8 Fitness Myths Debunked

There is so much information about exercise, diet and fitness that it is hard to decipher what is truth and what is fiction.  This is where the internet comes into it’s own and helps us to decipher what is best for our bodies.  There are a lot of experts out there and here is what a lot of them agree upon.

There is only one way to find out if a fitness myth is true or not and that is to try it.  Fortunately for us many people have tried and tested the fitness myths and debunked them.  The good news for you is that you don’t need to try and test these myths yourself, so here are 8 fitness myths which have been debunked.
Expert yoga pose

1. You Have to Do Stretches Before Any Exercise

A myth that has done the rounds since the dawn of time, it’s so engrained into us that we have come to accept it as fact.  The fact is that you do not need to stretch if you are going to be doing a strength training workout and most other aerobic exercise.  Studies done by reputable researchers show that there is no significant benefit to do stretching before exercising (read here A Study Into Stretching Before Exercising – Article from the BMJ)

Stretching is done before and after exercising to stop the onset of muscle soreness, at least that was the initial reason, however, many people have forgotten why they stretch.  A lot of us stretch because we have been told it warms our muscles up and will prevent injury when engaging in sporting activity.  This is just not true at all.  When we want to warm up, running would be sufficient, however, it is not a pre requisite.

If you still want to stretch then that’s okay, however, at least you now know there is no benefit to stretching before starting to exercise.

2. If You Lift Weights You Will Become Muscular

girl-with-musclesA lot of women don’t want to start doing strength training, using weights, as they are frightened of becoming too muscular.  This is just not true at all.  To gain a lot of muscle you need a lot of the hormone: testosterone, and most women do not have this in abundance so they will not gain the muscle they are frightened of gaining. What will happen is that men will gain muscle, lose fat,  not too much if done correctly, and women will tone up more and lose fat.

Lifting weights is the quickest way for anyone to lose weight.  Although it may be intimidating for a lot of people to start working with the weights as there are so many testosterone fuelled men and women with muscles walking around the weights section at the gym, it is a still a good idea to start using weights as part of your regime.

The best way to do this would be to go to the gym when it is a lot quieter and get used to doing the weights.  This way you will gain confidence using the weights, and won’t feel so intimidated when it is a little more busy.

3. Don’t Eat After A workout

Exercising can make you feel ravenous and you could be in danger of wasting all the good work whilst exercising.  However, eating a small amount will be good for you as your metabolism will have started working quicker and you will burn the food quicker.  To stop the feeling of hunger it might be best to eat a nutrition bar along with drinking plenty of  water.  This will stave off the hunger and  the water will make you feel fuller.

A lot of people believe that after a workout they can pig out and gorge themselves because they have just been to the gym.  Fact is, most people are only burning a few hundred calories with aerobic exercise and double that with weight training so even having a Mars bar will negate the good work you have done exercising.

4. You Can Lose The Belly Fat Doing Lots Of Sit ups

TV GutThis is something that a lot of us believed at one point in our lives, but we now know that this is not the case.  You will gain extremely strong abs but the blanket of fat covering these strong abs will still be hiding the old six pack.  To lose weight and let your muscular physique shine through you will have to do a full body workout.  This way you will lose overall body fat and your muscles will have better definition all round.

There are a few ways to lose belly fat quicker:

Eat more, with smaller proportions: You need to keep your metabolism going and when you start eating the metabolic processes in your body start kicking in.  when you eat bigger portions then you are putting too much strain on your metabolism and therefore you will gain weight.  When you eat smaller portions, your body can deal with it a lot better and will metabolise the food better.

Eat foods that burn fat: Eggs, fish, lean meats, vegetables, whole grains are all good for helping you to lose weight overall.  Avoiding the whites; white sugar, white flour, white pasta etc will help in your quest to lose weight and keep fit.

Drink plenty water: You probably hear this all the time but your body needs to stay hydrated at all times.  When your body is not getting enough water your organs have to work that bit harder and it puts strain on them ,especially the liver.

