• Fact vs Fiction: 10 common health and fitness myths debunked

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    There is a colossal amount of information available to us about fitness, which is frequently contradictory. It is often hard to decipher fact from fiction which leaves us all in a state of confusion but, when in doubt, it is important to turn to science. 

    In a world of fad workout trends, sport science serves to discern fact from fiction with in-depth research and testing.

    Myth 1: Long sessions at a lower intensity burn more body fat

    Our bodies are always working to turn both carbohydrates and fat into energy which our cells can utilise. This energy production is constant, and the dominant energy source changes depending on what we’re doing and what we have most recently eaten. 

    It is true that when working out at 55-70% of your maximum heart rate, your body will utilise more fat than carbohydrate for fuel. The more intensely you exercise, the more your body turns to carbohydrate stores for energy. However, as higher-intensity exercise puts more strain on the body, it requires more caloric energy. And so, if your goal is to solely lose weight, it isn’t necessarily more effective train at a lower intensity to stay in a so-called ‘fat-burning zone’

    When it comes to exercise, a mixture of intensities is important. Striking a balance in your fitness routine is the best way to make it both productive and sustainable.

    Myth 2: Lifting heavy weights makes you bulky

    Lifting weights was previously associated with body building, strongmen, and professional athletes. It bred the longstanding misnomer that performing a low number of repetitions with heavy weights will result in an increase in size. It is important to dispel this myth because strength training is a vital component of any fitness regimen and will not give you unwanted bulkiness, especially if you are a woman. Women’s hormones aren’t conducive to ‘bulking up’, thus women have a greater handicap in putting on excess muscle mass.

    Don’t deny yourself the benefits of resistance training because of the irrational fear of becoming accidentally bulky. Instead, reap the rewards of improved cardiac and respiratory health, increased joint and muscular strength, better posture, more energy, and a faster metabolism.

    Myth 3: You can target areas for weight loss 

    The belief that fat loss in a specific region could be targeted by building muscle around it has evolved from the idea that gaining muscle increases metabolism. Whilst working out can help to reduce your overall body fat, you cannot control where that fat comes from.

    Targeting areas during exercise can be effective to build muscle and shape specific areas but directed fat loss will not occur. This is because, as you exercise your body breaks down stored fat, from fat cells distributed across your entire body, into chemicals that can be utilised as energy. No targeting is required because our bloodstream acts as a carrier for these chemicals to get the energy where it needs to be.

    Myth 4: Your workout must be intense and hard 

    Believe it or not, moving between different intensities and types of exercise is better for your body and fitness levels.

    Not every gym session has to leave you struggling to walk the next day and may be a sign that you are training too hard. It is not a good idea to frequently exercise at a high intensity because it can limit recovery and lead to overtraining. Ideally you should avoid putting too much stress on your body and limit high intensity workouts to 2-3 times per week.

    Myth 5: The more you can train, the better

    You might be relieved to hear that rest is key in fitness. When you work out, you are breaking down muscle fibres so that they can rebuild stronger. To do this, you need to give your body time to recover by scheduling in 1-2 recovery days per week. 

    Recovery days could incorporate complete rest or something which doesn’t put stress on the body, like a walk or gentle stretching.

    If you're looking for some new activewear to make training feel a little easier, check out Sundried's Gym Activewear today for gym wear that will support you and enhance your performance.

    Myth 6: Exercise will result in weight loss

    We have all been conditioned to believe that exercise is the most important element for weight loss but, in truth, it only accounts for a small portion of our daily energy expenditure. This means that it is hard to create a significant calorie deficit through exercise alone.

    Food intake accounts for 100% of the energy that goes into your body whilst exercise can only burn off 10-20% of it. And so, for weight loss, the focus should be turned to dietary intake and regular daily movement.

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    Myth 7: Fasted cardio burns more fat

    The thought process behind fasted cardio is that the body will use fat stores to fuel the session as opposed to dietary carbohydrates in the absence of a pre-workout meal, therefore aiding in weight loss. However, studies have shown that body composition changes associated with aerobic exercise in conjunction with a hypo-caloric diet are similar regardless of whether an individual is fasted prior to training. 

    Ultimately, when it comes to weight loss, an individual’s overall diet is far more important than a single fasted session. The body needs fuel to perform optimally, so eating a small pre-workout meal before a cardio session will only help improve your performance and may even prevent overindulgence later in the day.

    Myth 8: Exercising counteracts the effects of sitting at a desk all day

    If you are sitting at a computer screen or desk for most of the day, a 30-minute workout isn’t going to cut it. It is more important to take movement breaks every 30-60-minutes.

    It is time that we all start to become more innovative when it comes to movement in the workplace and schedule in calls on-the-go and standing meetings. 

