Busting Age-Old Fitness Myths (Long Overdue)

Fitness myths

Fitness Myths That Need To Die

Myths have been around ever since Homo sapiens learned to communicate. While some folklore can kindle the human spirit and keep communities together, others can cause trouble. The role of myths in fitness circles is no different. Fitness myths can slow down progress, make you hit a plateau, and can even cause injuries.

Fitness myths have reached a stage where they have gained souvenir status and are passed from one generation to another. The unsuspecting fitness rookies fall for these shiny souvenirs and end up wasting a lot of time and energy following advice that does not work.

1. Rule #1 – No Pain, No Gain

Most people fail to differentiate between pain and pumps. Muscle pumps are great as they are a sign of muscles being flooded with lactic acid and blood. On the other hand, tendon, muscle, and joint pains signal that you’re doing something wrong.

An exercise should not hurt while you are doing it. If you ever feel like you’ll pop something during a workout, it is your body telling you to stop, and you better listen. In this instance, living by the Muhammad Ali quote “I only start counting when it starts hurting” can lead you to some serious damage. 

2. Fasted Workouts Help Burn Fat Faster

If we got a dollar every time we heard this claim in the gym, we would be driving the Tesla truck by now. Many people assume working out on an empty stomach burns body fat as the body will utilize the stored fat as a source of energy.

But in reality, fasted training can be counterproductive. Studies have found that working out on an empty stomach can cause the body to break down muscle to burn glycogen as fuel. 

Apart from this, working out on an empty stomach can negatively impact your performance. If you don’t have enough macros in your body, you’ll run out of gas before you can do anything meaningful during an intense workout. 

3. If You Are Not Sore, You Are Not Training Hard Enough

Many people measure the effectiveness of their workouts by the degree of muscle soreness they experience over the next couple of days after a workout. These people try to train to failure in every workout and won’t leave the gym until they have a muscle-ripping pump.

You break down muscle tissues when you lift weights. Inflicting soreness-inducing damage on your muscles every time you train isn’t a good idea. 

It is time you stop assessing your workout intensity through the severeness of your DOMS. Some people even use sweat as a yardstick. They will not consider a workout complete until they are drenched in sweat. Following a customized training plan is a better way of ensuring workout effectiveness. Put in the work and be patient. You can’t rush to your dream physique. Good things take time, and this is one of them. 

4. Stretching Prevents Injury

Ask anyone trying to touch their toes before a workout why they are doing what they are doing, and they’ll probably tell you that stretching before a workout reduces the chances of an injury. 

If research is to be believed, static stretching before a training session can cause an injury. A study at the University of Nevada found that static stretching can weaken your muscles by as much as 30 percent because they act like typical resistance exercises where you put your muscles under constant tension for the duration of a set.

You should, instead, focus on warm-ups that increase both body heat and blood flow to the muscles. Dynamic stretching is a better option for getting your body ready for your workouts. Dynamic warm-ups include aerobic activities that mimic the movements you would do in an exercise. 

Women

5. Resistance Training Can Make Women Look Masculine

Women getting masculine through weight training is one of the oldest myths that refuses to die. The origin of this myth is ambivalent, but there are two possible sources:

  1. Insecure men who couldn’t see women getting stronger than them.
  2. Petite and delicate are a couple of adjectives that are associated with an ideal woman. Women who lift weights contradict this image. 

The truth is that the male hormone called testosterone is responsible for muscle gain in men. Women don’t produce testosterone in enough quantities as their male counterparts to get as big as them. On the other hand, lifting weights can help women tone their muscles. Something doing cardio alone can never do. 

6. Isolation Exercises Are Safe

Compound (multi-joint) exercises have earned a bad name for being too risky. Newbies, the elderly, and people recovering from injuries are often asked to use machines. They are told that isolation (single-joint) exercises can’t cause injuries.

Most people assume that an exercise machine automatically puts their body in the correct position and helps them do the movement correctly with the right form. This assumption is only true if the machine is adjusted for your height and weight. 

Since isolation exercises put all the tension on a single muscle, a small mistake while using heavier weights can cause an injury. In the case of compound exercises, supporting muscles step in and share the load when the going gets tough. 

Abs

7. Crunches Can Help Burn Fat

Late-night infomercials have made people believe that they can spot-reduce their belly fat by using a particular ab machine or a sauna belt. The belief that you can reduce tummy fat by doing a few crunches comes from the same school of thought. 

While performing crunches might help strengthen the muscles around your midsection and improve your posture, they don’t do much in reducing your overall body fat percentage. Building six pack abs takes consistent work and a variety of routines. 

Let’s talk numbers for a second. You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat, and doing 50 odd crunches won’t come close to burning that much fat. 

If spot reduction worked, we would be the first to tell you about it. 

8. Lifting Weight Can Turn Fat Into Muscles

If you have been around the fitness scene long enough, chances are you know someone who is overweight but lifts more than most buff dudes in your gym and gulps down protein shakes by the gallons in hopes of turning his fat into muscles. 

Muscles and fat are two different types of tissues in your body. One type of tissue cannot turn into another. Exercise solely can only improve your muscle tone. You need a personalized diet, training, and recovery program to undergo a successful transformation.


Did you believe any of these fitness myths? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook and Twitter.

Vidur is a fitness junky who likes staying up to date with the fitness industry and loves publishing his opinions for everyone to see. Subscribe to his YouTube Channel.