Every January seems the same. Suddenly the once empty streets are full of joggers. Grocery store carts are piled high with fresh fruits and veggies. Americans are resolved once again to get fit, lose weight and be healthier.
That usually lasts until January 15, when most give up because they followed wrong advice they mistook as fact.
Did you know that for every two fitness truths, there’s usually one lie; and sometimes it’s hard to determine which is which. There are also quite a few misconceptions out there, which are also passed from friend to friend.
Don’t let fitness myths keep you from fully achieving your New Year’s fitness goals! We’ve debunked the ten most common myths about working out to help keep you on track and here they are:
Myth #1: Lifting weights will bulk up women.
It’s actually pretty hard – next to impossible — for women to bulk up from a normal strength-training routine, because they don’t have as much testosterone as men. It’s the difference in this hormone level that makes it much easier for men to bulk up. If you’re a woman and weight loss is your goal, strength training can actually help you lean out—but you have to keep your nutrition in check, too.
Myth #2: Running is bad for your knees.
Study after study has proven this old myth untrue. In fact, one study from Brigham Young University found that running appears to reduce inflammation in the knee joint. The authors of the study even say that running may protect knees down the road, and help prevent diseases like osteoarthritis. In fact, most studies have shown that running or jogging does not increase the likelihood of knee issues, which appear to be more genetic. The important thing, in this case, is to listen to your body. If running, or any other activity, is hurting your body, then give it some rest. If it keeps hurting, then see your medical professional.
Myth #3: You can focus on losing fat from certain areas of your body.
As much as we all want to believe it, spot training is just not possible. Because fat cells are distributed across your entire body, to lose fat from a specific spot, like say, your thighs, you need to lose overall body fat through a sensible nutrition and exercise plan.
Myth #4: Doing lots of cardio is the best way to lose weight.
If your goal is weight loss, cycling for endless miles isn’t always the best approach. Yes, traditional cardio workouts will help create a day-to-day calorie deficit (in addition to a healthy diet), which is essential for losing weight. But in the long term, having more lean muscle mass, which comes from strength training, will help your body burn more calories at rest, so a combination of both high-intensity cardio and strength training is best.
Myth #5: Not feeling sore means you didn’t get a good workout.
While soreness and workout intensity are oftentimes connected, how sore or tired your muscles feel isn’t always a good indicator of a solid sweat session—it just means that a significant amount of stress was applied to the tissue. Proper recovery will help prevent achy muscles. Refuel within the first 30 to 45 minutes post-exercise, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep. All of these things can help boost recovery and minimize soreness.
Myth #6: You’ll burn more fat working out on an empty stomach.
While this statement might technically be true—in the morning the body is deprived of nutrients so it will tap fat stores–it is the wrong approach. Working out on an empty stomach burns more muscle, as well, which defeats the purpose of any fat-loss diet. Working out in a fasting state is also sub-optimal, since the lack of proper nutrients will not allow for peak performance.
Myth #7: The more you sweat, the more fat you burn.
Not necessarily. You sweat because your core temperature increases. Your muscles create heat when you exercise, so a tough workout will increase your internal temperature. Humidity also plays a role. It’s not sweating that cools you off; it’s the evaporation (of sweat). You’ll feel like you’re sweating more when it’s humid because sweat can’t evaporate. This is also a reason to be careful when exercising in hot, humid climates, because your body temperature will keep increasing.
Myth #8: You have to do at least 20 minutes of cardio to make it worth your while.
You can get an amazing cardio workout in less time by utilizing high intensity interval training. High-intensity cardio challenges the respiratory system to work efficiently to deliver oxygen to working muscles, and creates an after-burn effect, meaning you continue burning calories after you’re done. One approach is Tabata, which is 20 seconds of hard work, 10 seconds of rest for eight rounds total, which adds up to a four-minute routine.
Myth #9: You need to stretch before a workout.
While it’s true that you shouldn’t just jump right into a workout, dynamic warm-ups are what you need, so you can save those static stretches for afterwards. Your pre-workout goal should be to improve mobility and elasticity in the muscles. This is best done with foam rolling and a dynamic warm-up, where you keep your body moving (instead of holding stretches still). This prepares your body for work and helps increase your range of motion, which means you can get deeper into exercises and strengthen more of those muscles.
Myth #10: You should work out every day.
Definitely not true. When you work out, and especially when you’re strength training, you’re breaking down muscle fibers so they can rebuild stronger. However, to do this, you need to give your body time to recover. Aim for one to two days per week of active recovery rest days, which means doing something that doesn’t put stress on your body, like gentle stretching or a walk.
The Bottom Line
Before you begin any new workout plan, don’t listen to myths! In fact, don’t even take our word for it – speak to your doctor and be sure you are getting solid information and facts.
At Tennis Life Magazine, we believe in surpassing your limits – and that means letting go of old outdated information which doesn’t empower you to be better than your best. By making sure you have good information, you can help to achieve a healthy, happy lifestyle!