About once a year, I hit on one of my favorite topics: Fitness myths. It never fails that I come across an article or talk with someone who is convinced that some ridiculous fact about exercise, nutrition or other aspect of wellness is indeed true. I love to call shenanigans on a few of these interesting and somewhat entertaining health and fitness myths.
Now let's cut through a few of these myths.
1. Let's start with the age-old "if you stop exercising, your muscles will turn to fat." This one is definitely false! Your muscles will just reduce in size. Fat and muscle are two very different types of body tissues; you can't turn one into the other.
2. "If women lift weights, they will become manly or man-like." Men and women have different muscle fiber density. Overall, women have a lower proportion of their lean tissue distributed in the upper body making it very hard to have upper body bulking like a man can have. This fact is less prevalent in their lower body, but again men can bulk far more than women. Ladies get out there and do what you want, you will not look like Arnold.
3. "Squats are bad for your knees." Let me just say "Heck no." Doing any exercise incorrectly can be very bad for your body. Let's keep in mind that "open-chain" exercises where a single joint is activated, like leg extensions, can have more risk to injury than a "closed-chain" multiple joint exercise, like squats. Full squats, when done properly, will strengthen your quadriceps and the hamstrings that help control your knees. When squats are done correctly, parallel with the ground with a slight dip and staying on your heels, your knees will be good.
4. "No pain, no gain." We have all heard this going back to youth sports. The fact is, being active and working out should not hurt. The one obvious thing that you may feel after a great workout is muscle soreness, not pain. Trainers and coaches that drive the point that pain is a sign of progress should always be questioned because they may be creating injuries unnecessarily.
5. This one is one of the worst myths out there. "Muscle weighs more than fat. If you place one pound of muscle on a scale and one pound of fat on a scale, they will both weigh one pound." This one is completely false. The real difference between them is in total volume. One of the first things people notice when they start an exercise program is the loss of inches. Which means you're burning away bulky fats and firming up lean tight muscle.
6. "Lifting weights is bad for children." Most experts now agree that lifting moderate weights with good form and technique is not bad for children. In fact, lifting weights increases bone density, strengthens their musculoskeletal system - which can help prevent injuries, and increases metabolism - which helps fight childhood obesity. Research has shown early childhood bone density growth actually can have a lifelong advantage, especially for girls.
7. "Having an aggressive core workout will get you six-pack abs." Roughly 80 percent of your body composition is defined by what you eat. A strong core workout is great, but that six pack will never show if you do not include a strict diet to lose the belly fat that typically covers your abdominal core area. A strict diet, which also includes fasting, is the best way to get your abs to show up.
8. OK, I am going to speak blasphemy. "Cardio is more important for fat loss than weight lifting." Absolutely not! Cardio is very good for your health and overall wellness and it does burn calories. Muscle is the single biggest threat to fat - muscle uses fat for fuel and lean muscle will burn fat like nothing else. Building lean muscle should be the second most important aspect to fat loss, just behind having a good nutrition program.
9. "You can tone just one area of your body." The fact is when you workout, you are working various areas of the body or your kinetic chain, which means you cannot tone just one area. This is not to say that you cannot overbuild certain muscle groups more than others.
We have all seen the guy with big shoulders, huge biceps and skinny sticks for legs. Your best exercises will be the ones that give you a full body workout.
10. "Eating non-fat or low fat foods is healthy and will help you lose weight." This one is another big myth that actually can lead to a number of health problems. Most non-fat low fat foods are loaded with sugar - or even worse, artificial sweeteners and man-made fats. You need to turn your body into a fat burner and good fats make an excellent source of fuel. Unfortunately, man-made or hydrogenated fats are very bad for your heart and will increase your bad cholesterol levels. Sugars and empty carbs loaded with trans-fat should be reduced and avoided, but good fats are needed and very important to brain health and fueling your body.
Most of you know that these myths are not true, but as we make our way through each day, it's good to confirm and verify fitness facts and follow common sense. If it sounds questionable, then inquire and don't ever go with something that does not seem right without checking the facts.
A recognized health and wellness presenter, fitness trainer and now primal health coach in the Inland Northwest. Now in his eighth year of bringing health and wellness through his writing, teaching and coaching, Judd delivers his well-rounded message of mindfulness, nutrition and fitness to readers and clients alike.