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25 Fitness Myths, Part 2

By Anne Keckler | February 21, 2008

Part 1 is here.

  1. You Have to Do Cardio (or Aerobics) to Lose Fat or be Fit

    Cardio, usually referred to as “aerobics,” was really big in the ’80′s. Fitness professionals were convinced that the only way to attain true fitness was to do aerobics. An entire industry sprang up around it, with clothing, videos, and machines. Recent studies have shown, however, that resistance exercise provides numerous benefits not available through cardio alone. For example, one Harvard study showed a that men who lifted weights once a week for thirty minutes had 23% less incidence of heart disease. More muscle tissue produces a stabilizing effect on blood sugar levels. There is a strong correlation between strength and lifespan, with the strongest people living the longest. And high-intensity weightlifting raises your metabolism, increasing the calories burned, for up to two days after a workout, compared with a few hours for cardio. The muscle you build will boost your metabolism for the long-term, too.

    Cardio is good for you, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not the only way to lose weight or to be fit and healthy, and it looks like it may not be the best way. Do it if you enjoy it, and don’t sweat it if you don’t.

  2. Stretching Before a Workout is Necessary to Prevent Injury

    You’ll gain more flexibility if you stretch after exercising. Furthermore, stretching prior to lifting weights will probably reduce your lifting ability, so you will be able to lift less weight. Being too flexible can increase your risk of injury.

    At any rate, there is no correlation between pre-exercise stretching and injury prevention.

  3. Taping an injury prevents further damage

    Taping an injury, such as a joint injury, will probably just lead to you ignoring the injury and cause further damage. In any case, taping an injury does nothing to protect the area in question.

  4. You’ll lose more fat if you exercise first thing in the morning, before eating

    If this causes you to eat less, or exercise more, thus creating a caloric deficit, then yes, you’ll lose more weight. There is nothing magical about the time of day in which you exercise. Exercising before you eat can lead to you becoming dizzy or nauseous.

  5. If you eat after 7pm the food will turn straight to fat

    Again, if this causes you to eat less, then go ahead and make this a rule. But there is nothing magical about the time of day. It’s all about how many calories you consume vs. how many calories you burn each day.

  6. An aerobic workout will boost your metabolism for hours after you stop working out

    As I stated above, an aerobic workout (which is not actually purely aerobic, by the way) will boost your metabolism for a few hours. This is true! However, the boost is very small, and weightlifting will boost your metabolism for days afterward.

  7. Low-impact activities are better for you than high-impact activities

    Well, that depends. If you have pre-existing problems, this might very well be true. For everyone else, the opposite is actually true. Exercise that creates an impact on your skeletal system will cause your bones to become more dense, for one thing. Many people experience bone loss as they age, and resistance exercises, as well as higher-impact activities, can increase your bone density. Swimming isn’t best for everyone!

  8. Deadlifts will ruin your back

    I’ve had chiropractors tell me this many times, but deadlifts have made a chiropractor obsolete for me! I had a horribly weak lower back, and I was frequently laid up in bed because of the pain. One of my lower discs has degenerated.

    Then I learned to properly do deadlifts, and the strength it has given to my back has saved me from pain and chiropractors! This isn’t just anecdotal evicence, though. Deadlifts actually strengthen your core muscles, so that your back will work properly. You will find yourself doing things differently throughout the day once you learn to deadlift (and squat) properly. You’ll bend differently, and lift things differently. It can make a world of difference!

  9. If you squat too low you will blow out your knees (or, machines are better for your knees than squats)

    If you squat so low that you lose form in your lower back, you may injure your back, but you are highly unlikely to injure your knees. The weakest angle for your knees, actually, is 90 degrees. That’s precisely the angle many trainers and fitness writers tell you to stop at when doing squats! Think about how a toddler squats down to play with something on the floor, or to pick something up. Straight down, all the way. Legs are far enough apart for the body to go between the legs. There is nothing unsafe about this.

    Squat lower.

  10. If you’re not working up a sweat, you’re not working hard enough

    Sweat is a function of your cooling system. It has little to with how hard you are working, as everyone is a little different in this regard.

  11. This Supplement Will Change Your Life

    Remain skeptical! There is no “get-thin-quick” trick. No ancient Chinese herb will help you to lose more weight, at least not in a healthy way. These supplements are usually either snake oil or stimulants. There are a few, very few, supplements that can actually do something for you. Fish oil capsules can help you to get your daily dose of Omega 3 fatty acids, if you’re not getting them through your diet. A vitamin/mineral supplement can help in a similar way. Protein supplements are just a food product that has been slightly refined to help you get protein without carbs or fat. And creatine does increase muscle size in many people, but it does so by causing your muscles to retain more fluid.

  12. Eating Fat makes you Fat

    Eating too many calories makes you fat. Excess calories, whether they come from fat, protein, or carbohydrates, will be stored as fat in your body. Fat contains more calories than either protein or carbs, so for this and other reasons you should limit your intake of fat (and avoid trans-fats as much as possible for various reasons). But fat is not the evil it has been made out to be.

  13. Machines are a safer way to exercise because you’re doing it right every time

    Machines have many drawbacks, including the fact that you are not recreating a natural movement that you would normally use in real life. They aren’t sized for everyone. They require you to use their set plane of movement, rather than a more natural range of motion. They isolate muscles, rather than using multiple muscles and multiple joints in each movement.

    If used correctly, by a person for whom the machine is properly sized, exercise machines can be helpful for rehabilitation, physical therapy, and for correcting muscle imbalances. For everything else, use the free weights or bodyweight and learn to do compound exercises (squat, deadlift, pullups, etc.).

  14. Stretching will help you prevent sore muscles associated with exercise

    Sometimes your muscles will become sore the day after you exercise. This is referred to as DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Stretching has not been shown to have any effect on DOMS when performed after exercise, though it may have limited effect when performed the next day. Massage is also thought to be beneficial for alleviating DOMS.

  15. Weightlifting belts will protect your back when you lift

    Your body has the perfect belt already built in. Your “core” muscles are designed to protect your skeletal structure at all times. By using a weightlifting belt, you may be signaling to your body to relax, thus increasing the risk of injury.

See also: The Most Ridiculous Diets

Related posts:

  1. 25 Fitness Myths, Part 1
  2. Book Review: New Rules of Lifting
  3. Gaining Muscle
  4. Benefits of Hiring a Personal Trainer
  5. Lost Weight – Now What?

Related posts:

  1. 25 Fitness Myths, Part 1
  2. Book Review: New Rules of Lifting
  3. Gaining Muscle
  4. Benefits of Hiring a Personal Trainer
  5. Lost Weight – Now What?

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