One of the biggest concerns when it comes to physical exercise is usually about form or technique. However, a larger concern involves the numerous fitness myths out there. You're probably familiar with a lot of these myths, and unfortunately, you may believe a lot of them to be true as well. These myths include things like, "If I stop eating carbs I'll be thin" or "If I lift weights I'll get bulky." It's understandable why a lot of these myths exist as some of them seem sort of common sense. However, my goal here today is to separate fact from fiction, truth from horror story, and help you begin to make the smarter choice when it comes to your physical health.
Livestrong published an excellent article diving into a lot of these myths, and I've selected a few I feel are worth examining.
1. If I want to lose weight, I have to stop eating carbs. This one in particular drives me nuts. My best friend is adamant about the no-carb rule, severely limiting his intake of carbohydrates. He can't seem to understand why he feels sluggish at times during the day. I’ve told him many times that it isn’t about swearing off carbohydrates in general, but ensuring you’re eating the right foods at the right times. Carbohydrates are an essential source of energy, and for most exercise programs, they are your body’s first source of fuel. Eating the right carbohydrates like whole grains, beans and vegetables throughout the day can provide you with the energy you need to get through your workout.
2. “I’m injured. I shouldn’t workout at all.” It certainly depends on the severity of your injury. Any kind of internal injury is certainly reason enough to stay out of the gym for a while. The same goes for head injuries. However, if you have somewhat of a minor injury (let’s say for example, a sprain) it can be rather easy to modify your workouts to ensure you’re either still getting your heart rate up or working out other parts of your body.
Several months ago, I severely sprained my wrist. I was worried about how it was going to affect my future workouts and worked together with a physiotherapist to develop a program that would enable me to continue to get my daily exercise. It really was a blessing in disguise as I soon fell in love with core and leg workouts! Not only will continuing to work out the other parts of your body help strengthen muscles you may not exercise as much, but you’ll be able to give your injury ample time to heal.
3. The morning is the best time to train. I can see why most people believe this one. It makes sense if you really think about it. Working out as early as possible allows your body to spend more time rebuilding and absorbing vitamins, nutrients, and protein to help you recover. However, what’s more important is maximizing the time that you do have. Depending on your schedule, you may find that workouts in the mid-afternoon or even at night work best for you. The key is finding a routine that works best for you and sticking to it. Listen to your body and when you have the most energy, you can really end up having an excellent workout!
4. Cardio is the only way for me to lose weight.
There is a common misconception out there that cardio workouts like running are the easiest way to burn calories. While cardio is a great way to burn calories, weight training can be more effective in burning calories because resistance training can keep your metabolism levels raised for 24 to 48 hours after the workout. So while cardio workouts can be a great burst of calorie burning fun, resistance training can actually burn more calories over an extended period of time. Speaking of resistance training…
5. Lifting weights will make me bulky. I’ve had people talk to me about this concern before, and I’ve completely understood their misconception. When you think about weight training, it’s easy for images of big gigantic men grunting through bench presses to come to mind. However, lifting the right amount of weight and eating the right foods can contribute to a lean and toned look. Trainer Irene Lewis-McCormick commented on this in The Huffington Post, stating that “Men and women who train similarly have the ability to increase their muscular strength, but because women have lower levels of testosterone and fewer and smaller muscle fibers than men, they do not have the ability to increase muscle size the way men do.”