There’s a lot of health and fitness information out there, so it is easy to get confused. Luckily for us, Sam Merza, national fitness manager at Genesis Health + Fitness has shared the training secrets from some of the best in the biz.
As trainers, we often see that certain myths and misconceptions are holding people back from reaching their goals as easily and quickly as they could. And sometimes, in more extreme cases, they’re putting themselves at risk of injury or going backward, further away from their goals.
Little tweaks can often make a big difference, so it pays to pick the brains of your trainers and coaches.
From some of the best in the fitness and health business, here are 10 training secrets you should know, but probably don’t.
1. You’re not squatting deep enough
“The squat is something that so many of us use as part of our exercise program, but chances are you’re not getting maximum benefit from it because you’re not squatting deep enough,” says personal trainer Shannon Slater.
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“Some people struggle getting deep into a squat but you can improve your technique by slightly elevating your heels with small weight plates, or similar. This allows more range of motion in the ankles allowing you to get deeper without forcing your hips to hinge and bringing your chest forward.”
2. How to burn fat
Strength training is more efficient at burning fat than cardio training. This is such a common misconception,” says Tim Hatchard, a PT manager with 14 years of experience.
“So make sure you include strength work in your overall approach.”
3. New habits > motivation levels
“Don’t rely on your motivation levels,” says Carissa Moss, a functional and small group training coach with 15 years of experience.
“Motivation will always come and go, it lets us down and we just end up in an unhealthy and inconsistent cycle with our training, food, sleep, everything! Instead rely on creating new habits through organisation – schedule your training, do your meal prep ahead of time and schedule your bedtime so you get enough sleep.”
4. Eating less won’t give you better results
“Eating less isn’t going to give you better results. It might seem like eating less will be the best way to lose weight, but that isn’t always the case,” says Merza.
“Understanding how ‘starvation’ can affect our bodies is really important. Eat too little and it limits your body’s ability to adapt to exercise (tone up), while risking your hormone balance and increasing your risk of injury. Food balance is key for all goals.”
5. Can those pre-workout drinks
“Ditch the pre-workout energy drinks, the chemical content is always unknown and can affect people differently,” says Tarnia Smith, group fitness and club manager with 18+ years of experience.
“Instead, drink a coffee with a spoon full of coconut oil (energy-dense MCT) about 30 mins before you exercise while you listen to your favourite playlist. This will prime your body with energy and increase the number of calories you burn during your workout.”
6. Go with the flow
“Instead of forcing yourself to ‘push through’, learn to train around your menstrual cycle because you can accelerate your results and feel more in tune with what your body needs,” says Anna Drackford, group fitness manager, 35+ years of experience.
“A normal menstrual cycle can last anywhere from 28-35 days so start to track yours so you know where you are:
“Week one of your cycle (your actual period) is when you may choose to exercise at a lower intensity, Week two is the best time for strength gains because this is when your testosterone is at its highest level.”
“Week three is when you may start to notice slight changes to your energy, moods and ability to recover so you are better off doing lighter loads and shorter workouts and Week four is preparation time for your actual period so you may still be experiencing similar feelings to week three. Again, listen to your body and show some self-compassion.”
7. How your body processes alcohol matters
“While most people try to limit the calorie content in the alcohol that they drink (ie. have coke zero or soda with vodka to keep the calories down) the calories are not the only problem with alcohol,” says Josh Barron, a regional fitness manager with 10+ years of experience.
“Your body burns macronutrients in a certain order and while there is alcohol in your system your body will not burn any food until the alcohol has been processed! So, this means that even if you have a few drinks and a salad, the salad goes straight to the bank. Unfortunately, most people don’t go out drinking and have a salad, they choose calorie-dense foods like burgers and kebabs.”
8. Rethink the most important meal of the day
“A lot of people gravitate to carb-heavy breakfast options, even when they’re on a health kick. If you switch to a protein-based breakfast, however, you give yourself a better start to the day,” says Andrew Ng, programs manager with 15+ years of experience.
“It will allow you to give your overworked insulin system a rest (which ultimately encourages your body not to store glucose in your fat cells), decrease your hunger and increase your body’s workload (because your body works harder to break down a protein than it does to break down a carb).”
9. Run this way
“When deadlifting don’t think about lifting the bar, instead aim to push the floor away from you. This will better engage your large glute muscles and help protect your back,” says Kelly Summers, head coach for two years.
“Also, when running on the treadmill always have at least a 1 percent incline. This better replicates road running, as on a flat treadmill the motor will partially spin your legs for you!”
10. Everything in moderation
“Don’t overeat fruit. It may seem healthy but the natural sugars that exist in our favourite healthy snack can still inhibit weight loss when consumed in large amounts,” says Kate Groube, Area Operations Manager with 28+ years of experience.
“Be especially careful of juicing your fruit as you miss out on the important fibre which is usually found around the skin.”
Sam Merza is the national fitness manager at Genesis Health + Fitness.