At some point we all have worked out in some form or another. Maybe you workout regularly at your local gym or maybe you haven’t physically worked out since “PE class” in grade school. Either way most of us have worked out at some point and are pre-dipostioned to believe certain myths about working out. The truth is we all desire to be in great shape and everyone has a different path or journey to achieve these results. We could debate for days which diets work best or which workout methods produce faster results. However, there are a few generic and common beliefs we have about working out or getting in shape, that most people fail to realize are simply myths. And thanks to science and new research we can begin to move on and discredit these myths. So here you go, these are what we believe to be ” The 5 Biggest Myths About Working Out”.
1. Myth – I should always stretch before working out
Truth – Static stretching (the most common form of stretching, where a stretch lengthening the muscle is held for a period of time while the body is at rest) before a workout can actually lead to pulled muscles. This may be the biggest myth because if we remember back to gym class the first thing our teacher/coach had us do before physical activity was stretch. And without realizing it we became programmed to conduct stretching before all physical activity. Experts say static stretching is similar to pulling a rubber band to its limit. When holding a deep stretch before workout your body will fear being overstretched and return it compensates by contracting and becoming more tense which can lead to injury or limited range of motion.
Solution – Professionals suggest a dynamic warm up. An example of a dynamic warm up would be; jump rope, light jog, or sport specific exercise. These type of light movements increase the heart rate and blood flow to the muscles which in returns warms up the body temperature. Once the body is warm static stretching or working out becomes much more safe.
2. Myth – Crunches and Ab workouts will get rid of belly fat
Truth – You could do crunches everyday until you pass out and not end up with a “6 pack”. You simply can not “spot train” you way to a 6 pack or everyone would be able to obtain the desired 6 pack rather easily. Crunches are great for toning or developing muscle in the core, but they do very little to burn the fat cells that lay over top the muscle. The result being thousands of people crunch their a** off and are still disappointed come beach season.
Solution – The best way to tone the mid section is to decrease overall body fat percentage. This is a completely whole other topic which is up for debate but in a nut shell, we decrease body fat with a healthy diet, cardio, and strength training. Try interval training designed to keep your heart rate in the fat burning zone. Once your stomach is flatter then go ahead and throw in your crunches, sit ups, and etc.
3. Myth – Cardio on an empty stomach is the most effective way to burn fat
Truth – Yes it is true that performing cardio workouts (running) on an empty stomach can burn the body’s stored fat. However, very few people understand the science of getting the body to burn up stored fat. I will attempt to explain it in the simplest form without using to many scientific terms. Fat can be used as a source of energy but it takes very long for the body to tap into fat as a source of fuel. Meaning by the time your body begins to use fat as a source of fuel to burn your already done your 30 minute run.
Solution – You may want to use carbs or other energy sources to get the body going faster and working out hard enough to get the heart rate above 120 and tapping into what we call the “fat burning zone”.
4. Myth – To lose weight I cant eat carbs
Truth – This particular myth often fails a lot of people that simply don’t understand how to diet properly. Un used carbs do become fat cells and can be problematic when trying to lose weight. So it is important that you limit your carb intake and schedule meals with carbs wisely. But, I deal with a lot of people that cut carbs out completely then attempt to kill themselves with 1-3 intense workouts a day. They cut the carbs, they kill it at the gym, yet they have no idea why their body fat percentage is not going down. And very often they develop a body we refer to as “skinny fat”. What happens is the body stores carbs and fat cause it doesn’t know when it will get more carbs and remember this is the bodies preferred type of energy. After all your hitting the gym so vigorously that the body craves that natural fuel. Sometimes the body will start tapping into protein and muscle for the needed energy. Ultimately what you have done is turned your bodies process for burning fat against you because it doesn’t have the proper means to create enough energy to fuel your workouts.
Solution – Eat slow burning carbs about 60-90 minutes before your workouts. Stay away from carbs later in the day or at night before bed.
5. Myth – Interval Training = muscle loss & Weight Training = Bulky muscles
Truth – You lose more muscle mass when you do long cardio workouts without feeding your body enough protein. Short blasts of interval training actually promote lean muscle mass. Now of course we understand that these results depend on what specific workouts you are doing. Weight training when done properly can also be used as a fat burner or lean muscle builder and should not be overlooked.
Solution – Find a trainer or professional that can recommend a personalized workout plan that is customized to reach your goals. Each person is unique that their body may not respond the same way to a workout plan as someone else.