Debunking Common Fitness Myths: Separating Fact From Fiction

When people learn that I’m a personal trainer, it always seems to be a segway for them to ask me their top health and fitness related questions. Most of time it relates to:

  • how to lose weight
  • how to tone up a particular area ie: mid-section, arms, etc.
  • how to cure low back pain
  • is it safe to take a “cheat day” while dieting
  • how bad is 1 slice of cake or a few beers for you, really??

And, this happens everywhere I go. That tells me that there is a lot of misleading information floating out there. No, you cannot believe everything you read (now more than ever thanks to the internet) nor can you believe everything you see on TV (even though it may have been on the Dr. Oz Show).

So, below is an infographic highlighting the top 5 fitness myths…and, below that is a little further explanation of each myth. 

Fitness Myths

1. Crunches Are The Best Way To Burn Belly Fat.

The best way to burn belly fat is through proper diet and lower intensity, longer duration cardiovascular exercise, such as running and power walking.

A proper diet is very important to getting and maintaining sculpted abs. While, core strength should be a focus area when working out, crunches alone will NOT shed excess belly fat…only diet and cardio can do that. In fact, to build abdominal strength, I much prefer plank exercises over crunches due to the fact that crunches can actually cause harm to your neck and lower back if dont improperly.

2. All You Need is Cardio and Weights.

To see AND feel real changes in your body, you need variety…and, that includes cardio/endurance training, resistance/strength training and flexibility training. Any one without the other 2 will result in some area of weakness; either poor cardiovascular endurance, poor muscular strength or poor joint range of motion.

For example, if you solely concentrate on strength training without stretching (for flexibility) you will not maintain a healthy range of motion in your joints and limbs, and will become susceptible to injuries and chronic muscle tightness, resulting in much discomfort.

3. No Pain, No Gain.

Safety first. When it comes to working out, I believe proper form and technique are more important than anything else. After all, if you hurt yourself working out, then you’re going to be sidelined and limited in how you burn calories for the length of time it takes you to heal.

I am very passionate about this topic, as I see too many individuals using poor form due to lack of knowledge. Poor form and lack of muscular control (due to lifting excessive weight) can easily lead to injuries, both acute and  chronic. However, when you are mindful of proper form, these injury nightmares can definitely be preventable.

As for muscle soreness, a good workout should leave your muscles feeling ‘pumped’. If you just started working out, expect to be more sore after the first few workouts. Though, as time progresses the soreness should ease slightly, and you will hopefully feel a “good sore” after each workout that only lasts a few days.

4. Stretching Will Always Prevent Injuries.

Consistent stretching will help to prevent injuries. However, improper stretchng technique could be unhealthy for muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons and bones.

Remember these simple stretching tips:

  • always do a light warm up before stretching (a quick 5 to 10 minute power walk or bike ride is a perfect example)
  • start slow, ease into each stretch and DO NOT bounce into the stretch, be smooth and controlled, using each exhale to deepen into each holding position
  • hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds or about 5-6 deep breaths (inhaling through the nose if possible)
  • aim to stretch your body’s tightest areas for at least 10 to 15 minutes each day

5. Lots of Protein and Less Carbs = Lean Muscle.

A vast majority of US adults eat plenty of protein in a normal diet. Actually, they eat too much animal protein, such as chicken and beef. Animal-based proteins are OK in SMALL quantities, but they should not be your main sources of protein.

Carbs are a confusing topic for most people and there is a big differnet between good carbs and bad carbs. ‘Good carbs’ include: whole grains, most fruits, vegetables and beans – these foods will contain not only carbohydrates (for energy), but also add fiber, vitamins and minerals – all of which are very important for good health and proper body function.

‘Bad carbs’ include anything made from white/refined flour or sugar, such as: bagels, muffins, white bread, white rice, etc. Bad carbs transform themselves into glucose (sugar) during digestion, and get stored inside the body until bured off through exercise. Too many bad carbs (sugar) will result in weight gain, as well as a host of health issues, such as Type 2 Diabetes.

So please, aim to eat more plant-based sources of carbs and proteins, such as beans, lentils and nuts. Your body will thank you…plant-based carbs and proteins are much easier to digest, add extra valuable vitamins and minerals, as well as aid in weight loss.

Knowledge is Power…

I know it’s difficult debunking fitness myths, as there’s so much media surrounding exercise, food/nutrition and dieting. Unfortunately, little of this information is regulated by credible sources. But, I am here to help. If you have any additional fitness or exercise questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer!

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