As soon as you decide to start a workout plan, people are eager to give you advice. Your neighbor tells you two hours of cardio exercises a day are the only way to lose weight. Your friend at work says strength training will make you bulky. Your mother weighs in with her insistence that you don’t need a workout routine, you look fine just the way you are. Getting in shape is hard enough without having to cut through the lies, miracle drugs, gadget ads and the photoshopped and airbrushed propaganda to find the truth. Here are nine fitness myths debunked so you can stop wasting your time and start finding the workout plan that is right for you.
Workout Routine Myth 1: Strength training makes you bulky
This is probably the biggest myth of them all. When it comes to finding a workout plan that is right for you, strength training is one of the places where you get the most bang for your buck. Strength training helps women (and men!) maintain bone density, especially after age 30. It also has a longer fat burning effect than cardiovascular exercise alone. Someone who is strength training will have a higher level of Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) that revs your metabolism for hours after you are done exercising. If you are still worried about ripping through your shirts, rest assured. Most women simply do not possess the level of testosterone necessary to support a bulky physique. Most men who want to be bulkier will need to drastically change their nutrition to do so.
Workout Routine Myth 2: No pain, no gain
You can expect to be uncomfortable after a strength training session or doing cardio exercises you haven’t done in a long time. But there is a difference between a little stiffness or soreness after a workout and a serious medical condition. When you do squats at the gym one day and can’t make it downstairs the next, chances are you are experiencing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). This is a normal part of adjusting to a new workout routine. When you exercise a muscle that is unaccustomed to working, you cause microscopic tears in the muscle fiber. These tears cause inflammation and soreness as they heal into stronger muscles. However, extreme strength training can cause rhabdomyolysis (rhabdo for short), a serious condition that can lead to kidney failure and death. What’s the difference? While both conditions leave you sore and weak, rhabdo is characterized by decreased urine output and dark red or brown urine. If you experience either of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Workout Routine Myth 3: If you want muscle definition, strength training with low weight & high reps is the key
Technically speaking, muscle definition is the visibility of muscle contours in a relaxed state. Muscle definition is often the goal of people who take up exercise but it is primarily dependent on body fat levels. The less fat on your body, the easier it is to see muscles in their relaxed state. Performing high reps with light weights will build muscle endurance, a perfectly worthy goal, but it will have a minimal effect on your body fat levels and muscle definition. The shape of the muscles you are targeting will become more apparent as body fat is reduced through cardio exercises, proper nutrition and strength training with higher weights at lower reps. That’s not to say high weight, low rep strength training doesn’t have a place. Women over the age of 45 can enjoy many of the bone density benefits1 of strength training by lifting smaller weights more often. This is especially helpful for women who are unable to lift heavier weights.
Workout Routine Myth 4: Working out INSIDE is just as good as working out OUTSIDE
Working out with Mother Nature and all of her terrain changes outside requires more energy and burns more calories than running the equivalent distance on a treadmill2. The benefits of taking your run outdoors don’t stop there. Studies3 have found that people who do exercise outside are more likely to stick with their workout plan than those who workout indoors. Best of all, cardio exercises aren’t the only outdoor activity you can enjoy. With the help of a personal trainer, you can do a great strength training workout routine anywhere.
Workout Routine Myth 5: You can reduce belly fat with one simple trick
Fat around the stomach area is particularly hard to burn off – this is true. It seems like an infinite number of ads promote an effortless ways to get a perfectly flat stomach with expertly placed definition – this is malarkey. The fact is that such “spot reduction” is simply not possible. Body fat is body fat. And body fat is typically is gained and lost systemically. Only a combination of cardio exercises, strength training and proper nutrition can help you lose body fat in an efficient way – including around your belly.
Workout Routine Myth 6: More time in the gym = Better results
It is possible to overtrain. Doing cardio exercises for hours a day is not only boring and taxing, it can inhibit your muscle growth by not allowing your muscles to repair themselves. Marathon runners and professional athletes understand the importance of “rest days” that allow both their minds and their muscles to recover. Besides, no one has time to spend hours on end at the gym. Personal trainers are skilled at creating a workout plan that gives you maximum results in minimal time, helping you to workout smarter, not longer.
Workout Routine Myth 7: Machines are safer than free weights
Machines are commonly believed to be a “safe” way to engage in strength training because you have a limited range of motion when you use them. However, strength training with machines can cause injury by isolating a muscle group and taking the rest of the stabilizing muscles out of the equation. Someone may have great looking arms, but no ability to lift something heavy in normal life because they lack the functional strength to do so. The only safe way to engage in strength training or even cardio exercises is to use proper form in a program matched to your physical ability that progresses as your fitness level improves.
Workout Routine Myth 9: You have to go to a gym to hire a personal trainer
Whether you have a well-established workout plan or have yet to find a workout plan that is right for you, a personal trainer can help. Their knowledge of strength training and cardio exercises and how they fit into a workout plan can help you find the right workout routine for your body, your goals, and your current fitness level. Best of all, they can help you develop a workout plan that fits your environment – not just at the gym but at home, in your building, in the park, anywhere..