Debunking myths about fitness is one of my favourite hobbies. I must admit, I am not a fitness professional. But I’ve been working out for more than 10 years. And you can say I’ve collected some experience along the way.
When people are starting to work out, they read everything and anything. And the worst part is they believe in most of the things they read. Now, you can check the website for some diets and exercises. But today, I want to talk about some of the common myths people have about fitness.
Before we go any further, I want to say something. Do not believe everything you hear. Check the facts yourself. As Ronald Reagan once learned “trust, but verify”. Let’s go.
Myth No. 1
Myth: My friends’ workout routine will also help me lose weight
Fact: Workout programs should be individually tailored for everyone
Let’s start with one of the most common myths. Look, yes, working out in groups is the trend today. And it is way cheaper than taking individual classes. Personally, I would advise you that if you can afford individual classes, go for it.
But in any case. Even the activity itself. Some people lose weight just by running. But it might not work out for you. Chances are, your body reacts differently. And you need to try a different activity.
Some people might get their muscles by lifting weights. Some people get their muscles by swimming. There are so many factors you need to take into consideration. In the same way, we do not think the same, we do not react the same to exercises.
Myth No. 2
Myth: Work out as often as possible
Fact: Rest between workouts should last for upwards of 2 or 3 days
When I was younger, and when I was starting in the gym, I thought that if I work out every day, I will get results quicker. After three weeks, I was disappointed. I couldn’t lift a thing. My body was exhausted. Some of that was a result of poor diet, as back then I didn’t know I need to combine my diet with my workout.
But in any case, your muscles need time to refresh. If you work out every day, you’ll put too much pressure on them. It doesn’t matter even if you work out a different set of muscles. I still believe that three days per week is more than enough. And then one day of cardio or yoga. That will essentially give you a day of rest between workouts.
Myth No. 3
Myth: Your workout is effective if your muscles are sore afterwards
Fact: Pain is caused by microtrauma to muscle fibres
Microtrauma is a general term people give to small injuries to the body. In terms of muscle issues, microtrauma can mean micro-tearing of a muscle fibre or the connective tissue. In any case, it is something that happens when you do not give your muscles a rest.
Microtrauma is actually very closely related to the previous myth, which is working out on a daily basis. Too much stress will eventually cause an injury. And no, you do not have to feel pain after every workout. The best workout is when you sweat, but you feel energized after the workout. Not exhausted or sore.
4. Myth No. 4
Myth: Stretching helps reduce muscles soreness
Fact: Stretching is necessary to relax your muscles
One thing people underestimate is the value of stretching. I did it as well. Especially when I was younger. After the workout, I just picked up my stuff and went home. But stretching is a crucial element of your workout. Every workout starts with warming up and then finishes with stretching. If you stretch properly, you will actually feel your muscles.
And if you want to understand better the value of stretching, read about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. One of the greatest NBA players in the history of the sport managed to play until he was 41. He credits yoga and stretching for prolonging his career.
5. Myth No. 5
Myth: The longer the workout is the better results you get
Fact: The most important factor is the quality of the workout, not its duration
Another myth that people believe in when they start working out. A quality workout cannot last for more than 40-50 minutes. Add five minutes for warming up, and five minutes for stretching afterwards, and that is it.
There is no way in hell that you can work out for more than 1 hour. Even professional athletes do not work out for more than that. They take breaks. They have multiple workouts per day, and they take breaks in between. And they consume amino acids and proteins to refresh their body. They get massages in between workouts. So, to sum it up, a quality workout lasts about 40 minutes. That is the effective time. No, I am not going to count the two hours you might spend talking to friends while in the gym.
6. Myth No. 6
Myth: Power exercises make women look bulky
Fact: Power exercises makes a woman’s body fitter and more beautiful
One of the biggest fears my female friends have is that they will look like a man. Well, I have a friendly instructor that does pushups on a daily basis, even more than I do. And she has one of the best bodies I’ve seen.
Yes, lifting a weight of 10 to 20 pounds will build your muscles. But with a good trainer, you can do lots of power exercises that will tone your body perfectly. You will look like a man and bulky only if you lift 100lbs and more.
7. Myth No. 7
Myth: When you workout you can eat whatever you want
Fact: The desired result can be achieved with healthy eating
It took me two years to understand this. When I and my friend first started working out, we went to a burger house before the workout. And we couldn’t do much in the gym. And we ate whatever we could find afterwards. Chips, cokes and similar junk food were part of our diet.
But if you want results, you just have to eat properly. Now, I am not going to say that you should eliminate all junk food from your diet. You can get some every now and then. Even professional athletes have a “cheat day”. But you cannot get your desired results with consuming just junk food. You need some healthy foods like fruits, veggies, and lots of protein.
8. Myth No. 8
Myth: Exercising while wearing neoprene will help burn fat faster
Fact: The “greenhouse effect” is harmful to your health
You can read a lot on the “greenhouse effect”. And you’ll find different opinions. Personally, I do not like it. I do not believe to be better for burning more fat and calories.
Your body needs oxygen. Your skin needs oxygen. And when you trap yourself into a neoprene clothing, your skin does not breathe. So, wear a sports shirt, but not necessarily a neoprene shirt. The best option is dry-fit clothing that has some holes for your skin to breathe.
9. Myth No. 9
Myth: In the first instance you lose weight in the stubborn areas
Fact: In the first instance you burn body fat in areas you didn’t target
Whenever a friend and I start talking, and the said friend needs to lose weight in his belly, I always tell him/her the same thing. Do not expect to get a six-pack after a month or two. Not even after six months. Losing belly fat is the hardest part. And it cannot be achieved unless you stick to a professional diet. Every bit of chocolate you eat goes to your belly fat.
But if you stick to your workout routine, and to a healthy diet, eventually, you’ll get the desired results. They will come later rather than sooner. But the trick is to believe in yourself and in the routine. Set your goals, and stick to them. You’ll notice losing fat in areas you didn’t even target in the beginning.
10. Myth No. 10
Myth: The scales reveal the results of your workout
Fact: Using measuring tape is the best way to keep track of your progress
With the risk of scaring you off, let me say this. When I started my workout with a personal trainer a year and a half ago, I was 154lbs. Now I am 165lbs, and I look leaner and much better. There is a simple explanation for that.
It depends on what your goal is. To lose weight, you need to burn calories. But even if you gain weight, you will end up looking better and leaner. The simple explanation is that you gain muscles, and you lose fat. And muscles are leaner than fat. So you are getting leaner while gaining some weight. It might sound strange and depressing, but that is the fact. Use a measuring tape to see how you are doing. Forget the scale.