Whether you’re trying to tone up, lose weight or improve your mood, it’s very likely you’ve already tried to make adjustments to your workout routine.
There is, unfortunately, lots of training advice on the Internet that would most likely confuse and derail you from reaching your fitness goals and might actually cause more harm than good.
In this article, we present the 11 of the most enduring fitness myths and misconceptions, as well as research from real scientific studies which will help you achieve your dream physique in the fastest and healthiest way possible.
Myth #1: If you want to stay in shape, working out once or twice per week is enough.
The truth: Once or twice per week is simply not enough to maintain your current fitness level. If you want your workouts to trigger any real changes in your physique, you should be training at least 3-5 times per week.
This was supported by a study published in the American Heart Association’s journal “Circulation” which found that one can get the greatest heart health benefits when the subjects workout out at least 4-5 times per week.
Myth #2: The best time to train is first thing in the morning.
The truth: The best time to train is whatever suits your schedule and allows you to do it on a regular basis. Ideally, you would want to make going to the gym a daily habit, which means if training late at night feels good for you, keep it up.
If you prefer to do it in the morning, well do it then. If you still haven’t decided on what the best time for you to train is, there has been some research which suggests that training first thing in the morning may help increase the weight loss rate by priming your body to burn more calories during the day.
Myth #3: Lifting weights turns the fat into muscle.
The truth: It’s not possible to turn fat tissue into muscle tissue. From a physiological standpoint, they are completely different tissues. Adipose tissue (fat), is found right under the skin, in between muscles and around internal organs, the heart, the liver etc.
Muscle tissue, which also can be divided into 3 main types, is found all over the body. Lifting weights (resistance training) helps build muscle tissue in and around any type of fat tissue.
The most optimal way to decrease fat tissue is to consume a healthy diet which contains whole grains, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats like the ones found in fish and olive oil.
Myth #4: Games and puzzles provide a great “workout” for the brain.
The truth: Good old physical exercise is still a better method to increase your brain health than any type of mental exercise available, according to numerous studies.
These studies have also suggested that aerobic exercise, or any kind of activity which increases the heart rate and gets you sweating and moving for a prolonged period of time, has a significant, tremendously beneficial impact on your brain.
When it comes to improving your mood and memory and protecting the brain against cognitive decline typically associated with age, working out might as the closest thing to a magic fix we could ever get. Aerobic exercise seems to be the key to your brain’s health, as it is for the heart.
Myth #5: Working out is the best method for successful weight loss.
The truth: If losing weight is your main goal, don’t think that you can easily shed the fat by just working out and that you can eat whatever you want. Nutrition experts say that losing weight should always start with great changes in your eating habits.
When it comes to losing weight, your diet plays a much bigger role than working out. That is not to say that being physically active on a regular basis is not an essential part of any healthy and fit lifestyle.
Myth #6: Sit-ups are the best exercise to get a six-pack.
The truth: In comparison to sit-ups, which only target the abdominal muscles, doing planks engages several muscle groups along your sides, back, and front.
If you want to have a strong core, especially a core with a six-pack ab definition, you need to challenge all the muscle that comprise the midsection.
Doing crunches or sit-ups only strengthens a few groups of muscles. Through several types of dynamic movement patterns, a good core workout will help you strengthen all the core muscles that you use every day.
Myth #7: Lifting weights is for men only.
The truth: Resistance training is a great way to build muscle size and strength, and is completely unrelated to gender. Having said that, it needs to be pointed out that women produce a lot less testosterone than men do, and research has already concluded that hormones play a crucial rule in how much muscle we can build.
Myth #8: At least two weeks need to pass before you start getting out of shape.
The truth: For the majority of people, muscle tissue breakdown can start as early as within one week of stopping regular exercise. Once you stop working out, you start to get “de-conditioned” pretty fast, within as little as 7 days of beginning the rest. You can sum it up as “either use it or lose it”. More about this : Do Muscles Really Turn to Fat When You Stop Working Out ?
Myth #9: Running marathons is the best way to get in shape.
The truth: You can get the same benefits of running long distances without ever having to pass the 5-mile mark. If you’re not feeling ready to run a marathon, there’s no need to worry at all.
Running fast and intensely for only 5-10 minutes per day can give you some of the same health benefits as running for several hours. Actually, people who run less than an hour a week (provided that they run those few minutes per day), see very similar benefits to their heart health compared to people who run more than three hours a week.
Additionally, recent research found that short, but intense bursts of exercise can give you the same health benefits as long, endurance type exercising, plus, they are usually a lot more fun.
Myth #10: Tracking your food intake in a diary is a reliable method of controlling and monitoring what you eat.
The truth: Even when we are making a conscious effort about what we are putting into our mouths and measuring our level of activity, very often it happens that we give ourselves more credit than we actually deserve.
People have a tendency to drastically overestimate their level of physical activity and underestimate the amount of food that they eat. People always make the mistake of thinking that they have worked out more and that they have eaten less.
Myth #11: Sports beverages are the best way to re-hydrate after training.
The truth: The majority of sports beverages are mainly made of sugar and water. Experts recommend drinking plain old water instead, coupled with a snack high in protein.
That’s because studies have shown that protein helps re-condition the muscles after training. Taking into consideration that supplements such as protein powders are highly unregulated, your best bet is to consume foods that are high in protein.