It’s not hard to find someone willing to lend advice about how to gain muscle faster or how to lose weight quicker, especially if you ask around at the gym. Unfortunately, some fitness advice is based off of hearsay or personal opinion, not on facts. Some advice is just plain outdated (as with our first myth). It’s time to break down some of the most popular fitness myths.
Myth: Isolated Static Stretching before working out is critical to prevent injuries.
Fact: It is best to do dynamic stretching before and static after working out.
Forget what your 6th grade gym teacher taught you. If you perform static stretching (the type where you sit and hold a stretch), you are more likely to be injured and perform at a slower rate. One research study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports found that static stretching could negatively affect strength, power, and explosive performance. Another study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that static stretching before weight lifting made people feel weaker when compared to dynamic stretching. Instead, try static stretching after a workout. It will help cool down your muscles slowly and safely.
Dynamic stretching (constant movement, think running in place or high knees) before exercise has been shown to be more effective in helping prevent injury and improving performance. In summary, it is recommended that athletes do dynamic stretching before working out and static after working out.
Myth: I don't need to do cardio if I'm strength training.
Fact: Both strength training and cardiovascular exercise are important.
Most people who are trying to increase the size of their muscles focus on strength training/weight lifting. Others, who wish to lose weight or body fat, tend to focus on cardiovascular training. Which one is better? Whether you are looking to get bigger muscles or just be more fit and healthy overall, it is important to do both strength and cardiovascular training. Here’s why. When you are lifting weights and working out to say, get abs, you will need to both build the muscle (by doing a variety of ab exercises) and also reduce the amount of body fat in your abdomen…this is where the cardiovascular training comes in (and also a healthy diet). Cardiovascular training will help burn excess fat and reveal the abs you’ve worked so hard for.
For those focusing on improving health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you do at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous cardiovascular activity in addition to 2 days of strength training per week. By following these guidelines, you are at a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and many other weight-related diseases.
Myth: Doing crunches is the best way to get abs.
Fact: Abs are made is the kitchen (have a healthy diet) and by doing a variety of ab exercises.
The days of ab roller infomercials may be long gone, but for many this myth still exists. The problem is that no matter how many crunches you do, if you don’t have a healthy diet, your abs will be hidden behind layers of fat. This is why it is important to eat a healthy diet full of lean protein, whole grains, and fruit and vegetables. It is also important to incorporate a variety of ab exercises into your routine. By adding diversity, you will work all the different muscles in your abdomen, not just the same ones over and over.
Myth: The more you sweat, the harder you’re working (and more calories you’re burning).
Fact: Sweating is simply the body’s ability to regulate your body temperature.
Sorry, heavy sweaters, just because you are sweating more than your neighbor doesn’t mean you are burning more calories. Sweating is simply the body’s way of cooling off. The good news is that sweating may be indicative of being more “fit”. Studies have shown that more fit people sweat faster and more than less fit people.