There are so many misconceptions about exercise. Our knowledge about health, fitness, the way the body works, and what it’s capable of is changing all the time. Because fitness and exercise information is always changing and evolving, there’s always a ton of conflicting information out there. I think that makes it pretty easy for opinion or assumption to start being tossed around as fact. What on earth should you believe when it comes to exercise? That’s a big question, but we’re going to look at five exercise myths today that you can check off your list.
When it comes to overall wellness, our bodies are all the same in so many ways, but also different. Meaning what works for one person may not work for someone else. Even if something works for thousands of people, it still may not work for some. Wellness is a journey of learning to understand your own body and listen to what it’s telling you. Sounds kind of deep, huh? It really is kind of deep! Here are some pretty simple, not-so-deep myths you need to get past before you can dive into a more fit and healthy life.
Have you been a believer in any of these exercise myths?
If you aren’t sore, you didn’t get a good workout.
Soreness can be a sign that you did something new or harder than you have been doing, which is good, but it’s not necessary for an effective workout. Many people argue in favor of soreness because they believe it’s the only way to see results. The trouble is, if you are constantly pushing that far in all of your workouts, your muscles stay in a constant state of soreness and swelling, creating stiffness and the possibility of reduced range of motion and permanent changes to your movement patterns. Allowing the body to fully recover between each workout without always creating that severe soreness is ideal for progress.
It’s also ideal for sustainability in your mental and emotional wellbeing. Burnout typically happens in the physical body before it happens in the mind. When you’re constantly feeling the effects of your workouts with sore muscles, it’s going to start to get to you. That constant pain and discomfort is sending stress signals to your brain to repair, repair, repair in over-drive. Relax, fitness is a long game.
Cardio is the best exercise for weight loss.
Oh, cardio. Combined with a calorie deficit, cardio has long been a popular choice for weight loss. But these days it’s definitely been proven that it’s not alone in the category of beneficial when we’re talking about dropping some pounds. After all, it’s not uncommon for people to log hours on the elliptical without losing any weight.
The key seems to be strength training, or rather a combination of strength training and cardio. There’s no doubt that cardio burns more calories than strength training, but a benefit of strength training is that the calorie burn doesn’t end when the exercise does. Your muscle mass plays a big part in your body’s metabolism. Maintaining muscle requires more energy from your body than maintaining fat. So your metabolism speeds up in proportion to the amount of lean muscle it has to work with. Which means it slows down the more fat tissue you have.
These effects may or may not be significant for everyone, but there is no shortage of studies proving the benefits of combining both cardio and strength training for weight loss. I’ll put it this way, cardio alone might work well for you at this stage of your weight loss, but if it’s not working or when it stops working, you will do well to start working some strength training into your routine.
Lifting heavy weights will make you big and bulky
Picture me rolling my eyes. Do you see me? Biggest eye roll ever. First of all, I want to acknowledge that if you aren’t a fitness professional or even just a long time fitness lover and self educator, you can’t be expected to know this. The eye roll is just because, my goodness, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this.
Developing big bulky muscles takes way more work than most people realize. Heavy weight lifting is only one part of muscle mass gains. It involves so much more, including a calorie surplus at one point in the process! I’m willing to bet that’s not on your list of things to do to lose or maintain weight, so you can rest easy.
Heavy weight lifting is so beneficial to women! I hear the phrase, “I just want to tone my _____,” from female clients all the time. Progressing to heavy weight lifting improves your body composition (tones). It will speed up and extend fat burning, reduce your risk of injury and pain, increase spinal bone mineral density (best defense against osteoporosis), improves your balance, stability, and range of motion when combined with functional movements — I could keep going. The bottom line is, this one is a big, bulky myth.
Dynamic training is only for athletes
Thankfully, this one is being debunked more and more these days. We’re seeing dynamic (or functional) training in gyms and offered in online fitness programs. But there are still plenty of people who just don’t understand it – even as they’re doing it. I’m so passionate about dynamic training because I’ve experienced living with it and living without it. There is a huge difference in the quality of my life with this training!
I remember the first woman I ever tried to sell group training to when I worked in a gym. My group training was dynamic functional training. Dynamic meaning movements in all three planes of human movement (sagittal – forward and backward, frontal -side to side, transverse – twisting), and functional meaning exercises which mimic movements performed in daily life. This included both strength and cardio training. Her response was that she had seen a couple of my group training sessions since she had joined the gym and she wasn’t interested because she didn’t play sports and she didn’t need to be that fit.
The truth is that the majority of American bodies are grossly unprepared for the things they are put through on a daily basis. This is because the majority of American minds are not educated about how their bodies work and what their bodies need from them to work optimally. I’ve found that most people just assume they don’t have to contribute to their body’s functioning and if it doesn’t work, well, they must have just been given a dysfunctional body.
This is so far from the truth, as we can see in the overall wellness level of Americans today. The alternatives to dynamic functional training are training our bodies for weight loss or just to stand in one position and lift heavy things. Dynamic functional training strengthens our bodies to move through typical human movement well and with ease and burn fat and grow stronger. Which one sounds like it’s going to give you a better day-to-day quality of life?
You can target certain areas of your body for fat loss
This is probably the king of exercise myths. Let’s keep this one short and sweet. You can’t. People are different in the places they begin to visibly see weight gain and weight loss on their bodies first, but everyone is the same in that they don’t get to choose. There is no science whatsoever proving that we can target and burn fat on specific areas of our bodies. It is what it is. It’s a whole-body process.
What exercise myths have you believed in the past?
There are so many more exercise myths out there! Let’s share some in the comments.