“Most Common Misconceptions of a Good Workout”

I’ve got some great ideas for your article on common misconceptions of a good workout. I’m both a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Personal Trainer and here is what I see/hear most often:

1) You have to be sore for the workout to be “good.” This is patently false. Soreness is a sign of muscle damage which isn’t in and of itself a bad thing–it’s definitely one of the primary components of muscle growth, however soreness for the sake of being sore is not an indicator of a good workout. 

It makes my skin crawl when I hear other trainers’ clients come in and say something to the effect of, “Man, that workout last week was great! I was sore for 5 days!!” Our job is to make people feel better, not worse. So while some soreness is common, especially at the beginning of a new training regimen (particularly if you haven’t been active in the gym in a while or ever), it is NOT and should not be the primary objective.

2) You have to train like a bodybuilder. This is another one I see all the time.. people HAMMER one muscle group for an hour at a time thinking that’s how you make progress. To a degree, they’re right–Arnold Schwarzenegger and the like obviously change their bodies that way. That said, if you train to look like a statue, you will inevitably move like one. 

In reality, people should train like athletes because well, life is athletic. This doesn’t mean they need to train like they’re prepping for the NFL combine, but a fundamentally sound and thorough training session looks like this:

Self massage/foam roll (restore tissue quality)
Static stretch (restore tissue length)
Joint mobility (increase range of motion)
Dynamic warmup (movement prep)
Power (max effort sprint, box/hurdle jumps, medicine ball throws)
Strength (push, pull, hip dominant, knee dominant, and “anti” core exercises)

All of this generally takes between 60-75 minutes and if done with proper rest periods can fully replace the typical “cardio” portion of any workout.

3) Crunches and russian twists build better, more visible abdominals. Let me say it for the people in the back… ABS ARE MADE IN THE KITCHEN. I see this all the time and sometimes feel like I should step in and say something but I know it’d be unprofessional so I hold myself back. Crunches and russian twists couldn’t be worse for your lumbar spine. Repeatedly squeezing your vertebrae forward or twisting them side to side is hell on your discs and a recipe for disaster (herniated or ruptured discs to be more precise) if you do enough of them. 

Everyone has abs, but your diet largely dictates whether or not you can see them. Instead core work should focus on resisting movement, not creating it, through anti-extension, anti-lateral flexion, and anti-rotation drills like planks (front and side), bear crawls, anti-rotation presses, etc. 

4) Strength training for women will make them bulky or “man-ish.” Absolutely not the case!! This couldn’t be further from the truth. I know scores of women who can do multiple pull-ups in a row (some even muscle ups!!), squat and deadlift twice their bodyweight, etc. and they are NOT bulky by any means. They’re strong and healthy.

In reality it is so hard to “bulk.” The women you see who are able to do that are often using PEDs and are very much unnatural. Strength training is for everyone and should be encouraged, not demonized. In fact you’ll often see that in focusing on strength/performance goals along with proper nutrition, aesthetic goals take care of themselves.

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