Fitness Myths: What to Believe?
Are you constantly looking up fitness advice only to find SO MUCH contradicting information you could actually swim in? With access to loads of advice and data, it can be hard to fish through what is accurate and what is not. Like most sciences, the fitness world is constantly revealing new research that busts many long-held beliefs on how your body in exercise really works.
So to keep your head above water, let’s sift through some of the muck to find the truth in some of the greatest exercise myths!
Myth: Ab exercises like crunches will burn belly fat.
Truth: Crunches may be the best known ab exercise, but doing them while also expecting your 16 year old six pack to return could actually be hindering your results. When you were in your teens, that six pack may have come with little to no effort, but as you aged, your once skinny, toned abdomen slowly crept into disappearance. This is because when you are still in developmental stages, your body is working on storing fat around organs in order to protect and insulate some of your body’s most important hardware. Once the fat has been stored, your body finds other places to store its energy supply (on top of muscle). Doing exercises like crunches can certainly help tone the abdominal muscles, however the main goal is to burn some calories to get rid of the fat on top of your abdomen. Doing regular cardiovascular exercise and high intensity interval training will help shed the fat that has been hiding that six pack all this time.
Myth: The more you sweat, the more calories you burn.
Truth: Do you find that you can sweat even from doing activities as simple as walking to and from the car? Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that your nasty sweat stains are your body’s way of ridding of some unnecessary calories. Sweat is a biological response that helps regulate your internal body temperature by cooling your external organ, the skin. Your sweat response may be due to physical activity, nervousness, illness, hormonal changes, allergies, heat etc. Wondering why are you sweating more doing the same activity than the lady next to you? Well, because our genetic makeup is different, some may have larger pores than others causing your sweat response to yield more than your counterpart. So while sweat dripping from your eyebrows may be a good sign of a hard workout, it isn’t the best indicator of calorie burn.
Myth: Running is bad for your knees.
Truth: Running has been said to wear out your knees quicker due to the constant impact on the joints. Contrary to popular belief, running has not been linked to poor knee health. In fact, runners and non-runners alike have similar knee health in their later years. The greatest cause of what has been labeled “runner’s knee” is actually running with improper form, running on an existing injury, carrying excessive weight while running, running with weak or imbalanced muscles, wearing the wrong shoes, running on too hard of a surface, or running too quick too soon. Jumping into any impact activity can be risky when your body is not ready.
Nonetheless, running has been thought to be a primary cause of arthritis in the joint in which is one of the greatest causes of joint and knee pain. Research now supports that running can postpone the onset of osteoarthritis by encouraging blood flow and helping maintain a healthy overall weight. Studies have also revealed that osteoarthritis typically occurs with aging and can be genetically predisposed rather than caused by the impact of running itself. So if you catch the drift, running is not the knee problem; it’s actually the other influencing factors that can go awry. Try mixing up your cardio by changing running surfaces or doing different cardio exercises like the bike, row machine, elliptical or a high intensity interval class. Don’t forget to allow your body rest if you feel an injury coming on!
Myth: More gym time is better.
Truth: Despite your body’s aches and pains, you have been going non-stop at the gym since you first joined because you are ready to witness the fruits of your labor. STOP RIGHT THERE! Having a rest day or two may be the most important of maintaining an optimal fitness regimen. Your body needs to recover from the constant pounding you are putting on it during exercise. Overtraining, especially using the same muscle group(s) over and over can can increase your likelihood of injury. In fact, experts in the fitness industry may recommend rest periods upwards of 48-72 hours to allow recovery and prevent injury especially for elite athletes or heavy lifters. The best rule of thumb is to always listen to your body. If your body is becoming achy or even injured from your constant push in the gym, it may be time for a day of rest! For most, one day off per week from both strength and cardio may work best. But, be wise — if you are just beginning your exercise regimen, try taking every other day off and gradually build for your endurance. Pay close attention to your body to ensure you continue to improve and your muscles have time to recover. Rest day is the best day!
Myth: Lifting weights will bulk you up.
Truth: Bulking is a term given for adding muscle mass while toning is a term typically used to describe a leaner, fitter physique. It has been said that lifting light weights with high repetition will actually help you tone whereas lifting heavy weights for less reps will help you bulk. This is FALSE! Lifting light weights for high reps can build muscular endurance as well as burn some calories. However, lifting heavy weights can build the strength of the muscle, burn calories, provide you with a tone, muscular physique and even help you burn more fat at rest due to muscle retention. Women often tend to stay away from heavy weights because of this stereotype.
Here is my caution to females everywhere! It’s ok to use those strong muscles with no fear of looking like your Hulk-like male counterpart. Women actually tend to have less muscle tissue in comparison to fat than men. They also have less testosterone, which makes the bulking aspect of lifting weights a little less likely for us females. If you are performing 30 reps of an exercise true to form with no problem, this may be a good sign you are ready to add some weight. Try the weight just above normal and perform 8-15 reps. If you are still not having trouble performing 15 reps at this weight, you can continue to gradually build up until 8-12 reps is your standard maximum. So ladies, I am not saying to go grab the heaviest weight in the gym, but certainly do not be shy to go a little heavier on the lifting if your goal is have more muscle and look tone.
I hope these fitness myth busters can get you out of the waters to drier ground!