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Workout Myths - Are you doing more harm than good?

31 Aug 2012 | LCpl. Ali Azimi

Physical fitness is a part of a Marine’s everyday life, whether it’s unit physical training or hitting the gym during some downtime.


Along the path to improving our physical abilities, we naturally come across rumors about what is and what is not good for us.

Many of these workout suggestions can actually be damaging our bodies and slow the progress in our training.

We hear these “myths” from friends, co-workers or even strangers at the gym. Just because they are running next to you on the treadmill or are a good friend doesn’t make them a reliable source.

Most of us learn about stretching before every workout during elementary school gym. But there is more than one type of stretching, and each has a different purpose.

Static stretching, such as touching your toes or quad stretches, as a warm-up has not been proven to help prevent injuries during a workout.

“You want to do more dynamic warm-ups, starting with general mobility,” said John Hollis, recreational specialist, West Gym, who also holds a Masters degree in physical fitness.

To warm up muscles, exercises such as jumping jacks or stationary squats are recommended. Move on to lunges and “Frankenstein” walks for an added boost.

Although static stretching doesn’t do much as a warm-up, it has its place at the end of a workout, helping start the recovery process of the muscles.

Cardio exercises are an important part of raising and maintaining stamina and endurance. But which is better for the body: running on a treadmill or outside?

There is a give and take when deciding between the two.

Treadmills provide better cushion for the joints compared to running on asphalt, and it helps keep a steady pace during a run. Adjusting the incline setting to one percent furthers a closer simulation to outdoor running. However, it is still not the same.

“You’re not propelling yourself forward,” Hollis said. “You’re keeping up with the tread.”

Although treadmills save some wear-and-tear on the joints, a part of the physical gain of running outdoors is taken away. Purchasing the right kind of running shoes can help alleviate the stress outdoor running puts on your joints. Talk with a footwear expert at any athletic store to find out what style and type suits your body and exercise lifestyle.

Protein is a key building block of muscle growth. This widely known fact sends many to the local nutrition stores buying large amounts of protein shake products. While it doesn’t do much harm getting in the extra protein, it’s not as good as what you might get from chicken breast or fish.

“I think the main benefit of protein shakes right after you’re working out is the convenience,” Hollis said. “It starts the recovery process and you want some protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes of your workout.”

Drink protein shakes as needed, but be sure it’s not the body’s only means of protein.

Many people’s main goal in exercise is weight loss. Some may spend much of their time in saunas or steam rooms trying to sweat the weight off. This not only does’nt work, it can be harmful.

Initially, there is some weight loss. You sweat so profusely, the body loses a lot of water causing a drop in weight. However, all this weight is gained back once the body replenishes its water supply throughout the day.

Not only does it not work toward weight loss, but staying in these rooms for too long can cause people to pass out or give them heart problems.

These are just some of the myths floating around. Before making any “friendly suggestions” part of your regular routine, make sure to check the facts with a knowledgeable source. Trainers at the base’s gym are on staff to help.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms