While planning to start a fitness regime, two things get penned down on our to-do list. Dieting and Exercising. For exercise, we start searching for the best of the gyms, fitness wearables, fitness apps, etc. But, what do we have in mind? What are our expected results? How are we working towards it?
Usually, we have many misconceptions about the what, why and how of exercising. This blog is intended on putting light on and bust 10 common exercise myths. So, let’s get started!
Fear of bulking-up:
Women especially avoid strength training saying they do not want to pack on too much of muscle and look manly. Biologically, women do not have as high levels of the hormone testosterone as men. Testosterone is the hormone that helps is getting that bulked-up look. Hence, it is very unlikely that women would bulk-up or ‘look manly’ by following a normal strength training routine. In fact, women should definitely do strength training because it helps in building and maintaining muscle mass and muscle being a metabolically active tissue, helps in fat burning even when the body is at rest. Also, strength training helps in improving bone density, strengthening the musculoskeletal structure.
No gym-No weight training:
Some believe that if they do not have access to a fully equipped gym, weight training is out of the question. Weight training simply means resistance training i.e., resistance to the working muscles. This resistance does not necessarily need to come from an exercising machine but, can also come from one’s own body weight. Apart from doing bodyweight exercises, one can also use equipment like resistance bands, kettlebells, medicine ball, etc for exercising at home or outdoors.
- Walking/jogging – best exercise to lose weight:
Many believe that only walking, running, cycling, playing any sport daily, etc, is more than enough exercise to lose weight. It is true that cardio exercises help in burning fat. But, only too much of cardio and no strength training will lead to decrease in muscle mass. Due to losing a metabolically active tissue, the body will tend to hold on to fat rather than losing it. Hence, for effective a sustainable fat loss, a balance in cardio and strength training is essential.
- More sweating means good workout:
Sweating is a thermoregulatory process by which the body regulates its temperature. When your core temperature increases, you sweat. Through an intense workout, muscles create heat and hence the body sweats to expel the internal heat. But, sweating does not only depend on your workout. It also depends on the weather conditions in which you are working out. Body cooling depends on the evaporation of the sweat. Hence, you might feel you are sweating more in a humid climate since the evaporation of sweat does not take place properly.
- Exercise should be done daily:
Exercise causes muscle breakdown so that, with good rest and nutrition, you build more and stronger muscle fibers. But, for recovery, an adequate period of rest is necessary. The rest days would depend on the intensity of the workout. We can aim at having a day or two of ‘Active Rest Days’ in a week where you do something as simple as a walking and stretching session, which does not put too much stress on the body but, at the same time, keeps you active for the day.
- More soreness means good workout:
Where there is muscle breakdown, there is soreness. Agreed. But, it is not always an indicator of a good workout session. Soreness comes when the muscle tissue breaks down after a significant amount of stress is applied to it. An adequately intense workout session, coupled with good refueling and rest might not make you sore the next day. To minimize soreness, you need to take care of the following; a good pre-workout and post workout meal, adequate water intake, and good sleep for recovery.
- Targeting only one area :
We hear people saying “I want to lose fat from my belly area only” or “I want to reduce only my arms and hips, rest of my body is okay”. By nature, certain areas of our body like the abdomen, back, arms, etc, tend to store more fat compared to other body parts. But, fat is present all over the body and will burn from all over. Hence, when intense workout and healthy diet is followed, the excess fat will burn from all over the body but, will take longer to reduce from those areas where it is accumulated more.
- Crunch to get those six-pack abs:
Six-pack abs are the ultimate goal for many and they end up doing hundreds of crunches daily to lose that belly fat. Any strength training exercise aims at training the respective muscles in that body part; fat loss is the by-product of a good training regime. Your main goal should be to strengthen the core and para spinal muscles for good strength and stability. Along with crunches, you can do many other exercises like plank, trunk twist, etc.
- Stretching should be done before workout:
Stretching is an integral part of workout routine. There are specific types of stretches that need to be done at a specific time of the workout. Dynamic stretches or ‘mobility drill’ needs to be done before the main set of exercise as a warm-up, to ensure improved elasticity in muscles and joint mobility. On the other hand, static passive stretches should be done after the workout to ensure that the contracted muscles are relaxed and there is improved flexibility in muscles.
- One size fits all:
People usually say ‘this is the best exercise plan to lose weight soon’ or ‘this is the best exercise to work the glutes, or ‘my friend followed this exercise plan and got results, hence I am doing it’ etc. In reality, there is no ‘best exercise’ or it is not necessary that what suited someone would suit you too. The body type of an individual and lifestyle/health parameters are considered while planning an exercise regime. Also, the body tends to get used to a particular workout after a certain duration and goes into a stagnant mode. To break the plateau, we need to progress on the intensity of the workout by bringing about changes in the sets, reps, and forms of exercises.