8 FITNESS TRUTHS THAT HAVE STOOD THE TEST OF TIME
When it comes to fitness, it can be easy to get sucked into new trends—from TikTok workout videos by non-certified individuals to sponsored Instagram influencer posts about weight-loss teas and who knows what else. Unfortunately, fleeting fitness and nutrition trends can end up costing you a pretty penny without yielding meaningful (or any) results, and constantly trying new, unnecessary exercises or other activities can leave you in the same place—or worse, injured.
The fact is, your body’s needs are pretty simple and don’t evolve nearly as fast as your social media feed. That’s why it’s often best to stick to what’s tried and true. So we asked the experts to share their thoughts on the fitness truths you can count on.
FITNESS TRUTHS THAT HAVE STOOD THE TEST OF TIME
1. It all starts with good form.
No matter what kind of workout you’re doing, proper form should always be your priority. It’s not only important for yielding optimal results, but also critical to minimizing your chance of injury. “You can never fully guarantee injury prevention—inside or outside the weight room,” says Filip Andreev, a certified personal trainer at TS Fitness in New York City. “But, when it comes to training, most injuries occur when the form of a particular movement is either compromised or neglected.” One of the most common times for this to happen is when you’re tired or towards the end of a workout, so be sure to keep your form in check from the beginning of your workout to the end, especially as you fatigue.
2. A warm-up is always a good idea.
No matter your experience level, a proper warm-up is an invaluable factor in preparing your body to get the most out of your workout. “Without a warm-up, you won’t be able to perform at your very best, or worse, you could be putting yourself at risk of getting an injury,” says Andreev. “When warming up, you should not only aim to increase your body’s temperature, but more importantly prime your body with movements that are similar to what your workout will include.” For example, Andreev explains that if you plan on squatting in your workout, there should be some sort of squat-like movement pattern in your warm-up. “This not only gets you warm, but it also prepares your muscles and nervous system for the activities that you’re about to go through.”
3. Comparing yourself with others is not helpful.
The quickest way to get frustrated with your fitness routine is to compare yourself with other individuals. Your fitness journey is a personal one, and it shouldn’t be compared or evaluated against anyone else’s. “Other people have different experiences and goals,” says Andreev. “They may have some advantages or disadvantages that you yourself might not have, and they may have a reason for doing what they’re doing that you aren’t even aware of.” Remember that genetics pay a role, too. “You are an individual and you should strive for your own personal success,” says Andreev. Accept where you are in your fitness journey, and start there.
4. There is always more to learn.
If you think you know it all, you’re vastly mistaken. Even those who have spent their entire careers in the fitness industry can agree that the science is forever evolving, and there’s always more to be learned when it comes to physical exercise. “Fitness is a science that evolves incredibly fast,” says Andreev, “so you can really never know everything about fitness and exercise science.” Even if you could somehow absorb all the knowledge that exists today, adds Andreev, it would likely be outdated within the next decade or even sooner.
5. Fundamentals are your friend.
While fitness science is forever changing, the basic fundamentals have largely remained the same. Yes, you may have seen someone do something cool on Instagram that you now want to try, but likes are not a substitute for research. “Don’t get me wrong, some trends are cool, but if you want long-term success, the fundamentals will always hold water and get the job done,” says Andreev. “Just like in sports and other skills, the fundamentals have to be learned before anything else. What most don’t realize is that the ‘boring’ things are what get the job done best.” It’s ok to add some flavor to your workout every now and then, assuming you’ve done your homework and have a good reason for whatever it is you’re doing, but the fundamentals should always serve as the foundation upon which your fitness regimen is built.
6. Injuries are inevitable.
No matter how hard you try, you will encounter an injury or two here and there over time. “Even with you playing it safe and smart in the weight room, the human body goes through fluctuations of peak and suboptimal performance,” explains Andreev. “This can lead to seemingly random pain or even noticeably impaired movement.” However, injuries can be mitigated. “When it comes to training, your body takes a beating,” says Andreev. “Exercise is a stressor and can lead to an injury. The key is giving yourself enough time to properly recover!” It’s alright to train hard, as long as you recover harder. Be sure you’re getting enough sleep and eating well, and remember that we all need rest days.
7. You can’t out-train a bad diet.
No matter how many workouts you do each week or even each day, you won’t be able to outpace a diet filled with unhealthy foods and empty calories. “If you want abs or a specific physique, your body needs the proper fuel and healthy nutrients to get there,” says Andreev. “For example, if you want to lose weight, you need to lower your body-fat percentage, and to do that, you’ll ideally want to be in a healthy caloric deficit while training hard and consistently. You can eat clean all you want, but if the calories you are consuming exceed the calories you’re burning (a caloric surplus), you’re going to have a very hard time cutting fat.”
8. Protein, when combined with working out, can help you build muscle.
If you’re exercising regularly but not refueling appropriately, there’s a good chance you’re not getting the most out of your workouts. After tough sweat sessions, especially those involving resistance training, sufficient protein intake can make a significant impact on your muscle gains over time. “The amino acids in protein are used for muscle protein synthesis,” says Leslie Bonci, a registered dietitian and creator of Active Eating Advice. “To build muscle, you need to be in a positive protein balance or, in other words, consuming more protein than you are breaking down.” If you want your muscles to grow from the work you’re putting in at the gym, be sure that your post-workout protein intake is on point.