It’s hard enough to exercise every day. So, when we do succeed in dragging ourselves to the gym, we want to get the most out of every single minute.
One of the best ways to have an effective workout and get the results you expect is to debunk common myths about exercising.
If you believe the following 10 myths, you prevent yourself from reaching your fitness goals. But that stops today!
1. You can lose fat from specific parts of your body
You probably see exercise routines that “target your love handles” or something like that. And there’s a good chance you do these workouts, thinking you’re burning away those not so lovely love handles.
But the truth is, you can’t target certain areas of your body and lose fat from them.
Of course, you can target specific muscle groups, but that doesn’t mean you’ll burn the fat around these areas.
2. Cardio training is the best way to lose weight
Here’s the down low with cardio training. The truth is, it can help you lose weight, but if you rely only on cardio, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
The problem is when you only do cardio – running at the same speed for an extended amount of time – you do create a calorie deficit, but that’s about it.
If you want to lose weight, keep doing cardio but start building lean muscle mass via strength training.
3. You need machines for strength training exercises
Do you think you need weights and machines for strength training? You don’t.
The reason why is because all strength training really means is working your muscles by using resistance. And you can do that with your own bodyweight!
Examples of weight-free strength training moves include push-ups, planks, squats, lunges and yes, even jumping jacks.
4. Yoga isn’t really exercise
But there are also more intense forms of yoga that really work your body, from head to toe. In fact, there’s research showing that yoga can improve cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength, flexibility, and body composition.
5. You need to work out every day to see results
Now, before you start thinking that you can do one to two workouts a week and call it a day, here’s what this myth is really saying.
A consistent fitness routine is necessary to reach and maintain health and body goals. But it’s also important to remember what exercise actually does to your body, and why working out every day can be detrimental to your fitness goals.
When you workout, you actually put a lot of stress on your body and create tiny injuries throughout your muscles. After your workout, your body starts to repair and recover.
So, if you continue to push yourself through intense workouts day after day, you can actually increase your risk of injury and burn out. Ultimately, you set yourself up for failure.
If you want to keep working out every day, it’s a good idea to alternate between major muscle groups. This will allow each group to recover in between workouts.
So, one day focus on the lower body and legs. The next day, focus on abs and arms, for example.
Another thing women need to bear in mind is that doing the same intense routine throughout their entire menstrual cycle actually does more harm than good.
That’s because a woman’s hormones shift throughout the menstrual cycle. In the first half of your cycle, your body is up for an intense HIIT circuit. But when your period approaches, this sort of training can increase stress in the body and actually disrupt hormonal balance.
So, in the week or two leading up to your period, if your intense workout isn’t attractive to you, that’s okay. Consider trying something restorative and gentle, like yoga, walking or cycling.
6. Running on a treadmill is better for your knees than pavement
If you’re an avid runner, you know how important it is to protect your knees from all that impact. One myth we believe is that running on the pavement is worse for your knees than if you run on a treadmill or even the grass. But this is false.
Your body weight is what puts stress on your knees, and not so much the surface you run on.
So, if you’d like to safeguard your knees, consider using an elliptical machine or a stationary bike.
7. Swimming helps you lose weight
This may surprise you since swimming can be quite a challenging workout. But the truth is, because the water supports your body while you swim, it’s not the best weight loss activity.
Of course, swimming is great for toning muscle and improving your lung capacity, but it doesn’t do much for your fat stores – unless you’re swimming for hours on end. But most of us aren’t.
8. The sweatier you are, the better the workout
Instagram users often share sweaty selfies after their workout, proving that they had a good workout. But how much you sweat isn’t actually a good indicator of an effective workout. Here’s why.
The reason why we sweat is that the body’s core temperature rises. So, while exercise does heat the body, along with our core temperature, there are other factors at play.
For example, if the outside temperature and/or humidity levels are high, you will sweat more. But this isn’t because your workout is harder.
In fact, you could do the same routine in the winter or autumn and not sweat as much, but that doesn’t mean you're not getting a good workout.
9. Stretching before exercise prevents injury
Stretching is a good idea before you exercise, but most of us mistakenly think this means static stretching. You know – the kind we do when you’re holding one position for a short amount of time.
But this can overstretch the muscles and increase the risk of injury.
Instead, you need to be doing dynamic stretches that warm up your muscles and improve your range of motion.
Some dynamic stretches include hip stretching with a twist, front kicks with a hand reach, and lunges with twisted lateral lunges.
10. Eat protein after exercising
We’ve all had a post-workout smoothie, thinking we were doing our muscles a big favor by getting that necessary protein. But the truth is, most of us don’t need to overdo it on food after exercising – especially if we’re only exercising for 20 to 60 minutes at a time.
And if we load up on a protein and/or carbohydrate heavy smoothie or meal, we can actually consume more calories than we need to, and increase the chance of gaining weight, rather than losing or maintaining a healthy weight.
If these 10 exercise myths sound familiar to you, it’s time to replace them with the facts. This way, you can actually get the workout and results you want.