Diet fads come and go, but some fitness myths have been around forever. Knowledge is power, so get to know the truth behind the myths, because the last thing any of us needs is another excuse not to exercise! Don’t let these common fitness fallacies hold you back from going for your personal best.
1. Crunches will reduce my belly fat
We all wish this were true, but in reality no amount of crunches can guarantee loss of belly fat. Spot reduction, or reduction of fat in a certain body part through targeted exercise, has not been proven.
If you want to lose fat, you must implement cardiovascular activity into your workout regimen and cut calories. Only after burning more calories than you consume does your body begin to use fat for fuel! Genetics also plays a role, so instead of targeting one body part, aim for overall fitness.
2. No pain, no gain
If it doesn’t hurt, you’re not working hard enough, right? Don’t believe it! While soreness is a definite indicator that your body is being worked, you should never feel excessive pain during or after a workout. I ran 20- 40 yard timed sprints with a friend who plays in the NFL and was preparing for his initial training camp conditioning test. Let’s just say I could barely walk for a few days after that challenging workout. Keep in mind that pain is your body’s way of telling you that you are overexerting it, or that you may be doing an exercise incorrectly. When lifting weight, some amount of delayed onset muscle soreness withing 12-48 hours after exercise is normal and means your muscle is recovering and building new muscle (hypertrophy). Give your body proper recovery between workouts. It’s a general rule of thumb to rest a particular muscle group for 48 hours before working it out again.
3. Don’t lift weights if you want to lose weight
You’ll just get bulky, people say. However, fitness professionals advocate cardiovascular activity as well as strength training. Lifting weights strengthens bone density and also increases muscle tone. More muscle helps reduce the risk of bone injury and increases the body’s metabolic rate. Strength training is also used to improve balance in seniors. Just by lifting 5, 7 1/2 or 10-pound weights a few times a week, you’re doing your body a great benefit.
4. Exercising is enough to lose weight
Come on, when is it ever an all or nothing deal? It sounds so tempting to be able to eat whatever you want if you work out frequently, but in reality your body needs regular exercise AND proper nutrition to lose weight and stay healthy. And if you are already at an ideal weight, remember that exercise is not solely for the looking-good factor; regular activity has been shown to reduce many health related risks.
5. Muscle weighs more than fat
This myth is frequently perpetuated, often as an excuse not to work out more. In reality, muscle is denser than fat, i.e. 10 pounds of muscle actually take up less space than 10 pounds of fat. So if you lose fat and replace it with the same weight in muscle, you’ll actually look slimmer!
Myths are common in the fitness world for a reason—staying in good physical shape is hard and requires a long-term approach! What fitness myths have you found that have held you back?