Top 10 Exercise Myths Debunked

Between fitness bloggers, Instagram influencers, and self-proclaimed “gurus”, there is a lot of information out there about exercise but unfortunately not all of what you hear will be true. We’re going to delve into some of these “perceived truths” and debunk them. Once you’ve read this article you’ll be able to start working out smarter, not harder.

Rowing machine

Myth 1: You can focus on losing fat off a specific area on your body

Also referred to as spot training, this is the idea that working one area of your body will decrease your body fat in that selected area. Not only is this an impossible task, it could actually do your body more harm than good due to the repetitive strain on the certain body part. Body fat actually decreases as a whole throughout your body and not in any particular area, so a good all-round routine is best to decrease body fat.

Myth 2: Doing excessive crunches will get you a six pack

While building your core strength is a part of increasing the size and strength of your abdominal muscles, doing this alone will not get you a six pack. Instead, you’d need a healthy diet, calorie deficit, and intense workout routine to achieve this. Everyone has a six pack, it just depends on your overall body fat as to whether or not it will show. Don’t be disheartened though, training your core effectively will help you get there and will also increase your overall strength in the process; you just need to combine this with an effective diet and weight loss plan to get those sought-after sections to show.

Myth 3: The more you sweat, the more fat you burn

You may notice a change in weight post-workout compared to pre-workout but this won’t be down to burning fat. All that happens when you sweat a lot is that your body becomes dehydrated from all of the water loss, which is what causes the weight difference. It’s important to stay hydrated at all times, especially during intense exercise, so make sure you drink plenty of water during your workout and throughout the day.

Myth 4: Workouts should be at least an hour

If you’re endurance training or athletically training then at least an hour of working out will be needed, but for an everyday individual that isn’t competitively training, all you need is around half an hour to get the best benefits. This doesn’t mean half an hour of low intensity exercise though; if you want a shorter workout with better after-effects, you need to focus on HIIT (high intensity interval training). A shorter workout with higher intensity is also proven to burn more body fat due to all of the extra work your body actually ends up doing. You can create your own HIIT workout by choosing your exercises and combining them circuit-style with short rests between each exercise. Your exercises should be very vigorous and, if weights are included in your routine (which they should be), heavy. Don’t strain yourself too much though as this can damage your body. Listen to your body and tailor your routine to how it responds.

Myth 5: Bigger muscles mean greater strength

This is one of the biggest misconceptions in strength and weight training. There is actually no correlation between the two; the size of your muscles is due to quantity of fibres whilst your strength is down to the quality of those fibres. An athlete may have a smaller build than a bodybuilder, but as the athlete will train for muscle strength and functionality compared to size, their muscle fibres will be stronger than the bodybuilder. It is a classic example of quality over quantity.

Woman doing shoulder press

Myth 6: Sports drinks are good for you

Despite heavy advertising stating that sports and energy drinks are the best thing for your exercise routine, they are unfortunately far from it and may even be hindering your progress. They are pumped full of sugar, calories, and additives which, if not expended, will turn into fat. Because they contain so much of these elements, it makes it hard for them to be worked off and add to your weight rather than helping you lose it.

Myth 7: Fat can turn into muscle and vice versa

You can gain muscle while losing fat just like you can lose muscle while gaining fat, but this is not due to the tissue changing its molecular make up. Fat and muscle are two completely different types of tissue and therefore one cannot become the other. The best analogy we can use to describe this that you can’t turn an apple into a pear.

Myth 8: Doing more cardio means you’ll lose more weight

Surprisingly, spending hours on the treadmill isn’t actually the best way to shed those extra pounds. The average person will burn around 100 calories per mile of running, which is good while you’re doing the workout. However, because cardio doesn’t necessarily build muscle and work your muscles as much as weight lifting, the after burn – which is the process of further eliminating calories after the workout has finished – lasts nowhere near as long as a heavy weight workout. Weight lifting also builds on your muscle, which means that your resting metabolic rate will rise, whereas it will remain relatively the same doing cardio. It is always good practice to incorporate both cardio and weights within your workout for the best results, but focus on building those muscles more for a better long term metabolic boost.

Myth 9: Stretching prevents injuries

The idea behind stretching is that loosening your muscles before a workout will help prevent any possible injuries. Instead, what actually happens with static stretching before a workout is it causes your muscles to become too limber, resulting in a higher risk of injury. A better way to prepare your body for the impending work is to perform a short warm up routine involving the muscles you’ll be using. This can be done through bodyweight exercises such as push ups or squats, or you could use a light weight to work the area. Don’t exhaust yourself with the warm up, it’s not meant to be intense or hard, you just want to feel you muscles warming up.

Myth 10: You need supplements to make it worthwhile

While supplements and shakes can be beneficial, you don’t actually need them to get good results. You should get all that you need from your diet if you’re eating a good balance of foods. You will only need to progress to supplements if you are a body builder looking to achieve that competition level form. For an everyday person, however, supplements aren’t a necessary part of your fitness journey, as you can still gain size and strength without taking them.

Man drinking supplements

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