When it comes exercise and training, there is no short supply of advice and strong opinions regarding the matter. Although there is a lot of conventional wisdom out there, it can be difficult to know the difference between accurate/factual information and someone’s opinion. Following misleading information regarding health and fitness can be detrimental to your progress. Here we take a look at some of the most common fitness myths you need to stop believing.
- You can target certain areas for weight loss
We’ve all come across headlines like “do these exercises for a flat stomach” or “try these exercises for slimmer upper arms”. Although it does make sense to want to target certain problem areas of one’s body, it does not quite work out like that. If you are exercising to lose weight, you will essentially lose the weight over your whole body as opposed to the particular areas you are targeting. Your body type and physiology will also dictate where you shed the fat first. If you wish to lose belly fat for instance or anywhere else, you will need to maintain a calorie deficit i.e expend more calories while following a consistent exercise routine in conjunction with a healthy and balanced diet.
- Sore muscles are part of working out
Motivational phrases such as “feel the burn” and “no pain no gain” convince us that pain and soreness are just part of a regular exercise regime. However, it does not necessarily mean that is has to always be painful. There are ways to manage and relieve muscle soreness caused by exercise, so you can achieve the results you want minus the pain. Another perk of a pain-free training session may be faster recovery which makes it easier to maintain regular workouts.
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and muscle fatigue are common a day or two after a newly introduced/strenuous exercise regime. This is caused by microtrauma to the muscle fibres and is usually felt 24-72 hours after exercising. Making use of a foam roller in conjunction with stretching after exercise will help to relieve soreness and aid recovery by increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the tissue, as well as removing metabolic waste products. In addition, foam rolling may help with myofascial release (releasing muscle and fascial stiffness) ensuring your muscles remain in shape.
- More sweat means you’re burning more calories
Sweating more during one’s workout doesn’t always translate to burning more calories. Copious amounts of sweat could be an indication that you are working hard, but it could also be due to other factors such as the environment in which you are exercising, you own personal physiology – some people sweat more than others. The only way to burn more calories and improve one’s fitness is to work harder (through training intensity, duration and/or frequency). A more accurate way to check if you are working hard enough is your heart rate. It is said that for maximum weight loss your aerobic training heart rate should be between 50-75% of your heat rate reserve above your resting heart rate (Max heart rate – resting heart rate). It is important to monitor this across your workouts because as you get more fit, you will need to step things up and challenge yourself further in order to achieve the same level of impact and avoid hitting a plateau.
- If you eat healthy, you don’t need supplements
Many people assume that as long as you maintain a healthy and balanced diet, you will get all the nutrients your body needs. The food we consume today is affected by depleted soils as well as long-term storage and transport. This means the nutrients in said food are reduced by the time we consume it. Furthermore, our modern, stressful lifestyles as well as toxic environmental factors such as pollution, mean our bodies need more support. This is especially if you have a medium to high impact fitness routine, taking vitamins and supplements is essential to make sure you can deliver at your peak performance.
In order to get the most out of your supplements, you want to ensure that you take them correctly. The best time to take supplements can vary depending on the supplement class: herbal remedies and anything you are taking for medicinal purposes, are sometimes taken on an empty stomach but otherwise indicated. Nutritional supplements are generally taken with food to assist with absorption and assimilation of the nutrients.
- You should load up on protein after lifting weights
Even though lean protein is a key component of a healthy, balanced diet that is essential to achieving physical fitness, there is no evidence to say that ingesting it immediately after a weights-based training regime or even exercise in general, makes any substantial difference to building muscle mass(However, providing some fast absorbing carbohydrates after training will help replenish glycogen reserves) It is more beneficial to increase your protein intake throughout the day rather than trying to cram it into one meal.