Myths are beliefs that lack support from science or societal consensus. Examples include believing that lightning never strikes the same place twice or that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer.
In fitness circles, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. We’ve rounded up some of the most common myths and busted them for you.
Myth 1: Cardio Burns Fat
One of the most pervasive fitness myths in existence is that cardio burns fat. You can find this myth on the walls of most gyms or on the cardio machines themselves. It states that if you workout at an intensity level in the “fat burning zone,” you will burn more calories from fat than if you worked out at a higher intensity.
While it is true that at some workout intensities you will burn more calories from fat, it is not the only way to burn fat, and it’s a very small part of the equation. During low-intensity workouts, you will actually burn more total calories than high-intensity interval training.
Also, while muscle growth does cause DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness), the amount of time it takes for muscles to grow is not related to the amount of sweat you break during your workouts. Many factors impact how much you sweat during a workout, including temperature, humidity and hydration levels.
Myth 2: Sit-Ups Burn Stomach Fat
Many workout tutorials include sit-ups and other abdominal exercises in their routines to help lose belly fat. While these exercises are great for improving your core strength, it is important to understand that there is no such thing as spot reduction. Your body burns fat from all over the body, not just where you’re working out.
Doing sit-ups and crunches can strengthen the abdominal muscles, specifically the external obliques, hip flexors and the lower back muscles. These muscles are necessary to perform everyday movements, including sitting up from a lying down position and lifting heavy objects.
In addition to strengthening these muscles, sit-ups can also help prevent and alleviate back pain. However, in order to lose belly fat it’s essential to incorporate a well-rounded exercise program and healthy eating habits. Achieving a calorie deficit is the primary factor that supports successful weight loss outcomes.
Myth 3: Weight Lifting Bulks Up Women
The fitness landscape is flooded with information and advice, but it can be hard to sort out what’s useful from what’s not. It’s particularly difficult to separate fact from fiction when it comes to weight lifting, a popular exercise that many women shy away from due to misconceptions.
One of the most common myths that Cervantes hears is that weight lifting bulks up women and makes them look like bodybuilders. This is a common concern that holds many women back from hitting the gym, and it’s simply not true.
In order to bulk up, you need to be in a calorie surplus and follow hypertrophic training, which requires a lot of time in the gym. Even if you are lifting heavy weights, it will be nearly impossible to achieve that chiseled look unless you’re in the gym almost every day and eating enough calories to support muscle growth. The best way to lose fat and gain muscle is to combine weight lifting with cardio exercises and to eat a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables.
Myth 4: Squatting Is Bad for Your Knees and Back
The squat is one of the most effective exercises for strengthening your entire lower body and improving athletic performance. It engages the quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors, glutes, and hip flexors to build strength and power.
Studies have found that the squat is safe for most healthy individuals without any previous knee or back injuries, provided you don’t squat deep beyond your pain-free range of motion. While squatting to parallel or below can increase compressive loads on the meniscus and patellofemoral joint (PFJ), this is not likely to cause injury unless you have previously injured these structures.
If you are a competitive athlete or perform other sports that put you at high risk of injuries, it is always a good idea to get specialist gym insurance to cover your training expenses while you’re recovering from an injury. This way you can keep your training schedule on track and continue to progress towards your fitness goals. While it may not be fun to miss out on workouts, your muscles will ultimately benefit from the extra time they have to recover and grow stronger.