There are tons of misconceptions and pretty lies in the world of fitness and considering today’s abundance with information and advice, it’s getting harder and harder to tell which is which. Want to get leaner, stronger and bigger? Give your program a hard reality check with these 12 debunked fitness myths and get yourself on the right path again!
1. Strength training inevitably makes you bulk up
First of all, women don’t have enough testosterone in their body to bulk up even by performing a hardcore strength training routine for prolonged periods of time. Men have a tendency to bulk up because they have the right amounts of the right hormones, and yet, sometimes it can be hard for them to put on the desired amount of mass as well.
Now, considering that muscles are highly metabolically active, strength training can actually help you lose excess weight much faster than a cardio program by itself. Remember this: the more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn while at rest. Regardless of your goals, strength training is actually your best friend, not an enemy.
2. You can lose fat from specific body parts by exercising them
This gem, widely known as the spot-reduction myth, is the reasons why guys and girls all around the world can be seen performing an endless series of crunches in the hope of melting all belly fat away and revealing a shredded six-pack. Unfortunately, the human body doesn’t work that way. Fat cells are more or less evenly distributed across your entire body, so if you want to lose fat from a certain body part, the only way to achieve that is by reducing your overall body fat.
Either way, your genetics determine which body part will lose its fat reserves first and which will slim down last, not the amount of isolation exercise. Forget the crunches and start training with heavy weights and compound movements and you’ll be able to burn more fat in a shorter period of time.
3. Cardio is the optimal way to lose weight
Well, not quite. If by cardio you mean high-intensity cardio, then that’s not such a bad idea. However, logging endless miles on the treadmill or jogging at moderate speed for an hour every day isn’t really going to melt your body fat away. Instead of that, try a combination of high-intensity cardio and strength training for best results.
In the long term, having more lean muscle mass will stimulate your body to burn more calories at rest, so focus on building stronger muscles instead of just slimming down your waistline and be sure that you’ll get even more than you bargained for. And when speaking of weight loss, don’t forget the importance of creating a slight calorie deficit in terms of a healthy, wholesome diet.
4. Extreme soreness is the most reliable sign of a great workout
Sure, soreness and workout intensity have a very close relationship, but that doesn’t mean that you should rely on the way your muscles feel as the only indicator of an effective gym session. If you’re a beginner, you can expect your muscles to be very sore after working out in the first few months. That means that a substantial amount of stress was applied to the muscle tissue, and nothing more. Actually, you can have a stellar workout without being terribly sore the next day, especially if you allow your body an adequate amount of rest in between workouts. Oh, and if you’re extremely sore after every workout, that may be a sign that you’re overdoing it.
Regardless of what you’ve read or heard, working out at high intensity too frequently is not the brightest idea since it can easily lead to overtraining from putting too much stress on the body, and that ultimately means more pain and less gains. Opt for grueling workouts only twice per week.
5. Sweating like a horse equals a great workout
Sometimes true, sometimes not. The basic reason why you sweat is because the internal temperature of your body increases, so it naturally responds with sweat production as a way of cooling down. Logically, when you exercise, your muscles create heat and your internal temperature increases, but that’s not the only thing that affects the amount of sweat you excrete during a given gym session. Air conditioning, air humidity, external temperature and the type of clothes you’re wearing also have an influence. Besides, some people have a genetic disposition to sweat more than others. So don’t worry if you’re sweating enough and instead focus more on your performance.
6. A cardio routine under 20 minutes is a waste of time
Hell no! In fact, by utilizing high-intensity interval training, you will never need lengthy cardio sessions again. HIIT challenges the respiratory system to work at its max in order to deliver oxygen to the working muscles. So by shortening the duration of the exercise but increasing its intensity, you can both increase its effectiveness and save time. Additionally, HIIT enables you to continue burning calories long after you’ve finished your workout. So ditch the treadmill and try a routine like the Tabata Protocol for superior results.
7. Stretches are a must before a workout
There’s a big difference between static and dynamic stretches. Many studies have shown that performing static stretches before a workout can have a negative effect on the muscles and actually increase the risk of injury during exercise. At the very least, static stretching may inhibit the muscle’s ability to fire, so it’s much better to perform it after the workout. On the other hand, a dynamic warm-up that keeps your body moving will increase your range of motion and muscle elasticity, increase blood flow and efficiently prepare your joints for movement and muscles for optimal activation, ultimately improving your athletic performance.
8. Crunches are the best exercise for your abs
Well, they certainly won’t hurt your abs, but they’re not exactly the best exercise there is. And let’s admit it, they’re pretty boring and ineffective and there are a ton of better ways to strengthen your core, including the midsection. No matter how hard and dedicated you work, if the movement is wrong, you won’t get optimal results. So if you really want a sculpted stomach, forget the crunches and try the ab wheel rollout. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any exercises that can match it in terms of core development.