The Huddle

Breaking the Rules

Posted: 03-06-2012 | Categories: Parents & Students

These blog entries don’t just magically appear!  We shuffle through piles of potential topics and research quite a few magazines, sports articles, and other relative publications to find what we feel is the perfect blog topic!  Every once in a while, we stumble across a blogger’s dream; we hit the jackpot!  Lucky for you, today is one of those days.  Today we’ve found 10 fitness rules that you can break!  Who doesn’t like being a rebel every once in a while?  Our friends at wrote a pretty awesome blog entry a few days ago, and we’d figure we’d share it with you. 

I can’t tell you how many times over the last twenty years I’ve had conversations with clients where they’ve said the words, “But don’t I HAVE to?”  In each case they’ve been referring to some unspoken fitness rule that everyone seems to think is the truth. It could be diet related, perhaps a “golden rule” of exercise or just something that sounds like common sense…but isn’t.  The truth is that while an exercise plan should be regimented, the actual exercise shouldn’t be. As far as I’m concerned there are NO RULES when it comes to fitness, just limitations within your imagination.

So here are my Top 10: Fitness Rules That Should be Broken.
1. Gender Specific Exercises – You know this one – it goes something like this… barbell bench presses and deadlifts are for guys and glute raises and core work are for the ladies. How silly! The truth is that if men and women switched routines they’d both benefit from the variety that each other’s workouts provide. Exercise isn’t gender specific – it’s human body specific. So men – get into a butt blaster class and ladies – hit the weights!
2. Taking Time Off – Some people believe that they can’t take more than a few days off and if they do, that all of their hard work will disappear. In actuality, it’s a great idea to take up to two weeks off TWICE per year! Look at it this way, out of the 52 weeks in one year, if you don’t work out for 4 of them, do you really think your fitness will suffer? The answer is no. Time away from the gym allows your body and your brain to reset, refresh and gear up for more intense training.
3. The Fat Burning Zone – If there’s one rule that drive me nuts  – it’s this one. Too many people believe that you need to train in the magic 60% heart rate fat burning zone to burn the most fat. It’s on virtually every piece of cardio equipment. The short answer is that you need to train in a variety of heart rate zones to not only burn fat for fuel, but also increase your cardiovascular endurance.
4. Frequent Eating – I crushed this rule when I tried intermittent fasting for a month. We’ve been conditioned to think that we must eat small frequent meals that include protein to keep our metabolism running strong and to preserve muscle mass. But we now know this isn’t true. In fact during religious holidays, the further the participants get into their fast, the more fat they lose! And when compared to traditional multiple–meal all day diets, fasting type diets have been shown to preserve more muscle!
5. Workouts Duration – I just touched on this topic in a recent Fitness Fact Or Fiction. Conventional training states that workouts need to be 45 minutes to an hour to be productive. However it’s been proven that burts of intense exercise of just 15–20 minutes can produce significant increases in health and fitness. And there’s also some evidence to suggest that the shorter workouts produce results faster than their longer counterparts!
6. Eat Less Than You Burn – Okay, this one kills me too! The thinking goes that if you eat 500 less calories 7 days per week, that’s 3,500 calories = 1 pound of fat loss. Makes sense right? Wrong! It’s NEVER that simple and using that basic formula is a recipe for diet failure. Look at it this way, if you ate more than you burned from a diet consisting of broccoli and green beans – would you get fat? Heck no. So what’s the answer? Eat whole foods, lots of veggies, lean proteins and healthy fats. You can’t live your life like a math formula.
7. Equal Reps – Some people take their gym regimes far too seriously – I know because I used to be one of them. We’re so focused on performing equal numbers of reps on both sides that if we make a mistake and don’t, some people think they’ll be crooked or screw up their muscle. Do you know how many times you do more reps on one side or muscle in real life? Countless, that’s how many. If anything, I suggest doing more reps and maybe even a few sets more on your non-dominant side – I do!
8. Correct Core Training – For the last time please let me explain this. Your “core” is comprised of many abdominal muscles that work in synchronicity to stabilize your spine. I see so many gurus and fitness magazines showing abdominal exercises like crunches and calling them core exercises. True core work involves trunk rotation, both resisting it and creating it under resistance. T-Squares, medicine ball chops and all other true core exercises should be included. Check out my Figure 8 Workout video.
9. Cardio Is A Necessity – “I gotta’ do my cardio” – ever heard that one before? Or said it yourself? The truth is that people fail to realize that cardiovascular conditioning can be vastly increased through weight training and other exercises, not just aerobic activity. So don’t feel like you have to hit the treadmill or bike during each workout. Sure they’re great to use to increase your fitness and health, but that’s just part of your program. Don’t be a slave to the ‘cardio’ craze!
10. 8-12 Rep Ranges – When it comes to rep ranges, 8–12 has been the standard for years. It’s seen as the best for your muscle growth because it provides good strength gains while providing a stimulus for growth. But who cares for rules? Your muscles don’t just work in specific ranges and neither should your workout. Try sets of 5, 20, even 100 reps, or switch the rep ranges up within a given workout. You have different types of muscle fibers that respond to different stimulus. Plus if you always train in the same range, trying something new will provide a challenge for your body and create fresh results.

We’re sure quite a few of you were living by some of these fitness “rules.”  Do you think you’re ready to break a few?  Check out for more cool health and fitness blogs.

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