Maybe you already know that some of these are just myths.
Maybe you think you know everything and won't even bother reading them all.
"Sit-ups tone and shrink your mid-section."
Sit-ups will actually cause your stomach muscles to become stronger and grow, making your waist larger. Doing sit-ups also has no effect on the amount of fat on your stomach. Diet and cardio are the keys to this.
"Running makes your legs strong."
Long distance running actually does quite the opposite. We have two different types of muscle fibers: those responsible for strength/power, and those responsible for endurance. Distance running only trains endurance type muscle fibers, which will actually make your strength levels go down. Just compare an Olympic distance runner to an Olympic sprinter and notice who looks stronger.
"You must do lots of cardio for heart health."
Increasing your intensity can save you hours in the gym. Studies show that high intensity interval training (alternating between very high intensity bouts of exercise and rest) for 30 minutes 3 times per week elicited the same aerobic improvement as 60 minutes of low intensity cardio 5 times per week. This is an easy way to gain hours of your life back from the dreaded elliptical.
"Squats are hard on your knees."
Squats are one of the best exercises for knee health, when performed correctly. If squats are hurting your knees, chances are you are doing them incorrectly.
As a personal trainer, I can attest to the fact that squatting has fixed infinitely more knee problems than it has caused. Many times knee problems are caused by muscular imbalances. Squats are great for fixing this.
"You must work out many hours a week."
Studies suggest that workouts should not last longer than 1 hour. You also need adequate rest between workouts. 5-7 hours a week is really all the time anyone should spend in the gym.
"You must have a gym membership to get results."
Exercise need not be confined just to the gym. Working out can take place pretty much any time, any place. There are many people that stay fit without going to the gym. Bodyweight exercises can be done safely from the comfort of your own living room.
"Harder exercises are better."
Newsflash, the 2 pound, single arm curl while standing on a BOSU ball is far inferior to a standard dumbbell curl with a ten pound weight. Keep it simple. Stick to the basics. Most of these new miracle fitness tools are purely gimmicks. There is a reason people have been using dumbbells and barbells for well over a century: because they are effective.
"Taking days off will hurt you."
Your body needs rest. If you are feeling sick, injured or just plain run-down, it certainly won't hurt to take a day off. However, if your problem is simply a lack of motivation, well, you had better just tough it out.
"Carbs are bad."
Your body needs carbs to function optimally: end of story. If you are engaging in weight training, then it is essential to consume carbohydrates, as this is the main fuel for your muscles during anaerobic activity.
"Weightlifting will make women bulky."
Women simply do not have the hormones to be "bulky." Weight training is essential to any exercise program, ESPECIALLY for women. Women are particularly susceptible to bone deterioration as they age, and the best way to combat this: weight training. Women are also more likely to have knee issues due to the increased angle from their hips to knees. Strengthening the muscles around these joints is pivotal in preventing injury.
"Deadlifts will hurt your back."
Deadlifts are extremely safe when performed correctly. Deadlifts will actually strengthen the back, and in turn, prevent injuries.
"Stretching prevents injury."
Studies show that stretching prior to exercise actually increases the risk of injury.
"Machines are safer than free weights."
Machines often put the body in an unnatural plane of movement. This can actually cause injury. It is better to stick to free weights if possible.
There is no such thing. This term is used most frequently by women looking to avoid "bulking up," as if bulging muscles just pop up overnight. A more "toned" look comes from having more muscle than before.
"I can burn fat in one area."
It is impossible to pick where you burn fat from. Your body will take it from wherever your genes dictate. Squats will not burn fat off your butt, sit-ups will not burn fat off of your stomach and triceps extensions will do nothing for the fat on the back of your arms.
You thought you were being smart or cautious or healthy when it turns out you were being mislead, reckless and just plain doing things wrong.
So don't buy into those myths and you'll be on your way to true fitness!
[Image via Wikimedia Commons.]