The area of fitness is filled with myths that many people take on face value as true. But when it comes to exercise and wellness, it is important to understand the facts to ensure optimal health. These are some of the most common myths about fitness and the truth behind them.
Myth 1: The more the better.
Truth: Most of us tend to think that the more of anything we do the better it is for us. This is not necessarily the case with exercise. As far as repetitions and amount of weight is concerned, it is quality not quantity that counts the most. In other words, it isn’t how many reps of a particular exercise you do but the form and intensity at which you work muscles that get the desired result. With weight training, for example, the more you focus on the muscle(s) that are working (by lifting the weights in a slow and controlled manner through the entire range of motion), the more you will feel the muscle(s) working and the quicker you will see a change in your body.
Myth 2: Warming up before exercise is not necessary.
Truth: There is a heated debate among fitness professionals in regard to this topic. Many feel that there is no truth to it and others, like those working at CFC, feel it is extremely important. CFC trainers agree that warming up and stretching before and after your workout will help prevent injuries and alleviate muscle soreness. The purpose of warming up is to increase blood flow to the muscles and joints. It also increases the blood flow to extremities, increases core body temperature, lubricates joints and basically prepares the body for more intense activities. Any client will tell you that stretching is extremely important to his/her ability to function in the morning. Additionally, our evening clients who sit at their desk all day will tell you that the warm ups are equally important.
Myth 3: Weight/resistance training will create bulky muscles.
Truth: Weight training is one of the best ways for someone to look leaner, more sculpted and toned. In order to get large bulky muscles, one has to train a certain way with weights. It takes an incredible amount of weight and specific training make muscles grow larger. A body builder type typically hits the weights 8-12 times per week. We at CFC encourage our clients to incorporate resistance training only three times a week. The purpose of resistance training is to help protect against and prevent injuries and tone muscles, making them stronger and more lean while also helping to prevent osteoporosis. The extra muscle also helps to burn excess body fat by increasing metabolism, even when you are resting!
Myth 4: If you exercise, you can eat whatever you want.
Truth: Many of our clients jokingly tell us that they exercise with us so that they can eat whatever they want. Unfortunately, I think, most of them are not joking. Think about it this way: a 150 pound person running a 10 minute mile for 30 minutes burns about 360 calories. 1 Piña Colada has 245 calories, 1 serving of nachos (6-8 nachos) is 345 calories. You are what you eat; nothing can change that. If your goal is to lose weight, then you should be eating smaller meals more often. Your goal should be to eat about four or five smaller meals per day.
Myth 5: Your metabolism slows down once you hit 30.
Truth: False! Actually, hundreds of research studies have shown that the slow down in metabolism is due to a loss of muscle tissue. And the loss of muscle tissue is directly related to a lack of hard physical activity!
Myth 6: If you want to reduce the fat on the back of your arms, you should do a lot of tricep exercises.
Truth: Sorry, but there is no such thing as ‘spot reduction!’ Fat is located underneath the skin evenly through out the entire body. Fat is reduced through out the body in equal measures. Areas with a higher amount of fat will show results at a slower rate because there is more of it to lose.
Myth 7: Running is bad for your knees.
Truth: There are many factors that cause pain in the knees. The most common cause of knee pain is a muscle imbalance in the quadriceps. This imbalance causes the knee joint to be pulled in a direction in which it isn’t designed to be pulled. Running is the easiest activity to blame for this imbalance, but there are many factors that can contribute to knee pain including: old worn out running shoes, hard running surface, and bad form while running. All these causes are actually the fault of the client; they are not caused by running. If certain precautions are taken, your knee can get better if you listen to your body and to your trainer. In time, and with the right training, you can rid yourself of knee pain and continue to run into retirement!
Tom Kalka is the President and CEO of Custom Fitness Concepts in Virginia and has been providing exercise advice and guidance to his clients for more than 14 years. Contact Tom today for more information about removing these and other fitness myths from your personal training programs.