    Myth 9: Body parts should always be trained separately

    The use of body part splits is frequently overused by lifters and can result in poorer results when done badly. What often happens is that people get too excited at the start of the week and train very hard, resulting in muscle soreness and a reduction in motivation the following day. Consequently, training the next muscle group will be at a much lower intensity, leading to a loading discrepancy between body parts.

    By hitting multiple body parts more often throughout the week, it is much easier to maintain an optimal muscle balance.

    Myth 10: A successful workout should be sweat inducing

    Sweat occurs when your core temperature rises to help cool the body via evaporation. Whilst your muscles will generate heat when you exercise, your internal temperature will largely depend on the temperature that you are working out in. For example, you will sweat less in an air-conditioned room compared to a heated studio. The humidity in the air also plays a role; you will feel like you are sweating more when it is humid because the sweat can’t evaporate from your skin.

    Don’t buy into the notion that sweating is a sign of a good workout. Instead, focus on other better indications of a successful training session like an improvement in fitness or enhanced technique.

    Final thoughts

    When it comes to fitness fads, it is important to exercise some caution. Especially if they seem gimmicky, sound too good to be true, offer ‘quick fixes’, or are trying to sell you something. 

    Take the time to do your own research and only invest your time and money into things which are backed by science. 

    About the author: Laura Smith is an elite level athlete who has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.

    Want more advice from our ambassadors? Connect with Sundried's Personal Trainers on our app, for top tips, free workout plans and more.

    Posted by Aimee Garnett
  • Small ways to make time for movement when you feel like you have no time

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    Regular exercise often helps to reduce stress and improve cognitive function; however, it is not always possible to make time for a training session. Well, perhaps it's time to re-frame what true exercise looks like and make time for movement.

    Many people fall into the trap of only moving when they have enough time for a training session but the long and short term benefits of simple movement should not be underestimated.

    If you find that you do not have enough time to hit the gym or go for a morning run, why not try the following tips for turning typical daily moments into an opportunity for exercise.

    Go for a walk during meetings

    Walking is one of the best ways to keep moving throughout the day. So, next time you have a scheduled meeting, suggest making it a mobile meeting whereby you can go for a walk outside.

    Take the stairs

    The elevator may go up, but it does not make your heart rate climb. Taking the stairs can offer you an additional dose of daily exercise.

    Multi-task

    Catch-up on reading, emails and admin whilst walking, pedalling or using the elliptical machine.

    Socialise on the move

    Next time a friend suggests meeting for lunch, counter with an active invitation. A yoga class, long walk or leisurely bike ride can be a great opportunity to catch up on the latest gossip whilst moving.

    Move whilst you wait

    Whether you are waiting for your dinner to cook or your next meeting to start, there are plenty of short periods throughout the day which can be used for movement. Next time you have a few minutes to spare, repeatedly do 10 push ups followed by 10 squats. Keep track of how many rounds you can do throughout the day and prepare to be amazed.

    Supercharge your chore list

    Whether indoors or out, do not underestimate the effectiveness of housework as exercise. Just throw on some music, pick up the pace, and throw yourself wholeheartedly into the efforts of maintaining your home.

    Stretch at your desk

    Sitting for long periods at your desk can not only affect your health but it can have a direct impact on your work performance and engagement. Try a few simple stretches throughout the day to help ease the strain of prolonged stillness.

    Transform your commute into an opportunity to move

    Walking, running or cycling to work is a perfect way to incorporate movement into your day. But, if your journey is a little too far, why not just park farther away and walk or cycle the remainder of the journey.

    When you start looking for them, you will identify lots of opportunities to be more active. Remember that every little counts!

    About the author: Laura Smith is an accomplished athlete who has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.

    Want more training advice at your fingertips? Connect with Sundried's Personal Trainers on our app, for top tips, free workout plans and more.

    Posted by Aimee Garnett
  • Training Tips: Knowing whether to take a break from your training or push on

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    Too much of anything is never a good thing, even when it comes to exercise. In the same respect that committing to a training regimen is admirable, so is knowing when your body needs a break because, inevitably, it will. However, acknowledging the signs can be difficult, especially when training seems to be going so well and you start to feel physically and mentally stronger.

    This blog aims to pinpoint a few tell-tale signs that your body needs a break so that you can decipher when it might be time to slow down.

    1. Training starts to feel obligatory

    Exercise should not feel like a chore. If it does, it is time to take a breather and re-structure your routine with the types of physical activities that you actually enjoy.

    Sometimes all you need to make your workout feel easier is the right kit. Shop Sundried's Gym Activewear today for gym wear that will support you and enhance your performance.