5. The Best Way To Lose Weight Is A Calorie Controlled Diet

This is not the best way, there is no best way as we are all individuals and all have different body shapes and our metabolisms are not all the same.  While it’s good to keep an eye on the amount of calories you’re putting into your body it’s better to just to cut down on what you are used to eating, drink more water, and exercise more, no huge secret.

The reason that slimmer’s clubs do so well, and have some great success stories has nothing to do with the calorie controlled diet, it has everything to do with group dynamics and feeling extremely motivated to do your best in front of your slimmer’s club friends.

6. Lifting Weights Will Turn Fat Into Muscle

body-builderFat will never be turned into muscle and muscle will never be turned into fat.  This is ridiculous, but some still believe it’s true.  Muscle cells are totally different from fat cells and they cannot morph into each other.

The possible reason for this belief is that a lot of people lose fat by going to the gym or exercising and a lot of muscular people who stop body building lose their muscle and gain more fat.  This is purely physiological .  We lose fat by burning more energy than we are putting into our bodies.  We lose muscle by giving the muscles less stress.  The more stress muscles have, the more they grow, the less stress they have the less they grow.

The famous ‘Bingo Wings’ women tend to get as they get older is a result of no stress being placed on the muscles in that area of the arm.  The more stress placed on them the firmer they will be.

7. No Pain, No Gain

This is a myth that seems to have stuck in the consciousness of fitness fanatics, however, that is now changing. If we are feeling pain then that is the body’s way of saying, there is something wrong and to stop doing it.  It’s like putting your hand on a burning ring on the cooker, your body instantly sends a message to your brain to say: “get that hand off the cooker NOW!”.  Your body gives you signals via the brain to tell you when something is not quite right and if you are in pain when working out then something is clearly wrong.  Also when you are still in pain a few days after a workout then you have overdone it.  Listen to your body and it’s pain signals; workout smarter not harder.

8. Going To The Gym Is The Best Way To Get Fit

We have associated getting fit with joining a gym, however, there is no need to even leave your house to get fit.  We will look at strength training from home using your own body weight in another article, but here are a few things you can do at home to strengthen your body and get fit at the same time:

pushupPush ups: Good old fashioned push ups use your own bodyweight to give you a workout.  The trick with push ups is not to go hell for leather, take it nice and slow, rest near the bottom (when your body is closest to the floor) for a few seconds before continuing.  You will find doing it this way will tone you quicker.  When you are going hell for leather then you are using momentum to do part of the work for you.  It’s easy to do 30 push ups when doing it very quickly but try doing 30 push ups very slowly and it will be a different matter.

Sit ups: Another great way to strengthen the stomach muscles and lose overall body fat.  There are lots of ways to do them just make sure your body is in the correct position and your head is not being pulled as you start your sit ups.

Plank: One of my favourites and one of the hardest exercises to do. Lie on the floor face down.  Now rest your body on your elbows keeping your body completely straight.  You will find you will be able to do this for about 30- 90 seconds.  This strengthens all your core muscles and is great for your back, and stomach muscles.

We will be looking at exercises to do at home in future posts on lifesnips.com and will go into much more depth on each exercise.

Conclusion

Keeping your fitness at a high level can be hard enough without reading false information.  The best thing to do is to find a fitness regime you feel connected with, research it on the net, if it still looks good then follow the regime.

Related Posts:

  1. How to Really Lose Weight
  2. Seven Stages of Finding Better Health

Comments

  1. Phyl Good says:

    I remember when the weight machines, treadmills, etc were installed downstairs in my apartment building. The trainer who introduced a bunch of us to how to use the machines told us that recent studies had shown that stretching before using the weights created micro-tears in the muscles because they weren’t warmed up. He said you should stretch, but AFTER you had exercised, because the muscles would be warmed up and the blood would be flowing well at that point. That was really interesting.

    Thanks so much for all this info!

  2. Jeffrey Luke says:

    These are all correct to a “T”. I really hope no one believes these anymore.

