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Dr. Alex Hutchinson subtitled his book, “Fitness Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise.”
Written in a clear, precise, and informative manner, you can use this book to help you decide when to exercise, how to exercise, and what to exercise with. Backing up all of his points with solid research, Dr. Hutchinson takes each fitness "talking point" and helps you understand why it is or isn’t a myth.
There are few topics Dr. Hutchinson doesn’t tackle, but here are just a few that he discusses early in his book:
- How long does it take to get in shape?
- Am I exercising enough?
- What should I do first: cardio or weights?
- Can I get fit in seven minutes a week?
- Can exercise increase my risk of a heart attack?
- Will exercising in cold air freeze my lungs?
- When is it too hot to exercise?
- Should I avoid exercising outside when air pollution is high?
- How will exercise affect my immune system?
- Is motivation to exercise genetic?
- How long does it take to get unfit?
Dr. Hutchinson goes on to discuss several other topics, including:
- fitness gear from treadmills to running shoes (and even running without);
- the physiology of exercise;
- aerobic exercise and what’s the “right” or “wrong” way to do it;
- strength and power (free weights vs. machines, body-weight exercises and more);
- flexibility and core strength (“core” and yoga and warm-ups);
- injuries and recovery;
- exercise and aging;
- weight management;
- nutrition and hydration;
- mind and body; and,
- the competitive edge.
Treasure Trove of Good Ideas
There are numerous bits of excellent advice from Dr. Hutchinson, but here are four of my favourites, and the most pertinent for my fitness class participants:
- “...There’s no single best exercise program or technique that applies to everyone. You’ll have to take into account your background, current level of fitness and goals in designing an appropriate workout regimen — not to mention more subtle considerations like the types of activity you enjoy. After all, the most effective program is the one you can stick with!”
- “When the body is subjected to stresses and overloads of varying intensities, it will gradually adapt over time to overcome whatever demands are placed on it. That’s what every form of exercise boils down to. The stress could be lifting weights or pedalling a bicycle, and the adaptation is bigger muscle fibres, a stronger heart, and hundreds of other microscopic changes. The key is balancing the size of the stress: too small (lifting a half-pound weight, say), and your body won’t see any need to adapt; too large, and it won’t have a chance to adapt due to injury or exhaustion. Much of the research described in this book aims to help you find this delicate balance.”
- “For the average person at the gym, it will take six months or more to see significant sculpting of the body — even though strength has been increasing from day one. Weight loss is more difficult to predict, because it depends on your starting point, your health history, your genetics, and your diet as well as your workout routine.”
- “Let’s start with one incontrovertible fact: you can’t fulfill your ultimate potential as both a weightlifter and a marathoner at the same time....Too many hours sweating on the elliptical will hinder your ability to put on muscle, and pumping too much iron will slow your endurance gains. But most of us don’t want Olympic medals in both events. We just want some combination of reasonable cardiovascular fitness and non-vanishing muscles...The solution...is to mix it up....If you’re looking for the best of both worlds. [Derek] Hansen [head coach for strength and conditioning at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC] suggests mixing it up, both within a single session and from day to day: ‘The variability will be good, as it challenges your body and metabolism.’”
- Fitness Class Benefits
- Fitness Instruction for the Older Adult: BCRPA Guidelines
- Fitness Instructors: What They Know and What They Don't Know
- Fitness Principles
- The Importance of Social Connections
- Intensity and Duration of Exercise: Is One more Important than the Other?
- Why I Exercise: Confessions of a Fitness Instructor
- Why Lift Weights?
Other Book Reviews:
I am a BCRPA-certified fitness instructor in Vancouver, BC. I teach four classes at the West End Community Centre in Vancouver, BC, mostly designed for the older adult. The Inevitable Disclaimer: Everything published here expresses only my opinion, based on my training and research. What you do with the information is entirely your own responsibility. I am not liable for any injury you suffer that seems to be related to anything you read here. Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. For other articles, return to the table of contents.
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