    2. Physical and mental fatigue

    Sometimes when we have a lot of motivation, we can push ourselves past a breaking point and get injured. There is a key difference between being tired and being lazy. Key signs of physical fatigue include poor sleep, an inability to concentrate, and difficulty in performing day-to-day tasks.

    3. An unusual heart rate

    Both an unusually low and high heart rate can be indicative of exercise burnout. If you are struggling to elevate your heart rate during training or are seeing it skyrocket with minimal effort, it is time to take a break.

    4. Movement patterns and form begin to suffer

    Form is an essential component of any training in order to improve performance and prevent injury. When your body is exhausted from overworking itself, your physical form will suffer. Aching joints, extreme muscle soreness, and impeded flexibility are all signs of an overworked body.

    5. Altered mood which impedes on day-to-day life

    Overdoing it can make you feel extremely down and result in a negative outlook on life in general. A lack of interest in food or social life is a sign that you may be exercising too much and need to take some time off until your mood improves.

    6.Workouts begin to take priority 

    It is not necessarily a bad thing if training is a priority. However, if the thought of taking a day off leaves you with feelings on angst then it has taken an unhealthy role in your life, and you need to take a break ASAP. 

    It can be difficult to strike the balance between working hard and working too hard but hopefully those pointers will be able to help. The bottom line is that rest and recovery should not be feared and should regularly feature in any training regimen. You will be amazed by what a well-rested mind and body can actually achieve.

    About the author: Laura Smith is an elite level athlete who has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.

    Want more training advice at your fingertips? Connect with Sundried's Personal Trainers on our app, for top tips, free workout plans and more.

    Posted by Aimee Garnett
  • Guide to using microgoals in your training

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    Have you ever started a long run and thought, ‘I am never going to get through this!’ Or finished the first effort of a turbo session and wondered, ‘how can I do this over and over again?’ 

    Ultimately, it can be really difficult to motivate oneself when the finish seems so distant and the effort to get there is so great. The good news, however, is that there is a way to ‘trick’ your mind into thinking that the end is near.

    Micro-goal setting is something that I have been unknowingly implementing into my training for many years. The act of breaking up a workout into more manageable chunks really helps to alleviate the daunting prospect of having to work hard for a prolonged period of time. 

    Below, I have detailed some examples of micro-goal setting that you can try out for yourself. You will be amazed by just how long you can keep your body moving when your mind has mini targets to hit.

    Micro goals for a long run

    Next time you are heading out for a 90 minute run, why not think about it as six 15 minute chunks that feel infinitely more doable. Or perhaps you might find that three 30 minute chunks is more approachable. The way you break down a run will depend on your personal preferences and the way your mind works.

    Micro goals for a turbo session

    Sitting on the turbo and repeatedly hitting the correct wattage for a specified period of time can be both physically and mentally challenging which is exacerbated when fatigue sets in. If your session entails nine 3 minute efforts, break the nine efforts up into three. Three lots of three 3 minute efforts certainly sounds more doable than nine 3 minute sets!

    Making sure you have the right kit can also play a huge part in getting you through a difficult session. Try Sundried's Cycle Kit today, suitable for all abilities.

    Micro goals for open water swimming

    Plunging into open water is possibly one of the most daunting scenarios a triathlete faces but micro-goal setting can make things seem much easier. When swimming, concentrate on getting to the subsequent buoy in the loop and once there, focus on arriving at the next. 

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     Micro goals for a race 

    You can use this same strategy in a race too. After logging all those training hours and miles, you should have a good idea of your goal race time; use this information to break things up. For example, if you plan to run 40 minutes for 10k, then split it into four 10-minute chunks. 

    It is amazing just how long you can ‘trick’ your mind into carrying on by focusing on the next mini goal. Remember to try out different approaches during training so that when it comes to race day, you know exactly what method works for you. 

    Connect with the Sundried Personal Trainers on our app for more advice, workout tips, training plans and more. 

    About the author: Laura Smith is a high level athlete and has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.

    Posted by Aimee Garnett
  • 10 steps to develop the perfect morning routine

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    Establishing a good morning routine has been proven to have a positive impact on your day but this doesn’t necessarily mean you must drink a glass of warm lemon water and go for a run before the sun rises. Not all morning routines have to follow the same format or pattern. Whether you wake up at 5am or 11am, we can all establish a regimen that is conducive to our goals and lifestyle.

    I have recently started to listen to ‘The Power Hour’ podcast, hosted by Adrienne Herbert, which has inspired my newfound interest in morning rituals. I have since collated an assortment of data and evidence to support a 10-step way to get your own morning routine nailed.

