Are you spending hours at the gym and not seeing the results you were hoping for? Most likely this is a result of some poor fitness advice. Here are some common fitness myths and misconceptions that won’t help you reach your personal health goals.
Crunches are the key to flat abs
How many of you have done crunches after hitting the buffet? Unfortunately, this classic ab workout isn’t actually the most effective way to slim down your midsection. If you want a toned look, you need to focus on burning the layer of fat that may be covering your belly. Experts say that losing this fat can only come from a combination of interval training, utilizing carbs effectively, getting adequate sleep, keeping your stress levels low, and finding the fitness routine that works for you (ideally with a personal trainer or coach). Ultimately, the only thing you’re going to lose by doing crunches is your time.
Stretching before working out is crucial to preventing injury
While stretching after a workout can be beneficial, there is no evidence showing that stretching before a workout will actually reduce your likelihood of injury. This myth is so widely believed to be true that many coaches and fitness advocates still stretch before they workout. It wasn’t until the late 1990s and early 2000s that researchers began to investigate the effectiveness of the pre-workout stretch. This research has failed to show any relationship between pre-workout stretching and injury prevention. Some studies suggest that stretching beforehand actually destabilizes muscles, which results in them being less prepared for strenuous activity. However, stretching after exercise has been shown to reduce injury, so you’re not completely off the hook.
Squats are bad for your knees
Squats get a bad rep and it’s relatively undeserved. Many trainers and coaches still tell their players and clients not to move past your toes when squatting (or lunging). This is just not true. Runners will tell you every time they run they move their knee past their toes. Even in everyday life, we’re required to put our knees ahead of our toes when we go up a flight of stairs. That said, not everyone should aim to get their knees ahead of their toes when squatting. Individuals with shorter legs tend to squat without their knees going beyond the length of their toes, while those with longer legs do so naturally. The key is to perform squats properly. Most people who injury themselves while squatting do so as a result of poor form.
Exercise can erase my bad eating habits
Even for the most high-performance athletes, the old saying “You are what you eat” still remains true. Working out on a regular basis has many health benefits, but it can't erase the overwhelmingly harmful effects of unhealthy foods. Weight gain comes down to being a calorie game and the majority of people end up over-estimating the number of calories they burn per hour. Even worse, many of us treat ourselves to fast food and junk food after we exercise, which causes you to gain just as many calories as you just lost—if not more.
More sweat = a better workout
Sweating might make you look like you’re working harder, but in order to actually burn more calories, your muscles have to put out more effort, your heart has to beat faster, and your breathing rate has to increase as well. Sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself down. In fact, the more fit we become, the more efficient our bodies become and as a result, we sweat less.