Gym rat or not, we all have some preconceived ideas about the whats, whens, wheres, whys, and hows of exercise. While there is no definite right or wrong way to work out, there are a few commonly held misconceptions that can hinder your progress at the gym. Take a look at these 5 common exercise “myths” and see if any of them sound familiar to you.
1. Exercising on an empty stomach boosts fat loss
Exercising on an empty stomach may seem like a great idea; with no food in your system, it seems to speak to reason that your body would tap into your fat reserves to locate the fuel it needs to power through an intense gym session. However, this is hardly the case. In order for your body to burn any fat all, it needs to have glucose. If there is none present, your body is incapable of entering into burning mode at all. Instead, it goes into a catabolic state, in which muscle tissue is used for energy. Not only does this have the potential to be incredibly damaging, it can also be ineffective, as you’ll be unable to work out at a sustained intensity for any length of time.
2. Weight lifting will bulk you up
The majority of girls that I know refuse to lift weights because they’re afraid that they’re going to get Arnold Schwarzenegger-brolic. Well, I’m here to tell you that that is complete nonsense. For one, we lack the proper amounts of the particular hormone that men (like Mr. Schwarzenegger) have that allow them to develop huge muscles: testosterone. So when we lift weights, yes we build muscle tissue but not to the same extent. In fact, weight lifting helps to develop lean muscle mass, which burns more calories than fat. Unlike cardio, which only burns calories during a given session, weight lifting allows the body to continue to burn a higher amount of calories long after the work out has ended.
3. The order in which you workout matters
Some people claim that it’s imperative to lift weights before hitting the treadmill while others tout quite the contrary. Well guys, I’m here to tell you that it really doesn’t matter at all. A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology followed the fitness routines of 34 men for 24 weeks, half the group performing cardio before weight lifting and the other half doing the reverse. At the end of the study, the researchers found that both groups of men experienced the same increase in overall physical performance. So stick with what works for you.
4. It is possible to target trouble spots
Okay, I hope you still don’t believe that you can make your gut go away by doing crunches. It just isn’t going to happen. It is impossible to pick and choose the areas where you’d like to gain/lose weight. I’d love to have a bigger butt, but I know that eating 7 burritos won’t help me get there. Similarly, 100s of reps of abdominal exercises aren’t going to help me lose my burrito belly. A body’s fat burning process is highly individualized, being that it is based off of genetics. Work on improving your overall health and your body will follow suit, trust me.
5. More cardio = more weight loss
Running burns calories so I should run for 2+ hours to burn even more calories…right? Wrong. More time spent sweating it out on your gym machine of choice does not necessarily mean less inches on the weight. After roughly 45 minutes of intense cardio exercise, you’re body shifts from fat burning mode into (yup you guessed it) the catabolic state. When your body burns muscle tissue, the result is an overall slower metabolism, which can cause you to gain weight in the long run. Instead of torturing yourself with hours of boring, repetitive cardio, start favoring shorter sessions with quick bursts of high intensity intervals.
What exercise myth have you been the victim of?
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