    1. Understand and utilise your body’s internal clock

    To fully utilise your morning, it is important to know when you will benefit the most from waking up and starting your day. Some people operate best in the early hours, whilst others prefer a later start. If you follow your body’s natural cues as to when you should wake up, your circadian rhythm should stay balanced which will keep you feeling energised during the day.

    2. Identify your morning intentions

    It is vital to acknowledge what you would consider a successful day. Would a successful day entail more productivity? Or are you more concerned with getting your health in order? Once you’ve identified your goals, it’s then time to identify the behaviours that will fulfil these objectives.

    For me, personally, a successful day would be one in which I have an adequate amount of time to be productive and fulfil my daily tasks. Hence, my morning routine would consist of:

    • Waking up at 5am to ensure I can fully utilise my day.
    • Exercising to get my body moving and put me in a good headspace.
    • A morning skincare routine to ensure I am looking after my skin.
    • Eating a nutritious breakfast to give me the energy I need for my active lifestyle.
    • Ensuring that my house is clean and tidy, ready for the day.
    • Using my paper journal to list my daily tasks.

    3. Identify what is not on your ‘To Do’ list

    This may seem counterproductive at first, but the reality is that we often engage in morning behaviours that detract from our intentions. Whether you want to stop checking your emails or stay off social media, it is important to establish these behaviours so that we can replace them with more desirable ones.

    I identified the following behaviours which cause me to stray from a productive morning:

    • Checking social media and emails first thing.
    • Having a coffee to ‘wake me up’.
    • Starting work as soon as I wake up.
    • Having a quick fix breakfast that lacks creativity.
    • Procrastination, which prevents me starting my day productively.

    4. Prepare your environment for the perfect morning

    It is now time to set up physical barriers for the things that you wish to discontinue and implement reinforcements to help establish the desirable behaviours.

    Here’s how I ensure my mornings stay on track:

    • Putting my phone on ‘Do not disturb’ so that I am not distracted by notifications or messages in the morning.
    • Organising my workout clothes the night before, so that I can get straight into training when I wake up.
    • Preparing my morning water or herbal tea the night before, so that I’m not tempted by a quick coffee.
    • Preparing my breakfast the night before, to ensure that it is both nutritious and delicious whilst not taking up too much time in the morning.
    • Planning my morning workouts for the entire week so that I know exactly what I should be doing each morning.

    Shop Sundried's Active Life collection for the perfect morning workout gear.

    5. Do not hit the snooze button

    Once your alarm sounds, get up! Christopher Winter who is a certified sleep medicine physician has found that every time you wake up and go back to sleep, you enter a new sleep cycle. Any sleep you get from pressing snooze is too light and fragmented to be beneficial and could actually leave you feeling more tired.

    Following a prolonged period of a consistency, waking up will soon become a breeze. After years of early mornings, I now automatically wake up at around 5am and don’t need to set an alarm.

    6. Move before you start your morning routine

    Have you ever watched a dog or cat wake up? The first thing they do is stretch out. Give yourself time to move and allow your body to acquire some energy through the expansion of stretching. The gentle movement will gradually warm and awaken both the body and mind.

    7. Hydrate before you caffeinate

    Research has shown that your cortisol levels are naturally higher for the first one to two hours after you initially wake up. Higher cortisol levels will increase your alertness naturally and minimise the effectiveness of caffeine. A glass of water will rehydrate your brain which is composed of 75% water and in turn help you to begin your day feeling focused and clear-headed.

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    8. Get into a good headspace

    Allow yourself time to be still and focus your mind. Meditation, doing affirmations, practising visualisation exercises, and undertaking controlled breathing can be great tools to focus your positive energy for the day. Research has also found that our bodies have low levels of oxygen first thing in a morning, so a few deep breaths could help re-oxygenate your body, which will keep you more awake during the day. Regular meditation has also been shown to lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, and help relieve stress and fatigue.

    9. Multi-task your morning’s ‘To-do’ list

    Tackle two of your morning’s tasks at once and feel super productive in the process. Being time poor isn’t a valid excuse for failing to get things done anymore.

    I often listen to a podcast whilst exercising, catch up on the news whilst doing housework, and call various family members during my morning walk. There is always something so satisfying about getting two of my morning tasks ticked off at the same time.

    10. Maintain the routine to make it habitual

    Set up a routine that is reproducible and attainable 7 days per week to ensure that you get the most out of it. Routines can be the desirable balance of work and play, providing they are congruent with your goals and intentions.

    Spend this month perfecting your morning routine and enjoy the enhancements it brings to your everyday life. 

    About the author: Laura Smith is an athlete who has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.

    Want more tips and tricks to aid in developing a healthy lifestyle? Connect with Sundried's Personal Trainers on our app, for top tips, free workout plans and more.

    Posted by Aimee Garnett
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