I have constructed a list of fitness myths that need to die. Carry on reading to understand these myths and misconceptions that could be holding you back.
No pain no gain true or false?
Your training programs should not be painful. You want to challenge your body, get out of your comfort zone but actual pain should not be a part of it. If you experience pain when working out something is wrong. You have probably developed or are developing an injury and if you persist it will get worse and could result in your training coming to an end. Listen to your body as pain is a sign to stop.
It simply isn’t worth it as pain caused by exercise can often mean – electrolyte imbalance, mental burnout, injured muscles, damaged joints or all of the above. You then will not be able to work out for a significant period of time meaning that you cannot achieve your fitness goal.
Try and mix up your workouts to avoid strain on the same muscles over and over again. This allows you to get a well-balanced workout and body and the whole body can benefit.
Stretching before and after a workout helps to reduce the after workout aches we often all experience. This is vital in preventing injuries and assisting with muscle recovery.
Mythbuster – fatigue, sweat and endurance is all required for an effective workout but pain should not be a part of it.
Lifting heavy weights bulks you up
Lifting weights helps you burn more calories than you would if you were to just do cardio. When you do cardio you burn and when you stop you stop burning the calories. When you lift weights you burn calories and then continue to burn calories for a considerable amount of time after your workout has finished. Burning calories makes you lose weight so this would suggest lifting weights contributes to making you smaller not bigger.
Weight training is used to shape your body and it’s your choice how you plan to shape it. If you want a perkier bum – squats and deadlifts or if you would like shapely toned arms you can work on your upper body.
Weight training alone will not bulk up your body, in order to bulk up you have to bulk up your diet as well.
Mythbuster – If you do weight training you aren’t going to wake up with Popeys muscles unless you’re eating a hell of a lot of food to match.
Exercise machines beat free weights
Both have their pros and cons
Exercise machines are great for beginners and they help with form and getting the movement correct. Exercise machines are also very easy to learn and makes what could be a complex movement, easy.
You use more muscles when using free weights. When using free weights the large muscles and all the tiny ones we are hardly aware of are hard at work. This means you are able to get the most out of your workout.
Mythbuster – personally free weights win for me every time. I rarely use assisted machines apart from the leg press. I just believe that you should only need to do what your body is capable of doing alone.
Running on a treadmill is just as good as running outside
Running outdoors is definitely more beneficial than running on the treadmill and here are some reasons why:
- Weather, the wind, heat and cold all set up various different conditions that make our bodies work harder to adapt and so burn more calories. The wind give us resistance we have to work hard to fight against, the heat and the cold make our bodies work harder to regulate our temperatures therefore burning more as we exercise
- Running outside is far more interesting than the treadmill. People often say that a minute on a treadmill can feel close to an hour but this is quite different when running outside. I quite enjoy running through the park on a sunny day as it’s a great way to be outside, get some fresh air and see the countryside.
Mythbuster – How does running on a treadmill compare to running outside? Well the answer is simple, outside the terrain varies so gives you a better workout than the consistent level terrain that the treadmill offers.
You can’t work out when you’re sick
Winter is coming and flu season is upon us, so does this mean we can’t work out when we catch a bug? This is absolute rubbish, in fact, if I have a fluy symptoms or even a hangover I find it great to sweat out the germs. Once the germs are out of your system you must still be mindful that you are not at 100% of your health. Take care to have a warm shower and wear warm dry clothes after a workout. Continue with any medication, vitamin C, warm teas and soups and get plenty of sleep. In no time you will be feeling great and smashing the gym again.
I recommend working out to boost your immune system but please don’t attempt anything too strenuous on the body. Perhaps a light jog and some medium to light weights will do the job. You have to remember your body is not at its best so recovery is harder than when you are at optimum health.
Also if you have anything more serious than a hangover or the flu please seek medical advice if you want to continuing working out.
