility, building muscle strength and can even improve bone health. But here is where my advice is probably going to differ from many other experts. Find the right match for you! I’ve heard so many times that yoga is the be all, end all to life. And for some people that may be true. However, for me, every time I try yoga, I feel like I nearly break my neck and cause more harm than good.
Due to my infantile yoga skills I switched to tai chi. Tai chi turned out to be the perfect fit for me. If you don’t know what tai chi is, it is movements that represent the yin and yang of energy. It really is unexplainable unless you try it for yourself. The light relaxed movements are a great way to enhance physical fitness while also improving mental clarity. Another beautiful thing about tai chi is that you can literally complete a session in 5 to 10 minutes and feel the benefits for hours.
Now you may be wondering to yourself what is the difference between yoga and tai chi. From my personal experience yoga involves much more stretching and flexibility, while tai chi is soft controlled movements. The huge similarity between the two artforms is the breathing. Breathing is the basis for both of these workouts which allows for further relaxation beyond just the movements. I am not here to tell you what is right for your body, but give both of these artforms a try and do what feels right to you. Not what you think is right, but what feels right is the key element here.
All in all, if you are going to takeaway one piece of information from this article it is to do what feels right for your body. No personal trainer, infomercial, or piece of machinery knows what is right for you, only you can decide that for yourself. And just remember if you’re asking how much you can bench bro, or do you even lift? You’re probably doing it wrong and definitely need a hug.
Know any other tips on the right way to workout? Let us know down in the comments.