When you want fast results from your workout regime, it can be easy to be lured by false information. But the fact is, achieving your goals takes hard work and grit. And shortcuts don’t work. You are better off following a scientifically proven workout and nutrition program and sticking to it. We’ve rounded up some of the worst offenders in the myth department so that you have the information you need to crush your fitness goals.
Sports drinks aren’t going to do anything for you other than quench your thirst—for the moment. They are more likely to work against you. Sports drinks are loaded with sugar. A 20-ounce Gatorade, for example, has 34 grams of sugar. When you drink a sports drink after or during a workout you get a burst of energy followed by a huge crash as your body tries to find its balance again. That sugar crash will make it harder for you to achieve your workout goals.
In fact, bad food choices impact you long after you’ve enjoyed the snack. And you can’t reverse the damage with exercise. If you eat sugar, you’re messing with your body’s insulin levels and hormone balance. No amount of exercise can correct that. You are much better off sticking to a nutrition regime that keeps your body in balance.
FAT LOSS MYTHS
One of the most pervasive myths is that you can isolate the fat on a certain body part. This is totally false. You can’t target fat loss; you can only target muscle development. Fat cells are made up of triglycerides, and muscles can’t use triglycerides directly for fuel. The fat has to be broken down into glycerol and free fatty acids before it enters the bloodstream. So the fat your body burns is taken from anywhere on your body, not just the area you are targeting. If fat burning is your main goal, you want to look at high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
HIIT will make you work up a sweat, but don’t get caught up in the sweat myth. According to ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, you will indeed lose weight when you sweat. But “any weight loss in this manner … represents lost water—not fat.” Sweating is your body’s way of cooling down by releasing stored hydration. So anything you lose through your sweat is going to return when your body is properly hydrated.
You may have heard that you have to do a minimum of 20 minutes of cardio to make it worth your while. Not true. HIIT combines medium and high-intensity cardio exercise which means you can get your body to a more intense state and burn more calories, in less time. Also, high-intensity training creates an after-burn effect, meaning you continue burning calories after you’re done! If you’ve only got 15 minutes to get in a workout, go high intensity and you’ll see results.
MYTHS ABOUT ABS
One of the most common misconceptions is that crunches are a great exercise for your abs. While doing crunches won’t ruin your chances of getting abs, they’re not the most effective exercise for building them. Crunches involve only your upper abs, leaving your lower abs and obliques out. If you want a six-pack, you’re going to need to work on all of your abdominal muscles, and, more important, you need to eat right.
STRENGTH TRAINING MYTHS
Weight and strength training are an important part of any fitness program, but many people push themselves to lift more and more weight. That’s not the most efficient approach. In fact, you don’t even need to use weights at all. Strength training means using resistance to work your muscles, and that resistance doesn’t have to come from a machine or a heavy weight. Bodyweight exercises are also a form of strength training. This means that even if you don’t have access to a gym, there is no excuse!
MYTHS ABOUT FORM
You may have heard somewhere that squats are bad for you. There is some truth in this one. If you have bad form, squats are going to do more harm than good. Poorly executed squats can be bad for your knees and lower back. But if you have the form down, this compound exercise is one of the best moves for building strength and muscle tone through your lower back and quads! And, done correctly, squats can even be good for your knees.
Form is critical for every exercise, not just squats. With almost any exercise, you’ll get better results from ten reps in perfect form than you do from fifty reps in poor form.
MYTHS ABOUT REST
When you’re pushing to shed fat and build muscle, you want to throw everything you’ve got into it. But you shouldn’t be pushing it every day.
When you work out, you’re breaking down muscle fibers so they can rebuild stronger. To rebuild muscle, you need to give your body time to recover. Aim for at least one day per week of active recovery rest. This doesn’t mean you can’t do anything; you should just do an activity that doesn’t put stress on your body. Walking and stretching are great options on rest days.
When you avoid the myths, you amplify your body’s ability to achieve peak performance.