Mythbuster – exercising regularly will reduce the chances of you getting sick in the first place. If you have flue like symptoms or a hangover, toughen up and sweat it out, this will make you feel better quicker in the long run.
Crunches are the best exercise to give you abs
There are so many exercises that are amazing for your core it is almost rude to suggest that crunches are the best. Here is a list of just some of the exercises that can be used for core exercise and strength:
- Front plank
- Leg lowering
- Dying bug
- Long lever front plank
- Side plank
- Side plank with leg lift
- Side plank band row
Let me put some perspective on this. Think of someone who is overweight and they do 100 crunches a day in the hope that they will get abs. They will indeed strengthen their core muscles and underneath the layers of fat there will be stronger muscles but this will not be visible. You have to shed the fat first with a combination of cardio, weight training and a healthy diet. In time you will then see the results you are looking for – ABS.
Mythbuster – this is an outdated approach to abs. In fact as they say, abs are made in the kitchen. All exercise contributes to abs but all of the exercises listed above target the core muscles along with cardio, weight training and a healthy balanced diet.
Running beats walking
The ultimate goal for everyone is health and fitness so walking and or running is pushing you in the right direction. I would say after this it would depend on what you want to achieve.
Going for a leisurely country walk will increase your steps and indeed increase calories burned but you will have to walk a lot further to burn the same amount of calories if you were to run the same route.
Walking on an incline on the treadmill has a very similar calorie burn rate to that of running of a flat surface.
Personally my preference is walking on an incline. This increases fitness, burns calories and isn’t so aggressive on the knees. I also find that it maintains and increases leg and booty muscles. If your interested in keeping your shape I would opt for incline walks instead of flat running but if your main focus is weightloss definitely start running as much as possible.
If you look at Olympic long distance runners you can often see they have a very flat body shape. It is of course a matter of preference but I like to keep my shape hence the incline approach.
Mythbuster– if you run on the flat and walk the same distance running will of course burn more calories over a shorter period.
Both running and walking are great to improve health and fitness
Running on a treadmill and walking at an incline burn at a similar rate so are equal.
Running on the flat makes you skinny all over (with good diet) whilst incline walks maintain your body shape.
You can target your fat burn
As mentioned previously we know that doing 100 crunches a day isn’t going to give us abs, just as doing 500 tricep-dips isn’t going to get rid of our bingo wings. It is making sure you do a well-rounded exercise targeting the entire body and of course with a key focus on our problem areas.
Mythbuster – Targeted fat loss or spot reduction is an absolute myth – there is no scientific evidence to suggest that this is at all possible.
Read more on this in a great article written by The Body Coach.
You shouldn’t work out on an empty stomach (fasted or fed workout)
Ultimately there are pros and cons to both fed and fasted workouts. It is really about listening to your body and realising what works best for you. If you have your breakfast and coffee in the morning and feel this surge of energy that gets you through your workout its probably best to stick to this method. Some people like to work out first thing and don’t have the stomach for food at 5am and prefer to work up and appetite. Again, if this is you it might be best to stick with what’s currently working. If you’re new to working out I would recommend doing a week of both and weighing up your own pros and cons.
Mythbuster – There is no evidence to suggest that a fasted workout is bad. There is plenty of evidence to show the benefits of both fasted and fed workouts, all very interesting:
I would personally recommend doing a mixture of the two and design a pattern that fits in with your lifestyle.
Sweating means you’re out of shape
Everyone is different when sweating during a workout. Sweat is basically a cooling mechanism of the body, but is it linked to being out of shape or less fit?
Sweating sooner whilst exercising can actually be a sign that you are fitter than those who have not yet started to sweat. This is simply that your body is more acclimatised to the exercising conditions and is more efficient at cooling down.
Please make sure you are aware of how much you sweat during a workout and you need to replenish this amount of liquid lost. Make sure you always have water to hand whilst exercising to avoid dehydration.
Mythbuster– sweating is the bodies normal response to exercising and most definitely is not an indication that you are unfit.