Even if you've been hitting the gym and working out for years, chances are, you've fallen for a few fitness myths. While some myths may contain half-truths, many of these exercise-induced myths have largely been debunked by current research. Have you fallen for one of these? Find out.
You Can Spot Reduce
No matter how many crunches you do, it's not going to be possible to melt fat off just your midsection. People lose weight fairly evenly over their bodies, although some body types might be built to hang onto some weight in certain areas while losing it completely in others. Aim for full-body strengthening and your "trouble spots" will start to improve right alongside the rest of your body.
Aerobic Workouts Boost Your Metabolism for Hours After You Stop
The myth that getting in a workout in the morning will keep your body burning calories at a higher rate all day is only partially true. You do end up burning more calories after you get off the treadmill, but only about 20 over the course of the day, rather than the several hundred extra many people seem to expect. To burn more calories throughout the day, do some strength work.
Everyone Needs a Pre-Workout Supplement
The right pre-workout can give you the energy you need to push through a tough workout, but these supplements can contain a variety of ingredients - some of which may actually be detrimental to your body. Instead, fuel your body with a nutritious pre-workout meal.
Stretching Before a Workout Prevents Injury
The right type of stretching (dynamic) can certainly help prepare your body for movement, but isometric stretches where you pull and yank at cold muscles can actually prompt injury. Instead of grabbing your ankle for a quads stretch before a run, start with a brisk walk or march in place with high knees for your pre-workout stretch.
Cardio Is Best for Losing Weight
Cardio is fantastic for your heart and it can help you burn calories, but when it comes to actually losing fat, you can't beat strength work like lifting weights or bodyweight exercises. Don't skip the cardio, but if your main goal is to lose weight, look into making dietary changes to support weight loss.
Lifting Weights Gives You Bulk
If you've been avoiding the weight rack because you're worried about bulking up, you have nothing to fear. It's the testosterone in men that helps them build large, bulky muscles. Women who have bulky muscles worked intentionally toward them - it's not something that happens accidentally.
You Can Eat Whatever You Want As Long As You Exercise
Exercise does play a role in your weight, but not as much as nutrition. Many people also tend to overestimate how many calories they burned during a workout and may overeat as well. To get the best results, keep track of how many calories you burn and make sure you get the key nutrients and calories you need. Tracking your macronutrients will help you get better control of your caloric intake.
You Only Burn Fat in Your Target Heart Zone
Anyone that has ever set foot on a treadmill or exercise bike has seen the graph that shows your target heart rate for fat loss and for aerobic workouts, which can lead you to believe you stop burning fat if you push yourself too hard. Actually, you burn a mixture of fat and carbs no matter what your heart rate is. The body is built to get the most efficient amount of fuel it can, which is usually not solely fat burning. Get the best results by mixing high and low intensity through your workout.
You'll Burn More Fat if You Exercise On an Empty Stomach
This statement is partially true - if you workout first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, your body will tap into fat reserves to help get the fuel it needs. Unfortunately, it may also tap into your muscle supply, burning even more muscle than it does fat, which can be counterproductive as lower muscle means a lower metabolism.
You Should Push to Muscle Fatigue
Pushing yourself to complete muscle fatigue is a sure way of overtraining - not of getting the results you want. Fatiguing your muscles may also make you sloppier, causing you to lift or move in a way that is unnatural. This, in turn, can lead to injury that sidelines you for a while. Pushing to muscle fatigue is a technique used by weight lifters with a very specific goal in mind and isn't suitable for everyone.
The Scale Is the Best Measure of Fitness Progress
The scale doesn't tell the whole story; it's possible to lose fat and gain muscle, keeping the numbers on the scale fairly consistent though progress is being made. It's a better idea to measure your body and track inches lost to see real progress. Also, do you feel stronger and fitter? If so, your efforts are working.
Consulting a Physician Before Exercising Is a Waste of Time
Many jokes exist about the typical urging on exercise equipment to consult a doctor before exercising, but it's no joke. Heart disease and other problems may exist without you realizing it, and with these conditions, vigorous exercise can prompt a medical emergency. It's far better to have a physical before engaging in a new exercise program to be on the safe side.
A Pound of Fat Weighs More Than a Pound of Muscle
A pound of anything weighs exactly that: one pound. This myth stems from the fact that muscle is more dense than fat, taking up less room. That's why it's important to take into account muscle gain right alongside fat loss when measuring progress.
Group Fitness Is Only for Fit People
Group fitness classes can seem intimidating to a beginner, and it may appear as though all the participants know what they're doing. The truth is that everyone is a beginner at some point, and simply walking through the door of an exercise class can be the first step on a fitness journey. Let the instructor know it's your first class and modify any movements that make you uncomfortable. Consistent attendance will have you looking like a pro quickly.
All Exercise Is Equal
The recommendation of 30 minutes of activity a day is a good guideline, but the intensity of the activity is important. A thirty minute stroll around the neighborhood is a good start, but if you're trying to increase your fitness level you'll have to do something requiring more effort, like circuit training or high intensity interval training.
Exercise Smart and Debunk the Myths
Pay attention to common fitness myths as they get debunked to help make sure you get the best results from every workout. While many myths do contain a grain of truth, there's often more to the story. If you hear an adage getting repeated a few too many times at the gym, you may want to double check that it isn't a myth as well - just in case.