Rules are important but sometimes they can be broken, and if it allows you to live a better lifestyle then some rules should be taken with a grain of salt. Let’s take several common knowledge fitness rules and see if we can break them when necessary. It doesn’t mean that these rules are bad or that you must break them, but there are certainly benefits in looking at them loosely.
Rule #1: Focus on Compound Exercises
Compound multi-joint exercises are preferred because they work more muscles. It’s a great way to burn more calories, gain muscle and stay fit in general. But there will come a time when you will want to focus on specific parts of your body, especially if it concerns muscle imbalances. Then you’ll want to break this rule and add more isolation exercises to your workouts.
Rule #2: Vary Your Workouts
Muscles adjust to the same stimuli and workouts lose their effectiveness if they don’t change for a long time. That’s why it’s a general rule to keep varying the exercises to hit muscles in different ways. But when it comes to training for size, you need to maximize the stimuli as much as possible and that means sticking to the same workout longer than you usually would.
Rule #3: No Pain, No Gain
Your muscles grow when they heal the micro-tears made by a hard workout, that’s why you feel sore afterward. This pain is sought after by many people as an indication of results. But too much pain can actually lead to injuries if you over-train. Even if you don’t feel very sore the next day after a workout, it doesn’t mean you’re getting no results. You still burn calories, your muscles still work and you don’t have to seek pain to get gains.
Rule #4: Use Slow Tempo
More time under resistance, especially in the eccentric movement, means the muscles work more intensely and that leads to more muscle growth. But there are a lot of benefits of explosive movements too, such as increased muscle recruitment and strength development.
Rule #5: Don’t Use Momentum
Momentum should be avoided to challenge the muscles from start to finish, that’s the key to the correct form of almost every exercise. But using cheat curls can be beneficial, especially when you want to focus on eccentric muscle movement. So you can swing the barbell up a little to curl a bigger weight but then really concentrate on muscle extension when lowering down.
Rule #6: You Must Do Cardio for Fat Loss
While it’s true that you can burn more calories during cardio, you don’t have to do it to lose fat if your weight training is intense enough. Working the muscles with weights burns calories and there’s a benefit of the afterburn which keeps burning the calories for days after an intense workout to heal the muscles.
Rule #7: Follow a Strict Diet
So you have your nutrition planned and calories calculated, it’s all good and set to keep you fit for days, weeks, months, and years. But can you really stick to it every single day all year round? You will go out to eat, you will visit friends and family for a dinner, there are holidays which involve not-so-healthy eating. Having to say no to everything beats the purpose of a healthy lifestyle if it doesn’t make you happy. You should be able to fit in the unhealthy food between your macros.
Rule #8: Follow a Strict Workout Schedule
Likewise, working out regularly is a great thing that gets you the best results. But unexpected things happen that you can’t plan for in advance, and having to say no (if you can say no at all) to everything is not a good lifestyle. You should be able to skip workouts and be able to adjust as you go.
Rule #9: No Alcohol
You can certainly lead a life completely alcohol-free, but a drink now and then will not destroy your fit lifestyle. In fact, some researches show that an occasional alcoholic drink has health benefits, even if just to relieve stress. Don’t be afraid to bend the rules and have fun now and then.
Rule #10: You Need Plenty of Sleep
Your muscles recover best and growth hormones are active when you sleep, so it is crucial to have a good night’s rest. And while sleep is of great benefit, it doesn’t mean you won’t see any results if you stay up late now and then and get up early.