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10 common (but wrong) fitness tips

MAR 8, 2022

Minute 1: Deadlifts are a great tool for runners and cyclists

Despite their name, deadlifts can breathe new life into your performance as a runner or cyclist. When it comes to building core and lower body strength, there are very few exercises that can top this classic powerlifting move. If you think deadlifts are just for the hero room at the gym, think again, and check out: “Five Ways Runners Can Benefit From Deadlifting” from Training Peaks. First of all, deadlifts recruit the same large muscle groups used while running. By developing hamstring and glute strength, you’re better able to propel yourself forward. Deadlifts also help reduce your risk of injury, since a stronger leg is less likely to break down under strain. Of course, you’ll need to pay close attention to your form to ensure you don’t injure yourself weightlifting, but there are a few variations you can try out to make things easier. Take a look at “Stop Doing Barbell Deadlifts. Do These Exercises Instead” from Men’s Health. While traditional barbell deadlifts are great for those looking to compete in powerlifting, they aren’t the safest way to simply build strength. Using a trap bar instead lets you take a more natural position, lifting the weight similarly to how one lifts bags of groceries. If you’re new to weightlifting in general, you might want to check out “How to Start Weightlifting With Polar Ambassador Alice Mastriani.” Probably the most important thing to do is to speak to a trainer or experienced lifter as you learn the movements to develop proper form. #HoustonWeHaveDeadLiftOff

Minute 2: Grow a garden and a healthier mindset this spring

One natural and healthy outgrowth of Covid has been the blooming of “pandemic gardens.” Across several countries and cultures, there’s been a renewed interest in gardening, which is a much healthier activity than binge-watching Netflix. We would expect gardening to provide hyper-local farm-to-table experiences and exercise outdoors, but we were happily surprised to learn that gardening promotes growth and happiness between the ears as well: “How to cultivate wellbeing through gardening.” In a survey conducted by the Royal Horticultural Society, UK residents were offered a few free plants to put in front of their houses. Those who accepted reported feeling more pride in their neighborhood, and more interaction with the people around them. The act of planting presents an opportunity for mindfulness, focusing your awareness on sights, smells, and textures of your greenery. In our personal experience, we have also found that gardening is a lot like running in the sense that you have to trust in deferred gratification. You don’t plant a seed and expect to harvest the next day. You need faith that hard work will provide benefits many weeks and months later. Not only is gardening good for your mind, but also your body: “Yard Work Is Basically Strength Training—Here’s How to Get Stronger While Mowing the Lawn.” When it comes to lawn mowers, choosing manual over automatic will let you reap the benefits of an exercise like sled pushes, all while beautifying your yard. Leaf removal is no easy task either. Raking is a killer workout for your arms, while larger leaf blowers require quite a bit of core strength to hold upright over time. #PandemicPlanting

Minute 3: Mythbusting common fitness falsehoods

These days, it seems like no area of life is safe from the spread of misinformation. The fitness industry has been a particularly bad offender, and there are a lot of myths still circulating in blogs and social media that we know to be false. So let's set the record straight and dive into “No Pain, No Gain? 10 Common Fitness Tips That Are Actually Dead Wrong.” One of the most ubiquitous narratives is about spot reduction, or targeted fat loss. It seems intuitive; if you want to burn fat on your core, do crunches. Our bodies just aren’t that simple, though, as the areas in which our bodies store fat are largely determined by genetics and hormones. Lowering body fat with exercise is best done through cardio, but we can’t choose where you gain or lose it. You’d be hard pressed to step into a gym and not read or hear the words “no pain, no gain” at least once. In truth, that’s a mentality that sets you up for overtraining and injury, and it probably won’t yield the best results in the long run. We’ve spoken before about the 80/20 rule, and for a refresher, check out “What is the 80/20 rule?” Many coaches and researchers agree, 80% of your running should be easy and pain free, allowing you to build up an aerobic base without overtaxing your body.

Minute 4: Grapes are great for your health

When it comes to nutritional density, it’s hard to beat berries. Blueberries, blackberries, and Acai berries get lots of love from nutritionists, and this story is typical of that adoration: “11 Reasons Why Berries Are Among the Healthiest Foods on Earth.” Those antioxidant triplets have a close cousin, however, that packs a nutritional punch without staining your fingertips or carpets. Last week, this story provided the details: “Grapes: Health benefits and nutrition facts.” Like berries, grapes have strong antioxidant traits. Vitamin C, manganese, beta-carotene, and resveratrol can all be found in grapes, with red and Concord grapes being particularly strong options. Grapes also contain polyphenols, which raise HDL cholesterol (the healthy kind), and reduce inflammation. One study found that when consumed alongside other fruits regularly, grapes were associated with a lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes. That seems to cohere with other recent research, which found that “Drinking Wine With Dinner May Reduce the Risk for Developing Type 2 Diabetes.” Drinking wine for health benefits is a bit like fighting for peace – effective in moderation, but dangerous in large quantities. Many researchers have concluded that 1 or 2 glasses taken during mealtime had powerful preventative effects. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Resveratrol might be a key ingredient that makes red wine heart healthy.” It’s worth noting that other grape products, like raisins, jelly, and grape juice, could bring similar benefits, but they typically have higher sugar concentrations and less nutrition from processing. Whole grapes off the vine are a much better way to go.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Mary Cain has never been one to back down from a challenge. In 2013, she became the youngest American track & field athlete to compete at the World Championships, and continued to run at the pro level for several years following. Now, she’s looking to tackle new triathlons, and she’s grateful the sport “gave [her] an opportunity to be a beginner again.” She shared a list of advice for athletes starting their own journeys with Women’s Running recently: “Mary Cain is Becoming a Triathlete: “Don’t Be Afraid to be a Beginner at Something.”

  • Some cardio enthusiasts may overlook ellipticals in favor of treadmills or simply outdoor running, but they’d be missing out on some of the unique benefits they bring. Lower impact, upper body engagement, and reduced risk of injury, to name a few. Figure out if an elliptical would be a good addition to your routine in “Elliptical vs running: which exercise is more effective?

  • Our apparel vendor reminded us last week that we still have a few Six Minute Mile t-shirts left in their warehouse. They are made from high quality tri-blend material, unlike most of the race giveaway shirts collecting dust in the bottom drawer of our dresser. Best of all, our Six Minute Mile shirts come in any color you’d like (as long as you’d like black). Just in time for spring struts along your favorite running routes, leaving passers by to say aloud: “So that’s what a Six Minute Mile looks like.” Check out the remaining inventory here, priced to move at only $14.99.

  • We convinced our sister company, MarathonFoto, to hold a sale this week exclusively for Six Minute Mile readers. When races were idle during the pandemic, MarathonFoto kept themselves busy by uploading more than 200,000,000 old race photos to the cloud. These photos cover races from 2006 through 2021 and are now available in the Photo Vault. Don’t wait to recapture your glory days and impress your friends with how fast and fit you are/used to be. Use code SMM20 for 20% off all your historic race photos. Search for them here.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

An Ironman triathlon requires athletes to muster everything they’ve got to make it 140.6 miles. Sometimes the final few yards of that journey can be the toughest, as demonstrated in the Instagram post below from @runner.daily. Sergei was hurting badly, knees buckling with the finish line in sight. Coaxed on by a cheering crowd and an enthusiastic announcer, he made it down the home stretch on his hands and knees. It is reminiscent of a famous Ironman World Championship finish from 1997, when top contenders Sian Welch and Wendy Ingraham both collapsed just before the finish line and proceeded to race each other crawling. The video has become known in triathlon circles as simply “The Crawl.”


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