  3. You hit the nail with this one Steve. I have been involved in fitness most of my life and sad to say, many people are being given bad information. Far to often research is either nonexistent, or funded by someone with a product to sell. Thanks for raising awareness on a few of these myths.

  4. ZuzannaM says:

    Hello Steve,

    Some individuals that have injuries and those injuries prevent them from many activities. For example neck injury that affect the spinal cord will not allow the person to do these stretching, lifting or push-ups…There will be restrictions in what the person can do to keep fit and not to gain weight…I suppose the diet will have to take place and calories counting to keep fit.

    Thank you for the great post!

    Zuzanna

  5. Thanks for your comments Jonathan. I actually believed a lot of these only a few months ago until I started doing my own research.

  6. Great article Steve, Never knew about stretching, I guess I can save some time now when exercising by eliminating it:)

  7. Mike King says:

    I’m a super active person so I stay fit naturally by my activities but I must say, I was fooled into a few of these since I’ve never really looked into fitness much beyond my own sporting activities. A few were obvious but not all. Thanks for sharing these myths!

  8. J says:

    Not that I necessarily disagree with your points, but you didn’t debunk anything. You just expressed your opinion.

  9. mikej says:

    Personally I find it hilarious to see another myth within your recommendations.
    Though i’m going to be an ass and not cite my sources, recent science has shown small meals more often don’t do anything to ‘keep your metabolism’ going. Its a concept that was assumed based on the scien e of thermogenic effects that didn’t carry over after testing it

  10. Anonymous says:

    You completely miss the point on 6 – of course fat doesn’t LITERALLY turn into muscle, but weight lifting generally loses fat at about the same rate you put on muscle, so while you get fitter and thinner your weight will stay roughly constant. It’s simply a way of explaining that, even if your weight isn’t dropping rapidly, the exercise is still having benefit. Nobody believe fat cells magically turn to muscle cells (and then, presumably, move to a different part of the body). While you are technically correct, it’s only because you misunderstand the initial “myth” and take it too literally. The other points are broadly good (although gym exercise is likely to be more effective than equivalent exercise at home, if you lack the proper equipment).

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  12. Gwen says:

    Anonymous is right. You can say that muscle turns into fat and not mean that the muscle cell magically transforms into a fat cell all on its ownsies. If you have muscle you are not using, your body will metabolize it. It becomes energy. If that energy is not used, it is stored.

    I also take issue with 2. We gain muscle. We just don’t gain as much as men. Women shouldn’t be afraid of getting too bulky but we certainly gain muscle from strength training. It is important to be honest about that because, if a woman starts strength training, she can gain weight or fail to lose weight while losing fat and getting smaller.

    Our muscles are the same. Recognize that. Our muscles do exactly what yours do when trained. Yours just do it more. It’s a difference of rate and our ceiling is much lower. The mechanism is identical.

    If you are a woman, then train like a man. Don’t take steroids and don’t train like a professional, natural, female body builder. Just strength train like a regular man. You will gain a good bit of muscle and you will look like you’ve “toned” even though you didn’t because there is really no such thing. What you actually did was gain muscle and maintain a feminine % body fat.

    We *can* get very muscular without the aid of steroids. It just takes a staggering level of dedication, focus and ambition. Honestly, a woman being afraid of strength training because she’s afraid to get too muscular is like saying, “I don’t want to learn about the LHC because I’m afraid I’ll become a physicist.” Seriously, don’t worry about it.

  13. Mike says:

    Hi Phil,
    For the average person who is looking to work out these are are some good points.

    That being said, in working with athletes there is a place for “static stretching” in part of a proper warm up.

    I think it is important to look at the level participation before recommending to stretch or not stretch and what others things are invloved.

    For example you cannot forget the psychological aspect for stretching and you need to understand where stretching came form in the beginning.
    There is definitely a spot for static stretching in a proper warm up pre- weight training and athletic performance.

    Cheers!
    Mike

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