There is certainly a ton of information about fitness out there, much of it conflicting. It can be hard to tell what is actually a valuable tip and what is a misleading claim or outright gimmick, so we are going to debunk some common fitness myths.
Myth #1: Long, steady treadmill sessions are the best way to burn fat and look lean.
This myth causes a lot of frustration for many gym goers. They say, "I jog for an hour on the treadmill 4 days a week why don't I look different!" The truth is, a more balanced approach that includes regular weight training and various types of cardio is a much more effective way to create the body you want. What is great about weight lifting is that you are burning calories both during and after your workout, because even after you are finished your body is still working hard to regenerate the muscle you have broken down and rebuild it bigger and stronger than it was before. Cardio work is good for your cardiovascular health and is certainly not bad for weight loss, but the downside is you are only burning calories while you are actually exercising. Be sure to incorporate weight training, and don't be afraid to mix up your cardio with rowing, boxing, swimming and HIIT. Also, always be conscious of your nutrition!
Myth #2: You can crunch your way to six pack abs.
Unfortunately, even if you have a strong core and can do 200 sit-ups in one set, it is not a guarantee that you will look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. You can't lose fat in one particular spot just by focusing on it, and seeing your abs is all about your overall body fat percentage. Visible abs means about 9% body fat for men and about 16% for women. If you want your abdominal muscles to show and still look muscular and fit (not unhealthily skinny), it requires dedication to a rigid fitness routine and, more importantly, a clean diet. Abs, after all, are made in the kitchen and not on the crunch machine. With all this being said, we want to remind you that having visible abs doesn't necessarily mean you are at optimum health. Everyone's body is different, and you can certainly be fit without the six pack. If visible abs is your goal though just know you can't crunch your way there!
Myth #3: If I am a woman, lifting weights will make me look bulky and musclebound.
No, no, no! Women should not shy away from weight training out of fear of getting that "musclebound bodybuilder" look (although if you want that look it's totally fine!). Women produce less testosterone then men do, so lifting weights will not make their muscles really large unless they are eating a large caloric surplus and/or taking steroids. Weight lifting will make the muscles stronger and burn fat. As long as you have a solid nutrition plan, this will give you a healthy, not bulky look. Ladies, don't be afraid to lift big!
Myth #4: I need to train hard every single day to be in shape.
Not working out as much as possible seems to go against conventional wisdom about many activities. "The more I play guitar, the better player I become, so the more I train the fitter I will be right?" The answer is actually no. Your body needs time to rest and recover. Muscle fibers that have been broken down by weight lifting need time to recover before training again. Joints and bones need a break from activities such as running and basketball to avoid knee issues and shin splints. Be sure to have at least one day a week, if not two, where you don't do intense physical activity. Also, make sure to work different muscle groups on different days of the week to avoid plateaus and injuries. Eating an proper amount of protein each day is important for muscle recovery as well. It's okay to take a break!
With summer coming up, look for more posts on fitness and nutrition soon.