• 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
  • 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
  • Train Yourself to Achieve your New Years Resolutions

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    A new year is the perfect time to adopt more desirable behaviours in the hope to live a happier and healthier life. More often than not these aspirations will not manifest into victory.

    My intention for this blog is to identify the common errors people make when deciding on their new year’s resolutions and how you can construct a keep-able promise in 2020.

    #1 Too much too soon

    Error:

    Setting unrealistic goals at the start of the year in the hope that you can transform yourself overnight.

    Resolution:

    Instead of trying to change everything at once, it is better to make incremental changes that can be more easily achieved. By setting realistic goals that can be altered over time, success is more likely.

    Example:

    If your goal is to start going to the gym, then begin by working out once or twice a week. Once you have this mastered, consider adding an extra visit. Trying to go from no exercise to working out every day is not the way forward.

    #2 Not identifying your ‘why’

    Error:

    Not understanding the reasoning behind a resolution.

    Resolution:

    Having a good motivational drive is integral to success. It’s important to identify why the goal is important to you on a personal level.

    Example:

    You may want to work harder at University, but it is important to uncover why is this important to you? Maybe it is because you want to graduate and secure your dream job. Whatever your reasoning, make sure you identify it and use it to motivate your behaviours.

    #3 Wishy-washy goals

    Error:

    Setting a haphazard goal with no specificity or personalisation.

    Resolution:

    Keep the goal relevant to you and include fine details. The more specific you can make your goal, the more vivid it will be in your imagination and the more encouraged you will be to succeed.

    Example:

    Adopting a healthy diet is always a popular resolution but this leaves much ambiguity. Think about what a healthy diet for YOU would look like. For example, ‘I will eat five portions of fruit or vegetables each day’ is much more specific than ‘I will eat a healthier diet’.

     

    SMART Goals

    #4 Not checking in

    Error:

    Not measuring or tracking progress will result in the inability to know how you are doing and whether changes need to be adopted for success.

    Resolution:

    Keepings a written record of your progress with help to sustain the ‘can do’ attitude, keep you accountable, and ensure you are moving in the right direction.

    Example

    If your goal is to drink more water, then the only way to know if you are succeeding is to track how much you are drinking each day.

    #5 Not setting the date

    Error:

    Without a deadline of achievement, motivation can dwindle and often the attitude of ‘I will do it tomorrow’ is adopted.

    Resolution:

    Set an end date for targets to keep the pressure on and stop any avoidance of the tasks at hand.

    Example:

    If your goal is to run a 10km then enter yourself in an event at the start of the year. The pressure of a looming race is sure to keep you motivated.

    #6 All or nothing attitude

    Error:

    Giving up completely when something goes wrong.

    Resolution:

    Accepting that slip-ups are likely and are a part of the behaviour change process. The ability to pick yourself up and carry on after a setback is vital for triumph.

    Example:

    Does the occasional sweet treat completely undo an overall healthy diet? No, of course not! As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

    #7 Enduring not enjoying

    Error:

    No one can bring themselves to do something they hate consistently, so planning a resolution that you will dislike doing is not going to work.

    Resolution:

    The best plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life and one which you can appreciate.

    Example:

    Participating in a sport you love rather than dragging yourself to the gym will be much more effective in any fitness venture.

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

    How do I create a Workout Plan?

    Getting the right support for your training plan will mean the difference between success and failure. You do not need to identify your SMART goals alone. If you want some free tips, connect with the Sundried Personal Trainers on our app.

    Posted by Aimee Garnett
  • Why Magnesium Is Essential For Athletes

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    Whether you’re an avid runner, a recreational lifter, or a lifelong tennis player, you know that what you eat is key both for optimal performance as well as recovery. However, some people are so enthusiastic about fuelling their workouts with the right ingredients that they neglect the equally important role of their recovery. After all, this is when all of your muscle growth happens and the effects of your training take place to help you advance.

    In addition to your macros, which are always vital for your health and well-being, taking care of your micro-nutrient intake will help you recuperate faster and restore your energy more efficiently. One mineral in particular deserves more attention for improving your post-workout healing – magnesium!

    Magnesium’s main roles

    Just like every other essential micro-nutrient, magnesium is a meddler – it plays many vital roles in numerous metabolic processes in the body. This minuscule mineral takes part in over 300 biochemical reactions, from how your body generates energy, how it utilises other micro-nutrients you eat in your food, all the way to protecting your very DNA.

    Your vital organs such as you brain and heart heavily depend on your magnesium supplies to function properly every day. However, it’s also the building block of your bones, just like calcium, and it balances your cholesterol levels, allowing your muscles to relax and recover from physical strain. Even with just these several functions, it’s already clear how crucial magnesium is for everyone who leads an active life, since your energy and performance are based in magnesium availability, as much as any other essential macro and micro-nutrient.

    Deciding on your needs

    The general guidelines when it comes to this handy mineral state that an average man requires approximately 400 to 420mg of magnesium per day, while women need slightly less, in the realm of 310 to 320mg per day. However, these numbers fluctuate depending on your lifestyle, any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, how active you are every day, what your diet consists of, and whether you are pregnant.

    Then again, athletes – and endurance athletes in particular – may need more magnesium to help their bodies cope with muscle soreness and cramps as well as arduous routines. You don’t necessarily need to be a competitive athlete to find yourself depleted of magnesium, since you may need a higher dosage than someone who exercises significantly less in terms of both intensity and frequency – which is where your doctor should step in and check if you should up your intake.

