Exercise myths that don’t live up to the hype.
Are you stuck on the belief that static stretching is the best way to warm up, or that you need to do 100s of sit-ups each day to achieve rock-hard abs? We can’t blame you. Fitness myths abound, and these are two of the most common. If you’re looking to make the most of your workouts, it’s a good idea to get to the bottom of some prevalent workout myths and understand what really does and doesn’t work, in the weight room and beyond. Here are eight frequently believed fitness myths, and the reasons they are wrong:
- Crunch Your Way to 6-Pack Abs
Want enviable 6-pack abs—or at least a slimmer, stronger core? Contrary to what you were taught in gym class and one of the most commonly held fitness myths, crunches are not the best way to reach your goal. There’s nothing wrong with crunches, per se, but their effectiveness is limited. Sit-ups only target your abdominal muscles, which is not enough to achieve a strong and balanced core. Instead, you should work the core muscles along your sides, back, and front (planks and bridges are great for this). Additionally, interval training, proper nutrition, reduced stress, and even getting plenty of sleep can all contribute to maintaining a flat tummy.
- Stretch Before Your Workout
Old school training techniques suggest that static stretching (for example, holding an isolated stretch for 30 seconds) is an important step before working out. In reality, static stretching of cold muscles can do more harm than good, actually decreasing the elasticity of your muscles. Instead, try dynamic stretching beforehand to warm up (for example, straight-leg swings or trunk rotations), and save the static stretching for post-workout, as your body cools down.
- Sports Drinks Satisfy, Post-Workout
Sports drinks can be a great way to stay hydrated during a workout, especially a longer endurance session where you’re losing lots of electrolytes through sweat. But post-workout, you’ll want to replenish with more than just electrolytes. Instead, reach for a high-quality protein shake to provide your muscles with essential amino acids to recover and rebuild. Most experts agree that consuming protein within a 30-minute window post-workout is critical to proper recovery. One of the best ways to ensure you’ll have protein handy is with the BlenderBottle® ProStak®. It’s an all-in-one protein shaker and supplement storage container. Just pack a serving of your favorite protein powder in the detachable jar, then when you’re ready to drink, dump the powder in the shaker, along with water or milk, add the BlenderBall® wire whisk, and shake well.
- Muscle Turns to Fat if You Slack Off
Muscle and fat are entirely different types of tissue, with different functions in the body. One cannot transform into the other. That said, there can be a correlation between reduced muscle use and fat gain. If you stop working out, your muscle tone and muscle tissue will most likely decrease. At the same time, the demands of your muscles for fuel from food will decrease. Instead of burning your food for energy, your body will convert unused fuel to fat. The lesson here: keep regular exercise as part of your daily routine in order to stay fit and deter fat storage.
- Sweat More, Burn More
Are you drenched in sweat at the end of your workout? Does your training partner remain relatively dry, and do you secretly congratulate yourself for putting in a harder effort and burning more calories? Think again. The amount that you sweat has more to do with your personal physiology, the climate, or the temperature of the gym or yoga studio than the intensity of your workout. Sorry, heavy sweaters!
- Cardio Kills the Pounds
Cardio exercise is great—it’s important for overall health and fitness, and a way to counteract some of the drawbacks of a sedentary lifestyle. However, cardio alone won’t take you very far in tackling weight loss goals. As Jim Karas, New York Times bestselling author and weight loss expert says in this ABC News article, “Cardio is the channel surfing solution of exercise.” Far too many people log endless hours on cardio machines, at a steady pace that does little to boost their metabolism and make real, lasting change in their weight and fitness. With that type of cardio routine, you’ll quickly hit a fitness plateau. Instead, the key to fitness gains and shedding extra pounds is to incorporate high intensity intervals and strength training to your workouts. Opt for speed intervals or a weight session a few days a week—instead of or in addition to cardio—and you’re much more likely to reach your fitness goals.
- Weights Will Bulk You Up
One of the most common fitness myths—and a deterrent that keeps some people out of the weight room, especially women—is the idea that lifting weights will cause you to bulk up. In truth, the only way you’ll bulk up is with a concerted effort. Unless you specifically work on gaining, strength training is actually a great way to boost your weight loss, weight maintenance, and muscle toning goals. Lifting weights helps increase your metabolic rate and burn calories. In addition, women don’t have the hormonal makeup to bulk up, so there’s no need to worry about hitting the weight room. In fact, resistance training (such as weight lifting) is critical for women to maintain bone density. Bottom line: weight lifting benefits nearly everyone, without the risk of accidentally bulking up.
- Morning Workouts Are Best
Let’s be real. Anytime is the best time for a workout, as long as you do it. Sure, a lot of people favor scheduling their exercise first thing. You can find studies (like this one) to support the idea that exercising in the early morning has metabolic benefits. But more important is the fact that you exercise, period. If you’re an early morning person and can get up at the crack of dawn to hit the gym before heading to the office or school, by all means go for it. If a lunchtime sweat session or a post-work spin class is more your jam, don’t hesitate to exercise later in the day. Everyone is different, and you need to find the time that best fits your schedule and your personal preferences in order to make regular exercise a habit you’ll keep.