GO HARD OR GO HOME

Up for a bit of both? Fol­low our plan

Cosmopolitan (UK) - - Contents -

Never be­fore has the fit­ness land­scape looked like this. It used to be enough to show up at your lo­cal au­thor­ity gym, join the ‘Legs, Bums and Tums’ class and dance around to a bit of Kylie for 30 min­utes be­fore hit­ting the steam room for an hour. But the most pop­u­lar work­outs of to­day look very dif­fer­ent, with more and more gyms pack­ing their sched­ules with hard­core classes. You know the ones, they promise to burn 1,000+ calo­ries in a sin­gle class and even come com­plete with warn­ings (Gym­box’s Flat­line class ad­ver­tised it­self as ‘the most dan­ger­ous gym class in the world’ – nice). And while these types of classes are a fast route to shap­ing up, they of­ten yield a less ex­cit­ing side ef­fect: in­jury.

It’s no co­in­ci­dence that the rise in shoul­der, hip and knee prob­lems in the past few years has co­in­cided with our new­found lust for burnout work­outs, says Eu­gene Yim, a sports medicine spe­cial­ist with Hoag Ortho­pe­dic In­sti­tute. Ag­gres­sive gym time can also lead to stress frac­tures, sprains and mus­cle tears, he says. And it gets worse. Doc­tors are see­ing a con­di­tion called rhab­domy­ol­y­sis, a se­vere mus­cu­lar break­down that can lead to kid­ney dam­age, even­tu­ally ap­pear­ing in those who go to the ex­treme. (De­hy­dra­tion and high tem­per­a­ture while you work out can in­crease your risk.)

STEADY DOES IT

You may think you can han­dle that hour-long HIIT class, fol­lowed by body pump and kick­box­ing, but un­less you are Usain Bolt (on a good day), your body prob­a­bly can’t. No mat­ter how fit you are, go­ing from zero to 60 can set you up for ma­jor mus­cle strain, says cer­ti­fied trainer Andy Galpin.* The so­lu­tion? Ease your­self into it. Be­fore you take that high-in­ten­sity class, spend four to six weeks grad­u­ally in­creas­ing the po­tency of your reg­u­lar work­outs. Think adding short bursts of speed to your car­dio rou­tine, or lift­ing heav­ier weights with fewer reps. If you’re more of a yogi, end your reg­u­lar ses­sions with some burpees or moun­tain climbers. Spend 30 sec­onds do­ing ei­ther move, rest­ing for 30 sec­onds in be­tween. When four rounds sev­eral times a week starts to feel pretty easy, you’re ready.

BE­WARE THE BINGE

You know the feel­ing after com­plet­ing a class, when you feel un­stop­pable and im­me­di­ately book in again for the next day? Hold your horses. Rest­ing be­tween classes isn’t for wimps. It’s for those who un­der­stand how to work out smarter. If you don’t give your body enough time to re­cover, your risk of in­jury will sky­rocket. In a study by the Univer­sity of New Mex­ico, boffins found that re­cov­ery from ex­er­cise is es­sen­tial for im­prove­ment, per­for­mance and the abil­ity to deal with emo­tional, phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal stres­sors. In other words, it’s not only help­ful for your body, but for your mind, too. Cap your tough­est work­outs at four per week, and opt for a lighter sweat ses­sion if you’re still sore from the last one, says Galpin. You don’t have to swear off all ex­er­cise in the in­terim. Just stick to steady-state car­dio, yoga or swim­ming.

PUSH IT… BUT NOT TOO HARD

That spin in­struc­tor yelling in your face? Yep, they

should be do­ing that – but take care. When you work your­self to ex­haus­tion, your form fal­ters, leav­ing you vul­ner­a­ble to in­juries. An RPE scale (rate of per­ceived ex­er­tion) is used in fit­ness to gauge the level at which you should be to reach op­ti­mum train­ing. It is rec­om­mended that you stick to an RPE of six to 11 out of 20. You should be able to hold a con­ver­sa­tion, but with slight dif­fi­culty, and be sweat­ing, but able to push through. You mustn’t reach the point of to­tal mus­cle ex­haus­tion or have se­vere dif­fi­culty catch­ing your breath. If your trainer tries to push you harder, just say no. You paid for this – you get to de­cide.

DRINK MORE THAN YOU SWEAT

You know you need water when you work out. That’s a given. But do you know how much? Be­cause it’s more than you think. By the end of a spin­ning class you’ll have lost up to a litre of sweat. And sweat­ing out more than two per cent of your weight (2.8 pounds if you’re 10 stone) re­duces ex­er­cise per­for­mance and ham­pers blood flow to your or­gans. Your goal: gulp ½ to ¾ of a litre of fluid – one medium-sized water bot­tle’s worth – dur­ing a 45-minute class. And no, sug­ary en­ergy drinks do not count.

“Ag­gres­sive gym time can lead to stress frac­tures”

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