There is a ton of goofy and downright silly information out there regarding fitness and weight loss. Everyone seems to have their own opinion about what it takes to lose weight and build muscle.
It might not sound like a big deal that people have conflicting opinions or beliefs, but when you consider that many of these myths contribute to people abandoning their weight loss goals or even injure themselves, then it certainly becomes a big deal.
I’m gonna set the record straight with 8 silly exercise myths that are still floating around in most gyms.
1. “No Pain, No Gain.” A silly and dangerous perception that exists in many a fitness centre is the idea that you should not complete your workout until you are either completely bagged, or are in pain. Being in pain at the end of your workout for some masochistic people is a badge of honor – as though they deserved it. More often then not, this type of physical activity leads to injury (no kidding) and also more often than not a complete cessation of participating in physical activity. Hard to blame them – after all, who would want to regularly exercise if it caused them great pain?
Ever heard of the law of diminishing returns? There’s a sweet spot where you reach a maximum amount of benefit. Any further and not only are you not progressing, but you are actually going backwards. Lifting weights for longer than 45-60 minutes puts you into a catabolic state, which means that your muscle fiber literally become the source of your workout fuel. Be aware that more is not always better.
2. I Need to Stretch Before Exercise. This piece of wisdom was imparted on me by my P.E. teacher in elementary school. Stretching muscles that are cold leaves them vulnerable to being pulled or injured. Want to get your muscles loose and “stretched out”? Warm them up with some moderate exercise. Only then, when your muscles have had some blood injected into them and they have had the opportunity to loosen, should you consider stretching. In fact, the best times to stretch are actually between sets (doing so can increase strength by up to 30% according to a recent study) and after your workout.
3. I Need to Workout For Hours on End to See Results. I’m going to make a confession. I once dated a girl who professed to know everything there was about working out. The few times we worked out together she would lift for nearly an hour and a half, and then do 45-60 minutes of long, boring cardio. I gently tried to prod her into the right direction, but she insisted she knew what she was doing. In her opinion, the results she had obtained as far spoke for themselves, so why fix what wasn’t broken? What I didn’t bother too mention was that she could have been a lot further down the road – and saved a lot of time in the process – had she not focused on pounding out 25-30+ reps of paper-weight dumbbells and lifting for 90 minutes at a time.
Focus on doing compound exercises, no more than 12-15 and as mentioned above, lift for no longer than 45 minutes or so.
Things didn’t work out with her. And the last time I saw her she had returned to her old weight. Weird.
4. I Need Supplements to Lose Weight. This is a common one. And it’s a myth that is perpetuated by a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s hard to fault people for falling into the trap of believing that a magic pill will take care of those trouble spots, or that a freshly discovered algae in the depths of Brazil have unlocked the “fat code.” Ever notice at the end of the commercials for these products you always hear, “When combined with regular exercise and a good diet.” Gee, no kidding. Stick to the basics, and if you are going to use supplements, don’t rest your fitness and health goals upon them.
5. Lifting weights is gonna make me really bulky. This is a common fear of many women who have never really lifted weights before. They see the big meat-heads at the gym throwing 100lb dumbbells around the gym and correlate the two. Women have less muscle and bone than the opposite sex, and as such it is crucial that they take care of them. Strength training accomplishes this, helping ward off bone ailments such as osteoporosis and strengthening ligaments and joints. Don’t fret ladies, unless you are jabbing testosterone into your butts like the meat-heads, you don’t have the naturally occurring testosterone to give you the bulk.
6. I can do a couple exercises to target problem areas. Crunchies are a big culprit here. I very often see people at the gym kicking out hundreds and hundreds of crunchies. When they don’t have a six pack two weeks later they throw in the towel. In fact, crunchies are one of the least effective ways of getting a six pack. Having a healthy diet and focusing on lowering your overall body fat levels will bring you far more results than all the crunchies in the world.
7. Unless I’m sweating, it’s not a good workout. Exertion isn’t measured by the gallons of sweat pouring out of your forehead. Sweat is only an indication that you are hot as hell. Sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself, and not a barometer for how good your workout was. Compare going for a run outside on a breezy day with working out in a clammy gym. Effort is the same, but sweat output are going to be vastly different. If you’re not as sweaty as you feel your effort dictates, don’t take it personally.
8. Exercising at a lower intensity for longer periods burns more fat. It’s hard not to look at the “fat burning zones” that most stationary bikes and ellipticals have and not be entranced by them. “You mean I get to work out at a chill pace, and burn just fat. Uh, okay!” The reality is a little more complex than this—while you may be burning “just” fat – as carbs are set aside for activity that requires more effort, high-intensity exercise (such as HIIT, or wind sprints, or stairs, etc) burns a butt-ton more calories in the 36-48 hours after exercise.
With these 8 myths deconstructed hopefully you can accomplish your workouts more efficiently and more intelligently. Want even more tips on how to lose that stubborn belly fat? Consider signing up for my Daily Fitness Tips Newsletter in the box below. I’ll also send you a FREE copy of Six Pack Secrets, my little flat tummy e-Course. Whammy!
See ya at the gym,