Sometimes it’s called “Bro Science.” You hear stuff at the gym all the time. And if it gets repeated often enough, before you know it, everyone accepts it as gospel. Sometimes it’s pseudoscientific, other times it’s just lore. Dispelling some of these myths might remove roadblocks to your workouts and help you make a more strategic exercise plan. Here are six of the most oft repeated gym myths:
MYTH #1: “Exercise is the best way to lose weight.”
The truth is, until you learn to manage and control your food intake, you will struggle with weight loss. Even the best exercise program can’t overcome a bad diet. While it’s true that exercise is an important part of dieting and healthy living, exercise alone won’t shed those unwanted pounds. “Exercise while ignoring your diet just isn’t a good weight-loss strategy. Here’s why. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume or eat fewer calories than your body uses each day. If you don’t have a caloric deficit, you will not lose weight.”
MYTH #2: “Weight lifting turns fat into muscle. Stop lifting and your muscles turn into fat.”
Building muscle and losing fat are two completely different metabolic processes. You build muscle and you burn fat. And while building strong lean muscle tissue will increase your fat burning capabilities, the two processes aren’t linked. Likewise, muscle does not turn to fat! “The illusion of “muscle turning into fat” becomes believable for many people when they don’t see their weight change over time, yet see themselves get fatter. While muscle turning into fat is a myth, the possibility of your body fat percentage rising over time definitely isn’t, and that’s what’s actually happening.”
MYTH #3: “Do lots of sit-ups to get 6-pack abs.”
Visible 6-pack abs are all about body composition and maintaining body fat around 12% or less. Period. Sit ups and ab strengthening exercises will definitely build six pack abs, but you’ll never see them until you burn off that layer of fat! Learn more about Body Composition and Weight Loss HERE.
MYTH #4: “Some exercises reduce fat in a specific area.”
Spot fat reduction is a myth. That guy you see doing side bends at a fever pitch won’t lose those love handles until he gets his diet under control. Surgeries such as liposuction can target pockets of fat but exercise and a reduced calorie diet takes fat off your whole body and you can’t control where. “It's really up to your body. Your genes, hormones, gender, body type, body composition, diet, and approximately a zillion other factors, to determine where and when the fat comes off.
MYTH #5: “The best time to workout is in the morning.”
The best time to work out is the time that’s best for YOU! Some people really love starting the day with a 5 a.m. workout. Others like to train after work. I like to train in the afternoon. Choose a time you’re sure to go. Be mindful of training too close to bedtime, however, as exercise can be stimulating and might make it hard to get to sleep.
MYTH #6: “You should stretch before exercise.”
In fact, stretching after exercise is best, since you’re muscles are warmed up. Its still a good idea to warm up before lifting. Some cardio, calisthenics, or super light resistance work is a great way to start. You are “warmed up” at the point which you begin to sweat.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Philip Hitchcock is an independent, Certified Personal Trainer specializing in “Fitness after 40,” Resistance Training and Weight Loss. He maintains his own client base and is also the exclusive trainer for the Four Seasons Hotel. Check out HitchcockFitness.com