With all the information out there on health and fitness, how do you determine what’s true and what’s not?
It is easy to get stuck in the fitness fallacy rut, especially if you are someone who is new to dieting and training. This can make attaining any kind of goal extremely hard and frustrating.
If you go into health and fitness with a little bit more knowledge than the average gym goer, it will be significantly easier to deal with setbacks, nutrition problems and training misconceptions.
There are plenty of fitness myths out there and I’ll shed some light on 10 of the biggest.
Myth 1: You can target your fat burn
This is also known as ‘spot reduction’ but as inviting as that sounds, it isn’t possible. The fat that breaks down when you exercise can come from any place in your body and not just the primary muscle being used. So ditch those special spot reduction exercises and opt for a higher intensity exercise if your goal is fat loss.
Myth 2: No pain, no gain
You may hear your gym buddy say “no pain, no gain,” so you push past that awful feeling in your back to get that last rep in. But if this is your motto for working out, then you could be setting your body up for some serious injuries. There is a difference when working out between actual pain and discomfort. The burn you feel in your legs after a few heavy reps is perfectly fine and should subside within a minute or so but when there is a sharp pain that occurs all of a sudden, or the pain lasts for days after your workout, that isn’t something to be overlooked and the exercise should be stopped right away.
Myth 3: All protein powder is the same so it doesn’t matter what kind you choose
There are so many different kinds of protein out there: casein, whey, soy, egg protein, and others. All of these kinds of protein are vastly different and all do different things. Some take longer to release their protein, some have less/more protein, some are vegan etc. On top of that, they all taste different–some proteins taste awful and they are all not created equal, so don’t let anyone tell you they are all the same, because they are definitely not. It’s up to you on what tastes the best and what kind will work the best for your goals.
Myth 4: Lifting heavy weights makes women bulky
This is probably one of the biggest, most popular myths in women fitness, and why so many women are afraid of weights and seem to be stuck on the treadmills and ellipticals. If you lift heavy weights you will get stronger, not necessarily bigger, but rather denser, more firm looking. You see some of those female body builders and they are massive and they want to be that way, but that is not how you will look if you lift heavy weights. If you take testosterone and eat a lot more food than the calories you burn in a single day then you will get huge and bulky. If you lift heavy and are in a caloric deficit to lose weight, then you will end up losing more fat than if you stuck to the treadmill for your workout.
Myth 5: Exercise machines are safer and better than free weights
Exercise machines don’t allow you to go through your entire functional movement pattern. What I mean by that for example, is the smith machine. It is supposed to help you with heavy exercises like squats and bench presses, but they didn’t consider that people have very different body types, so not everyone can use the machine the same way. Also, when using these machines your stabilizing muscles that are around your joints don’t get used nearly as much and will over time lead to injury and possible posture imbalances.
Myth 6: Treadmill running is better than outdoors
There are some significant differences between running on a treadmill to running outdoors. You have different changes in wind, pavement, incline, and other various changes. Stride length is also a big factor for those tall runners you may feel squished or confined on a treadmill for fear of falling off and may shorten your stride. Running a mile on the treadmill can feel like 10 miles compared to running outdoors, so running outside you’re more likely to stay outside for longer (not to mention you have to get back home). There are benefits to both, but outside may be a better option for a more enjoyable exercise with more variety. Although, when the weather doesn’t permit for running outdoors, running on a treadmill on at least a 1% incline would be the next best thing.
Myth 7: Sweating means you’re out of shape
Actually, contrary to common belief, you will sweat more the fitter you become. This is because we sweat in order to cool ourselves down so that we do not overheat. The more fit we become, the better our bodies get at cooling down, which means that you will sweat more and possibly sooner. Also, how much you sweat depends on the temperature, what type of clothing you wear, your genetic makeup, and even if you had caffeine that day. So sweat is not a good indicator of how fit you are, because of all the factors that go into how much you sweat.
Myth 8: Working out makes you hungry
The truth is that working out actually suppress hunger and not the other way around. When you work out, the hormone gherkin, which controls your hunger, is decreased so you are not getting hungry after a workout. People eat after a workout as a reward for going to the gym, but that quickly turns into a habit that is hard to break. Another factor that can contribute to hunger after a workout is if you ate before the workout or not. If you eat some type of healthy carbs like a handful of almonds before you workout, it can decrease your appetite as well.
Myth 9: Squats are bad for your knees
Squats are one of the most effective exercises out there for you, and they have numerous benefits. They can actually help support your knees, not harm them. Squats can strengthen the supporting muscles and ligaments that surround your knee, leading to stronger more sturdy knees. What gives squats a bad rap is that people will do them with improper form, and that will lead to injury. Make sure before you do any exercise, you know what the proper form is, and ask for help when needed.
Myth 10: Protein bars are a good meal substitution
Protein bars are one of the most highly processed foods, and are not a good meal replacement as far as nutrients go. You would be better off eating 400 calories of fish or chicken that is more filling than a small highly processed protein bar. There are also certain things that you should look out for on any protein bar, because some of them are just glorified candy bars. First off, look at the calorie content of the bar and how much sugar they contain. It’s amazing how much sugar is in the majority of protein bars. Also, if you look at the ingredients that are in the protein bar and sugar or high fructose corn syrup is the first thing that is listed, put it back on the shelf because that is what is most abundant in that bar.