With so many people having “stakes” in the fitness industry, it’s no surprise that many people have all kinds of questions that they’re dying to get answers to. After all, tons of exercise myths have been perpetuated throughout time, so it can get confusing to figure out what information is accurate and what information isn’t. Since we can’t rely on subjective answers for truth, let’s turn instead to what we can all agree on to be believable and accurate: science. We’ve gathered some of the top fitness questions we’ve been asked and have the answers to the things you’ve been dying to know.
Question #1: Should I Work Out Alone or in a Group?
Ever heard the saying, “there’s strength in numbers”? Turns out there’s scientific basis for that. Working out in a group can actually enhance your mental state and increase your capacity to achieve more during your workouts. In fact, there are a handful of studies that show group exercise to be more beneficial and working out solo. In 2010, for example, anthropologists discovered that the pain threshold of members of the Oxford rowing team was much higher after group training exercises than it was during solo exercise. Similarly, during a study on rugby players in 2015, research found that the athletes performed much better during sprint tests when they warmed up together as a team versus individual warm ups. Applying this to your personal journey, working out with a group of people is more likely to keep you committed to your work out and less likely to flake. It’s also a great way to motivate yourself. Working out with a group allows you to encourage one another and could give you the mental fortitude and endurance you need to power through a difficult routine.
Question 2: Is Running Outdoors More Effective Than Running Indoors?
This one was a tough one to figure out because there are pros and cons associated with both indoor and outdoor running. For example, running outside has its disadvantages in the hazards that come with the outdoors in general. Pollution could affect your breathing, dog mess is a terrible hassle especially when you step right into a pile of it, and security is a big concern for many people who live in rough neighborhoods. Meanwhile, running indoors, and on treadmills in particular, actually puts you at a higher risk for injury because of the repetitive movements involved with it. It’s factors like these that have had the jury out for quite some time on which one is better. At the end of the day however, research seems to point to outdoor running as being better for you purely because of its psychological benefits. Studies show that running outdoors results in a stronger feeling of revitalization, positivity and energy. People have also reported feeling less tension, depression, anger and confusion thanks to outdoor exercise. Of course, if you don’t have a nice safe place to work out outdoors with good weather, then it’s better, physiologically, to stay indoors.
Question 3: Do I Really Need to Consume Protein within 30 Minutes of a Workout?
While fitness professionals once preached about the need to cash in on the window of anabolic opportunity, it’s now starting to look like this information is largely obsolete. It’s true that there is a need to consume protein to help counter the muscle damage caused by exercising, but you don’t necessarily have to consume it within 30 minutes of your work out. Research shows that your body can actually make use of protein consumed to help build muscle for up to 48 hours after a workout. It also turns out that there’s a lack of scientific evidence to prove that immediate protein consumption after pumping iron helps prevents muscle breakdown or increases muscle mass in any way. Here’s an extra interesting tidbit of information: there’s also no evidence to show that carbohydrate consumption soon after exercising can help restore low levels of glycogen either.
Question 4: Is It Better to Use Fixed Weights or Free Weights?
Ah, the much-debated question of free weights verses fixed weights. This one’s a bit of a tough one for us to answer because even science coming out with conflicting answers. For example, one study was conducted in United States on a group of exercise beginners over the course of 16 weeks. At the end of the study, researchers concluded that the group of beginners who used free weights saw two times the strength gains compared to a separate group that made use of fixed-weight machines. On the other hand, a separate study in 2016 also showed that the strength increases between people using free barbells and leg press machines were quite similar. It is worth noting, however, that free weights were better at improving jumping abilities.
At the end the day, we’re going to say that this one depends on your level of fitness. Fixed weight machines are preferable and much more beneficial for beginners because they are simpler and are much easier to learn proper form on. Machines are also great for people who are in the midst of rehab or are looking to target and focus on certain muscle groups. Meanwhile, free weights are spectacular for people who want their regiment to include a greater range of motion and dynamic exercises targeting multiple muscles. If we’re honest, we’d make the educated (albeit slightly biased) recommendation to go with free weights if you’re a bit savvier in the gym. Barbells, kettlebells and dumbbells are top choices for free weight exercises and, when used efficiently, can help you burn more fat and enjoy more gains in a lesser amount of time.
Question 5: Is It Smart to Stretch During Warm-Ups?
It’s time to put this one to rest, folks! Studies show that stretching during warm ups can actually reduce muscle strength by up to 6%. There’s also no proof that stretching can lower risk of injury. All evidence points to stretching during warm ups as detrimental to performance over all, especially when it comes to sports that require sudden bursts of power and agility. So, simply said, no guys it’s not smart.