Fitness Together Moorseville - September 2017

A Fitness Myth That Just Won’t Die

If you’re showing up to pump iron and build muscle, it’s only a matter of time before someone tells you that cardio exercise and muscle gains don’t mix. This myth has persisted for years and permeated the health and fitness world at the highest levels. Even well-meaning coaches and trainers may furrow their brows when you explain that you engage in cardio exercise. But strength and fitness expert Heather Hitchcock explains that the formula between calories and bulking doesn’t change when you add cardio to your fitness routine. “Bodybuilders often restrict the amount of cardio performed to save the calories for muscle growth,” she writes. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do cardio. It just means you have to eat more to compensate for the calories burned. True, if you’re what Jason Ferruggia calls “a classic hardgainer,” you’ll be better served by avoiding cardio for a month or three. But after you’ve done that? “Everyone but absolute beginners should be doing some kind of cardio-type activity at least three times per week for 30 minutes,” Ferruggia says. It’s good for your heart and for overall fitness. Furthermore, according to Ferruggia, moderate cardio can help you build lean muscle. “Contrary to what many people believe, cardio can actually be of great benefit to those looking to get bigger and stronger … it allows you to eat more muscle-building calories while staying lean.” If you’re bulking “clean,” 30 minutes of running or biking three times a week might make your next “cut” that much easier. So get out there, and get the cardio in. You can do it immediately after your weight session or on days when you don’t lift. Just make sure to eat enough to compensate, and you’ll be in better shape than ever.

DEALING WITH STRESS Learn Healthy Coping Mechanisms That Put You in Control

You have more control over stress than you think. Stress management is about taking charge of your lifestyle, thoughts, emotions, and the way you deal with problems. No matter how stressful your life seems, there are steps you can take to regain control. Identify Sources Chronic stress is hard to recognize. Look closely at your habits and excuses. Do you explain away stress as temporary? Do you define stress as an integral part of your life? Do you blame your stress on others? If you don’t recognize your role in creating or maintaining stress, you will never be able to control it. Find Healthy Strategies Withdrawing from loved ones, bingeing on food or alcohol, procrastinating, and sleeping too much are all unhealthy ways to deal with stress. Instead, find unique, healthy coping strategies. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control. Avoid, Alter, Adapt, and Accept Some stressors are predictable. Learn how to predetermine your reactions by

choosing to avoid, alter, adapt, or accept. Avoid people or situations that stress you out. Talk about your feelings instead of bottling them up, create a balanced schedule, reframe your problems, look at the big picture, and practice gratitude. It’s critical to look at the glass as half-full and learn to forgive. Make Time for Relaxation Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury. If you make ample time for self-care, you will be in a better place to handle life’s stressors. Give yourself options like going for a walk, calling a good friend, journaling, or reading a book. Live a Healthy Lifestyle In addition to regular exercise, there are other healthy lifestyle choices that can increase your resistance to stress. Eat a healthy diet; reduce caffeine and sugar; avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs; and get enough sleep. Stress is unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to dictate your life. With stress management techniques, you can avoid chronic stress, reduce your stress levels, and live your life to the fullest.

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