    Sources of magnesium

    This crucial mineral is as hard to come by as it is essential to your well-being, making it one of those elusive dietary requirements that is hard to meet, especially through diet alone. Nuts and seeds such as almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and dairy as well as dark greens such as spinach and broccoli have high amounts of magnesium, although its bio-availability may vary. Typically, your body will absorb as little as 30-40% of the eaten magnesium, which often leads athletes to rethink their diets. 

    For those who exercise vigorously, it’s often recommended to take magnesium supplements in order to improve their energy levels and recover faster. They are designed to be absorbed more easily without causing any harm to your digestive tract, increasing your daily intake without increasing your calories through magnesium-packed foods.

    Symptoms of a deficiency

    Although some of the following symptoms are very commonly associated with other health issues and they can be seen as mere reactions to a stressful situation, it’s important to listen to your body and notice if these symptoms persist:

    • General fatigue
    • Headaches
    • Muscle spasms and cramps
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Carb cravings
    • Numbness in your hands and feet
    • Irregular heartbeat

    If you feel that your workouts are becoming increasingly difficult even though you’re resting properly and not increasing the intensity of your workouts, chances are that you are starting to experience a magnesium deficiency. It’s best to talk to your physician and do a few tests to confirm if you have this particular issue in order to find the best solution – your body will thank you later!

    Key perks to expect

    Finally, as difficult as it may be for some to believe that this one micro-nutrient is so priceless for your muscles, bones, and energy, you can begin by getting a deeper insight into how you’ll feel when you actually provide your body with enough of this mineral.

    • Improved muscle gains – Since magnesium is one of those vital ingredients in the process called muscle protein synthesis, which occurs well after you finish your workout, it stimulates your muscles to repair and build new tissue. Without it, your muscles cannot repair and recover properly, making it very difficult to advance in terms of improving your physique with lean muscle.
    • Better carb and fat metabolism – Yes, this little rascal also plays a key role in how your body uses carbs to generate energy, and how efficient you are at burning fat. So, if your goal is to improve your body composition and replace those love handles with lean muscle, magnesium is your body’s best friend.
    • Quality sleep – As the third pillar of a healthy lifestyle, right next to diet and exercise, sleep is connected to your magnesium levels. Enough of this mineral helps your body relax after training, reduces inflammation in your body, replenishes energy stores, and soothes your entire central nervous system to sleep.

    There can be no muscle protein synthesis, or restored energy without sleep, so magnesium is the ingredient that closes this recovery cycle and turns it into a powerful bodily process you need to advance in your athletic endeavors and stay healthy.

    About the author: Luke is a fitness and health blogger at Ripped.me and a great fan of the gym and a healthy diet. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • How To Stay Healthy While At University

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    Especially if your university accommodation is catered, it can be tough to stay healthy at college. Beat the Freshman 15 by following our tips for staying healthy while you study. 

    Catered Accommodation

    I have always loved cooking and adore being able to use fresh fruit and vegetables to make my meals. So, deciding to live in catered over non-catered halls was a tough decision, but eventually I gave into the idea of Sunday brunch always being ready for me. However, this meant I sacrificed a kitchen and also a lot of freedom over what I could eat and when.

    The food in my hall was tasty but a lot of the time very unhealthy. Combinations such as pasta with gravy and fish and chips with samosas came up regularly. I found myself having to creatively avoid these options by becoming a part-time vegetarian. This worked most of the time, but I was still being served pasta a lot or puffed pastry with cheese…still not my idea of a healthy balanced diet. To my hall’s credit, there was a salad bar, but this was the same every single day and got very boring. I ended up ordering in food a lot, but even then, those options were also unhealthy with pizza and Chinese usually being the winners amongst my friends.

    coffee shop students weight loss fitness health university college

    Eventually, I turned vegan as I realised there were only 4 other vegans in my hall and therefore the food was cooked specially for us and with a lot more care than to feed the other 300 students. Other than veganism (which was broken pretty regularly by the odd chicken breast or egg) I managed to learn a few tricks in order to stay healthy whilst living my best student life. I didn’t want to restrict myself and I still wanted to have fun. Drinking is also a big dilemma as a student as nights-out are unavoidably part of the experience.

    Tips for staying healthy at University

    The following are tips anyone can follow in order not to gain lots of weight without having to go vegan:

    1. Make the most of your university gym.
    2. Do not get a late-night McDonald's after a night of drinking. Instead, save yourself a banana and put it in your room so you can eat it when you get home.
    3. Try not to eat anything fried. Curly fries were often my weakness.
    4. If you know you’re going to get hungry after the gym, buy some carrots and celery to snack on.
    5. If your university's gym has a cafe, the food there is more likely to be healthier.
    6. Keep yogurt and seeds in your fridge so you always have a healthy start to the day.
    7. Take a hand-held food processor to university with you. This means you can whip-up smoothies (or even soup) without having a kitchen. 
    8. Take a nice selection of herbal teas and make sure you have your own thermos - I love the Sundried eco coffee cup. Most cafes will give you a discount on coffee when you have your own reusable cup.
    9. If you’re going to drink alcohol (which I did) drink tequila or vodka with soda and lime as they contain fewer calories than drinks like wine and beer.
    10. If you’re going to order take away try to go for Thai, Vietnamese or Sushi (always better than pizza!)

    By Siena Barry-Taylor

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
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