The fitness world is full of stories and advice on the best ways in which we can achieve our goals, most of which we absorb without any second thought. However, as with any industry, fitness myths pop up frequently and create misconceptions and misunderstandings that spread like wildfire before experts can put out the flames. Sport science experts are constantly updating research and findings. As your online polo fitness coach it is my job to keep you informed on fact and fiction and to keep you on the right track to maximize your chances of achieving your potential. Here are some of the most common myths debunked for you.
Weight training will make me bulky
One of the most common misconceptions in fitness training is that using weights will automatically turn you into the incredible hulk! Ladies, this is simply not true, you need a lot more testosterone and some serious power lifting to be in with a chance of resembling the Rock! Weight training is critical for strengthening the body, toning muscles whilst losing fat, improving your metabolism and preventing your body from becoming worn out. It is the number 1 method to increase your core stability and helps you improve your balance by being able to support your own weight more effectively. Keeping you up off the saddle whilst riding and increasing the distance you are able to hit the ball. Weight training as well as cardiovascular activity combined are great for helping you raise your game.
If you exercise long and hard enough you will always get the results you want
Everyone responds to workouts differently because of our genetic makeup. Personal development of strength, endurance and core balance is completely different for each player and it’s definitely worth investing some time in finding a routine that works for you. Often shorter, more regular exercises can have a greater impact and are likely to be easier to keep up throughout the season.
If I am not sore the next day, I didn’t work hard enough
Many players I have worked with believed that in order to improve their overall performance they needed to endure a ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality. Whilst a little discomfort when pushing yourself to reach that next goal is ok, regularly experiencing soreness from your fitness routine probably means you are over-doing it or not doing it correctly. By over-doing exercises you do not allow your muscles recovery time which is an essential part of improving your performance. More than anything its important to recognize risks for re-igniting previous injuries. Polo is a high intensity sport that demands good core strength, flexibility and balance, therefore its crucial to make sure you are doing exercises in the right way.
A pre-match stretching session is the perfect warm up
Whilst stretching is an essential activity for increasing mobility and flexibility, it cannot be substituted to mean ‘warm up’ because the act of it doesn’t increase muscle temperature and prepare you for a game or training session. Static stretching, especially, prior to a session can actually reduce the power and performance of muscles. Stretching when your muscles aren’t warmed up, loosens tendons and destabilizes your muscles meaning you are less prepared for any vigorous exercise. The reason warm ups are an essential part of your routine are to primarily increase the blood flow and oxygen to your working muscles and to prepare them for the highly intensive activity to come. However once blood is pumping, muscles and connective tissues are more receptive to elongating. As polo players, stretching is essential for increasing your range of motion and should be incorporated into any routine, but must not be mistaken for warming up.
The allure of sports drinks
For any workout that lasts under an hour, water will suffice to rehydrate your body. Sports drinks are designed to replenish the body with electrolytes and carbohydrates lost during a continuous, intense and serious sweat workout. They are also FULL of sugar. During shorter workouts your body uses its plentiful store of carbs and electrolytes so continuously sipping on water is sufficient.
The fitness benefits of mind-body exercises like Tai Chi and Yoga are questionable
There is a huge stigma that surrounds exercises such as Tai Chi and Yoga BUT, as polo players, they pretty much hit all the areas in which you need to work on to excel on the field. Flexibility, balance, strength, co-ordination and focus are targeted in these practices. Gym not your cup of tea? Try a class of Tai Chi, you never know It might take you to that next handicap level.
I hope this has cleared up some confusion and misunderstandings of fitness fables and hope to see you incorporating weights into part of your routine, making time everyday for a small routine or maybe even becoming a Tai chi guru.
Until next time, stay active and keep healthy,
Your fitness for polo coach,