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25 Fitness Myths, Part 1

By Anne Keckler | February 20, 2008

  1. Doing crunches will flatten your abs. Doing specific leg exercises will slim your thighs.

    There is no such thing as spot-reducing. There is no specific exercise you can do that will guarantee fat loss in a particular area. When you lose fat, you will lose it in genetically predetermined ways. In other words, your genetics determine where you will lose fat first, and where you will lose it last. You may have to lose a lot of fat before you lose it from the area you most want.

  2. Women who lift weights will develop big, bulky muscles

    Some women who lift weights in a specific way might develop large muscles, but it’s highly unlikely. It’s even more unlikely that you will do this accidentally, and it’s virtually impossible that it will occur if you have a calorie deficit. If you are burning more calories than you are consuming, there simply won’t be any left over for building huge muscles. The very masculine-looking female bodybuilders, the ones that are really huge, are generally taking steroids.

  3. Reverse crunches (or leg lifts, or whatever) will flatten or strengthen the lower abs and get rid of that lower belly flabbiness.

    In addition to the fact that there is no such thing as spot-reducing, there really is no such muscle as “lower abs.” Abdominal exercises work the Rectus Abdominus muscles, primarily. These muscles work together as a group. To lose that flabbiness on the lower portion of your abdomen, you will need to diet down to lose the fat. Some of the fat may be visceral fat, which is the fat that is deposited around your internal organs, as opposed to the fat just under your skin. Visceral fat can be the hardest to lose. Also, the shape and size of your internal organs may cause your lower belly to bulge slightly, especially if you are female, and even moreso if you have had children.

  4. DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) means I’m working hard enough (No Pain No Gain)

    This is such a persistent myth! Many people believe that if they aren’t sore, they didn’t work hard enough. That is simply not true. I know that when you first started working out, you’d be sore after every workout, usually the next day. After you’ve been at it for a while, you’re just not feeling it anymore and you worry that you’re not getting the same benefit from your workouts. Don’t worry about it. If you are doing an effective workout, you may or may not be very sore the next day.

  5. High Reps with Light Weights Will Get Me More Toned

    There are two ways you can improve the appearance your body. You can gain muscle, and you can lose fat. What most people seem to mean when they say “toned” is that they want to lose fat and have some muscle showing. They want to look tight.

    High reps with light weights are mostly a waste of time. You’ll get a little cardiovascular workout, but that’s all.

  6. If You Stop Exercising, Your Muscles Will Turn to Fat

    Muscles never turn to fat, and fat never turns to muscles. You can lose muscle tissue, especially if you burn a lot of calories and don’t do anything to retain the muscle. You can lose fat tissue, but you’ll still have to do something to gain muscle.

  7. It’s Unhealthy to Exercise in Cold Air (winter or air conditioning)

    The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) has determined that it is safe to exercise in extremely cold temperatures. A little air conditioning certainly isn’t going to hurt you! Many people continue to say that exercising in the cold will make you sick, or cause lung problems. Don’t believe it, and definitely don’t allow such statements to keep you from exercising.

  8. You Can Increase Fat Burning By Exercising Longer at a Lower Intensity

    This is a more recent myth, and the result of some research which revealed an optimal “fat burning zone,” in regard to heartrate. The research found that exercising at a lower intensity burns more calories from fat. Many people concluded from this that they would burn more fat if they did long sessions of exercise in their “fat burning zone.”

    A little basic math will reveal that exercising at a higher intensity for a shorter period of time will result in more calories burned, overall. The more calories you burn, the more fat you lose, assuming you are also eating enough protein and doing resistance exercise to spare the muscle.

  9. More Exercise Will Always Bring Better Results

    The “more is better” attitude can really cause problems. You may hear stories about professional athletes training for many hours each day. What you don’t hear is that they have nothing else to do, they get enough sleep, their diet is optimum for their needs, and they are probably using chemical enhancements to prevent symptoms of overtraining.

    Check out these common symptoms of overtraining. Some people suggest that overtraining is really just undereating or underrecovery, so be sure you are eating properly and getting adequate rest for your level of training. If you still experience symptoms of overtraining, cut back a little and see if that helps.

  10. You Can’t Gain Muscle After Age 40

    I touched on this when I said, “I want to live forever.” The ASCM states:

    age should not be a limiting factor for beginning an exercise program (but that medical approval should be obtained), and that the exercises should be progressive in nature, individualized, and involve all the major muscle groups.

    Related posts:

    1. 25 Fitness Myths, Part 2
    2. Lost Weight – Now What?
    3. Are You Bored With Your Fitness Routine?
    4. Losing Weight vs. Losing Fat
    5. Gaining Muscle

    Related posts:

    1. 25 Fitness Myths, Part 2
    2. Lost Weight – Now What?
    3. Are You Bored With Your Fitness Routine?
    4. Losing Weight vs. Losing Fat
    5. Gaining Muscle

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    Topics: Exercise, Losing weight, Most Popular!, Nutrition | 2 Comments »

    2 Responses to “25 Fitness Myths, Part 1”

    1. David W Says:
      February 20th, 2008 at 6:54 pm

      Nice post! The myths of exercise should include that people with disc or joint problems can not do cardio exercises: reality is that they can swim laps, which will reduce weight and improve muscle tone, but will have to refrain from twisting. Swimming face down with a snorkel tube, or on the back is an excellent exercise for those millions of people with arthritis or disc problems.

    2. Dan Says:
      June 11th, 2008 at 7:12 am

      I liked this post, I generally enjoy any of the myth-busting articles you see nowadays. Only thing I disagree with (although in your context it is very true) is that “high reps with light weights are mostly a waste of time. You’ll get a little cardiovascular workout, but that’s all.” That’s certainly true if you’re looking to get toned, as you stated, but incorporating some of that into a workout offers a great change, and also helps develop stamina. But most of all, we use it to test subjects psychologically (mostly with bodyweight cals like pushups, etc.) to see if they can push themselves and not give up. Great article though, thank you!

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