Ah January! Famously the month where magazines will release the hot new crash diet and people will overrun the local gym in order to feel healthy again after all of the Christmas food they've been eating; probably want to lose a bit of weight as well. And that is exactly why I thought to start the year of 2020 by debunking some stubborn workout myths. With the help from my friends on Instagram and Twitter I've collected 7 myths plus added a new myth that I came across some months ago.
For some reason some workout myths just won't go away. Health professionals such as myself have been trying (and trying and trying...) for years to correct them and yet many, if not all, are still around. Why? I suppose I understand some of them. They're feeding into the fantasy that there's an easier way, a quicker way. After all, there's a reason why people keep going on crash diets as well even though we all know it's crap and it doesn't work in the long run. Others, I'm not so sure. Hopefully I will get at least one person to see the light and help them to understand why these workout myths are indeed myths.
Why should you listen to me? I have a Bachelor Degree in Physiotherapy from 2014 which means that I have a comprehensive understanding of the human body - physiology and full anatomy - and even though I never had patients where the goal mainly have been weightloss the basics of how the body works is still the same. Now let's do this!
DO 1 HOUR+ DAILY CARDIO TO LOSE WEIGHT
Verdict: true and false
Right off the bat I have to inform you that a lot of people, even professional trainers, have a habit of making things simple. Too simple. The truth is that even though the theory is simple the real world is anything but.
1. Doing 1 hour cardio every day would help you lose weight IF it brought you to a calorie deficit, meaning that you burn more calories than you consume. Most of our calories we burn by simply exisisting. That's called Resting Metabolic Rate.
2. HOWEVER doing 1 hour cardio every day would make you burn not only fat but muscle! That's very important to remember! This is exactly why I always encourage a good balance between cardio and strengthening exercises.
3. You can minimize the time you spend on cardio by cranking up the intensity. That's what we call HIIT training. It's especially great for people with busy lives because it means that you can get all of the health benefits in less amount of time: 15-30 min to be exact. Word to the wise, HIIT isn't for everyone!
4. On top of all that you also have to be aware that your body needs restitution. When we exercise we're breaking down the body and it needs time to built itself back up. This is why we get more muscular when doing strengthening exercises; the body adapts to the new challenges its facing.
Side note: There's actually one muscle in your body that will get stronger by you doing cardio: your heart! That's why I personally call it heart-exercise.
HEAVY LIFTING MAKES WOMEN LOOK BULKY/LIKE A MAN
It's one of the classic myths and one I often hear. I assume what people - women - mean is that they don't want to look like a bodybuilder or a bikini fitness er.. person. There's really only one thing to say to that: do you have any idea how much time you'd have to spend in the gym and how clean you'd have to eat to ever look like that? These people work out 1-3 hours a day, 6 days a week. They hardly do cardio - if any at all because, as we've established above, cardio burns muscle - and lift extremely heavy. On top of that they eat a lot of protein and from a regular diet standpoint, their diets are usually pretty boring. It's especially difficult for women to look bulky as we've naturally less inclined to be able to built big muscles to begin with.
As a woman there's a huge health benefit to lifting weights: it helps prevent Osteoporosis which women are more in risk of getting after Menopause due to our decreasing levels of estrogen. As a side bonus all that muscle will make you look lean and because muscle burns more calories than fat you can also eat more without gaining weight. How great is that? So off you go, lift some heavy weights. It's good for you!
IF IT DOESN'T HURT IT'S NOT WORKING
What people are referring to is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS for short. It is a type of muscle soreness that can occur a day or two after a workout and lasts between 1-3 days. It is a common misconception that if you don't feel this muscle soreness after a workout you've not "done enough". It's important to understand that DOMS typically happens after you've challenged your body in a new way. It can be changing your workout by introducing new exercises, increasing weight or repetitions etc. It's basically the body's response and adaptation to the new challenge.
Additional facts: DOMS is essentially caused by tiny microscopic tears in your muscle fibers. Your body responds to this damage by increasing inflammation which is what makes you feel sore. Inflammation is the body's natural response of trying to repair itself by increasing the bloodflow to the area.
YOU HAVE TO RUN TO LOSE STUBBORN WEIGHT
At least in the sense that you HAVE TO run to lose weight. You don't, but I always recommend some type of cardio because it helps you to get that calorie deficit you need in order to lose weight (read: fat) and it's good for the heart. You can definitely lose weight without any cardio but you're in for a very restricted diet since doing cardio burns more calories on a daily basis than strengthening exercises. Obviously you will burn more calories the more muscle mass you have but that's not the point I'm trying to make.
Also: what is "stubborn weight"? It's a made up term for what people who are trying to lose weight experience once they get close to their goal weight. Basically, the closer you get the harder it is to lose weight or so it seems. What really happens is that the calorie deficit and the calories you need to maintain your goal weight become very similar. It's simple maths really. So even though it often seems like those last 5 pounds may be "stubborn" you will eventually lose it by being consistent with your diet and exercise. After all, you're making sustainable lifestyle changes so even though it might take a while you will eventually reach your goal weight. My advice? Be patient, live your life and stick to your diet and exercise routine.
THE WORKOUT IS ONLY EFFECTIVE IF YOU WORK OUT FOR MORE THAN 20 MIN.
It's like saying "it's the last repetition that counts". It all counts. The best exercise is the one you get done. However the myth above could also be about how much exercise you need to reap the health benefits that actually matters. That's why we have recommendations from e.g. WHO that, based on scientific studies, tells us how much exercise we need during the day to help lower the risk of diseases caused by inactivity.
I don't know who came up with this one in the first place but I want to punch that person in the face. It's an old classic and one that, despite being debunked many years ago, still lives on. I get that it can be a nice thought that you can work out your abs or arms and then the fat will magically melt away in those specific areas. Sadly it is not true! What will make you look lean is building muscle mass which means: strengthening exercises! By having a balanced combination of cardio, a diet consisting of healthy fats (because your body does need the right kind of fat to function) and strengthening exercises to prevent your body from burning muscle instead of fat you will acieve a lower body fat percentage overall. That's the way to do it. Hard work, no shortcuts.
GET RID OF HIP DIPS WITH EXERCISE
I added this one because it needs to be put in its grave before it becomes true in people's minds. I came across this one online somewhere. I don't even remember where exactly but it might have been YouTube; one of those damn fitness influencers who dosen't have an actual fitness related education. It seems reasonable.
Anyway, I thought we were done after the thigh gab went out of fashion but here we are. What they're talking about is, of course, having hips like the Kardashians or other celebrities. If you don't know what a hip dip is take a look at the picture to the left.
The problem is that it's our skeleton that is shaped this way and, forgive me, but I've never heard of exercises that could alter your bones. If you want to get rid of hip dips you can get injections surgically which is most likely what the Kardashians have had done.
That is it for today, I hope you found it somewhat educational and worth your time. If you have any other myths you wan't me to comment on or debunk feel free to drop them in the comment section down below. If there's enough for a part 2 I will make it happen. Saying that I want to apologize for taking so long to write this one. It's on the embarrasing side of 9 months and I hope you'll all forgive me. I'm a slow mover.
What other myths do you know of?
Did I debunk any myths you thought were true?
Why do you think myths that are not true won't die?
Visit my website: www.nilyme.wordpress.com