Exercise Myths and Misconceptions
4 Biggest Exercise Myths
We always hear statements such as ‘squats are bad for your knees’ or ‘I train hard so I can eat what I want’. Word of mouth has passed this around and it has been made believable. In this article, we are going to talk about exercise myths and misconceptions and debunk the 4 biggest exercise myths.
THE VIDEO: Exercise Myths and Misconceptions – 4 Biggest Gym Myths
Exercise Myth 1- Lifting weights will make you bulky
This one is quite a common misconception particularly, in women. The idea behind it is that lifting a weight to perform an exercise will result in increased muscle mass and will look unappealing as a result. This quite simply is not the case. Training or exercising is solely specific to the goals that are looking to be achieved. Those that we notice have ‘big’ muscles have a few things that must be met in order to achieve those goals such as a calorie surplus, sufficient overloading of the system, enough volume lifted in that area and most importantly time and consistency spent within these parameters to see this change. As said previously, training is specific to the goals. Take a high jumper for example. They are going to need to be pretty explosive in order to jump competitive heights. This will involve them training their technique on their jumps but also, their efficiency in running and jumping, meaning good plyometric work and good strength training to ensure the tissues have the capacity to produce force and produce it fast. This would entail squatting, deadlifting etc. Now, physically they are not massive people, as it is counterproductive, so lifting will not make us bulky. If we train the full body with manageable load, we’ll see good technical and physical progressions and not Arnie staring back at us in the mirror.
Exercise Myth 2- If I am not sweating/If I am not sore, I did not work hard enough
When we go to the gym, we want to feel accomplished. For some, this may be perceived as lying on the gym floor in a pool of sweat or adding 5kg to our back squat every week otherwise, where is the accomplishment? This is a fantastic mentality to have as it shows commitment and intent towards something. However, this energy is misplaced. Firstly, progression is not linear, linear progression will result in a plateau at one point. When this happens, it can often cause demotivation to train as improvement has stagnated. We need to be smart with our programming in regards to what we lift and the consistency in which we lift it. Secondly, we don’t want to burn out. If every session is 100% intensity then, at some point our body is going to suffer, being in a state of fatigue and then going 100% again will just worsen the situation. The mentality that needs to be incorporated is the 100% effort mentality, treating every rep, every exercise (whether you have lifted more than this before or not) with 100% effort and focus. There are exercises out there that are technically challenging and even before the technical foundation has been laid we are adding load to this. As a result of this mentality we can expect to see immunosuppression increasing our susceptibility to infections, plateaus in performance resulting in demotivation, and increased injury risks. Quite simply, rest is the place where we see most of our physical and cognitive improvements. Therefore, we should take a step back, think about the programming, exercise selection, listen to our body and put this workhorse mentality to better use.
Exercise Myth 3- Static stretching around the gym
Quite often in gyms we will see people grab their foot and pull it to their bum to stretch the quads and hip flexor or touch the toes to stretch the hamstrings. This often comes with a lack of understanding around warmups for exercise. So straight away we want you to go and research the RAMP protocol. This is a method used to warm up adequately for exercise. RAMP is where we Raise the heart rate, Activate the muscles (get them switched on for the session), Mobilise the joints (get our joints working in the right way to be able to move efficiently, and Potentiate (piece the puzzle together, get everything ready for the session at hand). This is a method that can be done in many ways to keep the enjoyment of warming up and does not have to take long. The issue compared with static stretching is as follows; static stretching is designed to lengthen a muscle, looking to increase the range of motion. This is therefore, looking to reduce the amount of tension that is created and actually reduces the force output of the muscles. If we perform this type of stretch and then exercise with load, we have less force production which will hinder us but also, have temporarily lengthened our muscles where we will now be applying force through thus, increasing our injury risk. Mostly static stretching should be done on days where we are not training.
The above is not meant to dig on static stretching as it can be useful to improve flexibility so it should not always be completely ruled out from a warmup. A specific example where it can be used is as follows. If you have a client who has very limited ankle range which causes technical breakdown in a squat, we may do some static ankle stretches to improve this range of motion, if this is going to improve the technical quality of the squat pattern. Similarly the client will not be lifting heavy due to the poor technique so static stretching can be a fantastic tool here to get what we want out of it.
Exercise Myth 4- I want to lose fat from a specific body area
Sit ups do not get rid of body fat everyone! Exercising a specific muscle does not cause the fat in that area to be used as fuel. This form of spot fat reducing is a myth, there is no exercise, pill or diet that will give you this. The only thing that will help reduce body fat percentage is a well-balanced diet where we consume fewer calories than we expend and consistently exercise. Now, the latter is obviously going to be harder, but at least it will actually work! It will take time for this change to take effect as your body fat across the whole body will gradually start to reduce but at least it will be sustainable.
Lifting weights will not make us bulky as long as the goal is not to get bulky. If we train specific to what we want to improve, we will see progress towards that goal and having massive arms will not be part of that. Be smart with training everyone, don’t over train, rest days are important and not every session can be 100% intensity all the time, 100% effort is what’s required. Rethink the warm-up, static stretching is not the only option, learn RAMP, only use static stretching on days where we don’t train or where they will truly benefit us. Last but not least, we can’t expect to lose bingo wings from doing tricep dips. Train smart, train consistently and have a good diet. This is what will help most of all.