Fitness myths; it’s easy to fall into the trap. You hear something from a workout buddy, or a friend or neighbor gives you advice on something that might have worked for them so you figure it must be true. But experts say there are so many myths and half-truths in the fitness world, it might be keeping you from getting the best and safest workouts. Here are the most common myths and misconceptions in the fitness world.
Fat deposits in certain areas (abdomen or thighs) can be targeted via spot reduction.
FALSE. Reducing fat is not necessarily exercise specific. People lose fat from areas in the reverse order that they accumulated the fat, which are genetically determined. The body loses fat in specific areas due to overall genetic factors not specific spot-reduction exercises. Men tend to store fat more in their abdominal region while women hold more in their hips and thighs. Although people can spot train muscles, they cannot necessarily spot reduce fat.
Women will build bulky muscles through weight training.
FALSE. A very small percentage of women possess the genetic potential to experience significant hypertrophy, or bulk-up. Women are typically smaller in size, tend to have less muscle tissue, and have lower levels of anabolic hormones than males. Women should not be fearful of “bulking up” as a result of regular resistance exercise. Under natural training conditions, women can enhance their muscular strength and size within genetic limitations but they will most likely not naturally develop unusually large, muscular physiques.
After a person stops resistance training, the muscle turns to fat.
FALSE. This statement is not only untrue, but it is also IMPOSSIBLE. Muscle and fat are separate and unique tissues; one cannot transform into the other. What often occurs is a gain in muscle hypertrophy and a reduction of fat during the training period. After the exercise is discontinued for a significant period of time, muscle mass decreases and fat stores increase as a result of the lower energy expenditure. One way to avoid this is to make fitness a lifestyle, periodically varying the exercise program but not quitting.
Machines are safer than free weights because you you’re doing the exercise right every time.
NOT TECHNICALLY TRUE. Both free weights and machines offer resistance that involves dynamic concentric and eccentric muscle actions that fatigue the prime mover group to stimulate strength development. One difference is that machines have a fixed movement pattern where free weights can be moved freely. But unless the machine is adjusted properly for your weight and height, you may not be using it correctly therefore creating likelihood for injury.
When it comes to working out, you’ve got to feel some pain if you’re going to gain any benefits.
FALSE FALSE FALSE FALSE! Out of all of the fitness misconceptions “no pain, no gain” holds the most potential for harm! While you should expect some degree of soreness a day or two after working out, it is very different from feeling pain while you are working out. An exercise should not hurt while you are doing it, and if it does it means you aren’t doing it correctly- due to improper form or too much weight- or you already have an injury. If it hurts, stop, rest and see if the pain goes away. If it doesn’t or increases in severity see a doctor.
Here are a few true facts that may be a shock to some!
Skipping sleep CAN cause weight gain.
Women in an American Journal of Epidemiology study who slept less than seven hours a night were likely to gain weight. Even partial sleep deprivation ups the production of the hormone ghrelin, which triggers hunger. SO, GET YOUR SLEEP!
Stretching before an activity may lower your endurance or exercise output.
A study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that stretching before going for a run made a runner’s body less efficient so that they did not perform as well and were unable to run as far, similar to resistance or power training. Instead of stretching, try warming up with a walk and exercise specific moves to mobilize your joints before. You can add those static stretches back in as a post exercise cool down!
There are so many myths and misconceptions when it comes to fitness and working out. Make sure you do your research and check out reputable research if you have a question. Also, never be afraid to ask your trainer or instructor, there are no silly fitness questions. Our goal is to keep you working out and training for life!!
Wayne Westcott ACE Personal Trainer Manual
Colette Bouchez WebMD
Ivan Yeh Health.com