Everywhere you go, you hear people chattering about working out and staying fit. I hear it all the time: in the grocery store, in the gym, on the sidewalks, everywhere. It never fails that I hear one person give the other person they’re with a piece of advice that’s just not true and sometimes flat out dangerous. This scares me to death because I know fitness “knowledge” spreads faster than a juicy rumor in a high school hallway. Let me give you an example of how fast it can spread.
When I was in college, I worked in the fitness center as a personal trainer and a fitness supervisor. At the beginning of every year, packs of freshman boys would walk in surrounding their biggest friend, the leader of the pack. They would follow him around to every machine and listen to his every word. After all, he must know what he’s talking about, he’s much bigger and stronger than they are. One year, I walked in at the beginning of my shift and saw a few freshman guys running around the gym, from machine to machine, station to station. I wondered how long this was going on, and asked what they were doing. “Oh, we’re running from exercise to exercise to keep our heart rate up.” Not only was this dangerous for them, but it was also dangerous for other members of the gym as one of the ten guys running around could easily run someone over. The next day I arrived to work and again, saw a different group of what I assume were freshman running around. This time, one of them was white as a ghost against one of the pillars in the gym. It seems all this running around got him dizzy and nauseous to the point where almost lost consciousness. It took just 24 hours for this sage piece of fitness advice to spread around campus and it had already gotten someone hurt. Just imagine the power that a bad piece of advice in a fitness magazine with a reader base in the hundreds of thousands could have.
It’s time to let these fitness myths die. They’re keeping people from achieving their goals, it’s causing people to get hurt, and it’s causing mass confusion to the millions of people trying to get in shape. Here are the top eight fitness myths that need to die.
Lifting Weights Will Make Me Bulky
Lifting doesn’t make you bulky, cupcakes make you bulky. It’s very simple, take a look at one pound of fat versus one pound of muscle. The difference is huge! A pound of fat is noticeably bigger than a pound of muscle. So if you replaced 10 pounds of fat with 10 pounds of muscle, how could you possibly look bulkier than you look now? The only possible way to add bulk while you’re lifting is to not lose the fat you currently have. If you add 10 lbs of muscle and keep all of the fat you currently have, yes, you’ll be a little more bulky. The solution? Change your diet and you’ll be amazed at the transformation.
You Have to Train for at Least 1 Hour to See Results
This myth causes two problems: one being that people seem to skip working out all together if they don’t have one hour to dedicate to a workout, and two being that people tend to slow down their workout to a very low intensity just so they can make it through the hour. If you were at work and your boss said that you could go home after you finish a project, would you drag it out until 5pm? Of course not. You’d use laser-like focus to get that project done so you could be out by noon. The same goes for a workout, work as hard as you can and you’ll see twice the benefits in half the time.
Only Cardio Will Help Me Lose Weight
Cardio can be a great way to lose weight, but it absolutely should not be the only way. While cardio can burn calories, weight training can help build muscle and raise your metabolism. One pound of muscle burns more calories at rest than one pound of fat. So if you add ten pounds of muscle and lose ten pounds of fat and just sit on the couch all day, you’ll burn more calories than you did sitting on the couch all day the day before with ten less pounds of muscle. Pretty cool, huh? It’ll be pretty hard to add that much muscle though if all you’re doing is cardio.
Cut Out Carbs Completely If You Want to Look Fit
Did we learn nothing from the Atkins Diet craze? Carbs are essential to your diet. They give you the energy to get through your day or your workout. Without them, you will feel lifeless and cranky and you won’t see the effects you’re looking for. If you’re feeling good after cutting out carbs, then there’s a good chance the carbs you were consuming were high in sugar and poor choices for carbohydrates. Choose whole wheat carbs and balance out your diet.
Don’t Work Out If You’re Injured
While this one sounds like it’s only trying to help, it’s really not. If you’re suffering from a severe spinal injury, then please, do not work out until your doctor says it’s ok. For pretty much any other type of injury, you can always work around it. Sprained your ankle? Great, that has no effect on your upper body and there are still some lower body exercises you can do. Hurt your shoulder? There are still plenty of lower body exercises and core workouts you can do. The point is to not let one injury stop you from continuing to get better at other exercises. If you stopped everything every time one muscle hurt, you’d be in pretty bad shape.
Women Shouldn’t Lift Anything Over 5 Lbs
This myth seems so antiquated that it sounds like it should be in a fitness ad from the 50’s. The fact is, you cannot put a limit on a weight lifted simply because everyone is different. Is a five pound dumbbell going to be challenging for a bench press? Probably not. No matter what weight you’re using and what exercise you’re doing, it should be challenging for you. If you’re just going through the motions, you’re wasting your time.
A Cleanse Will Jumpstart My Routine
I get it. You’re frustrated with your body and you want results right this second. So a cleanse sounds like a great way to put your fitness results in warp speed. The only problem is that a lot of cleanses lack essential nutrients (usually protein), and you end up starving and more likely to binge once you come off of them. What good is a cleanse if you eat an entire pizza the day you go off of it?
Eat as Little as Possible
Another myth that seems like it should work. Weight loss is just calories in versus calories out, right? Yes, but it doesn’t really work that way. You see, when your body goes into starvation mode, it actually shuts down some of the nonessential functions and slows your metabolism down. This means not only do you lose not weight, but your body will have less energy. Think about when your cell phone battery is dying, most phones have a setting where certain functions no longer work when the battery is critically low. This is to conserve energy so your battery doesn’t die. Your body does the same thing. It slows everything down to conserve energy, which isn’t useful when you’re trying to lose weight.
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