Are you surprised by some of these myths?
Fitness is a hot topic, as it should be! But with all the advice and information coming at us from all directions, are we being served the correct information? We’re busting the myth on 5 common fitness misconceptions that could actually cause damage to your body, and compromise your ability to commit to a healthy and happy fitness routine.
2021 is the time to zero in on the right workout approaches for safety, enjoyment and awesome results – whether you’re at the gym, or exercising at home.
Myth #1 – You’ve had a great workout if you’re really sore afterwards
We’ve all heard this before…”I had the best workout yesterday, I’m so sore I can barely walk!” The truth is there is no linear relationship between the quality of a workout and muscle soreness. It simply means you have damaged your muscles. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so don’t panic; but it doesn’t indicate that your workout was any more effective than if you didn’t feel so much pain after training.
How could that be?
Muscle soreness after exercise is known as DOM’s (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Typically the dreaded DOM’s will appear 24-48hrs after a workout and disappear within 3-5 days. This is normal; but there are several possible causes, some that could actually delay you from reaching your goals:
- New movements outside of your usual exercise routine
- Changed variables like weight, volume or intensity
- Changing workout elements too often and confusing your muscles
- Skimping on recovery aspects such as nutrition, sleep and hydration
- Working out too frequently which could lead to chronic fatigue and injury
So what should we do?
If you’re so sore that you can’t exercise for three days, or it’s hindering your everyday life activities, it would be beneficial to dig deeper into the DOM’s dilemma.
If you’re recovering well after a couple of days it’s likely your workout was just fine! If you’re hardly sore at all…your workout was probably just fine!
Here’s a bit more on the science and a few tips on how to avoid, and recover from delayed onset muscle soreness.
Myth #2 -The longer you workout the better the results
Crack the bubbly! (mineral water of course) This is great news for everyone! One of the top reasons for ditching our exercise plans is being time poor. If we feel like every workout needs to be an epic quest in order for us to see results, it’s harder for us to fit a consistent schedule into our busy lives.
The truth is that effective fitness is about quality not quantity (winning!). With a bit of know-how you can pack the right movements into a 10-20min workout and see similar or even BETTER results than an hour or more long cardio session. Particularly for busy people getting back into fitness, we need to enjoy the process – and stick with it!
Ask your PT or local gym about short, tough HIIT workouts, and which high intensity activities would be beneficial for your fitness level. The other good news is you don’t necessarily need to hit the gym for a heart-starting HIIT. There are plenty of effective exercises that require only yourself and a little room to move.
We recommend committing to longer cardio or weight sessions only when you’re sure you’ll have the time. Shorter HIIT bursts can be your go-to when you find yourself with a precious 10-20mins to spare.
There’s no excuses when a quick workout is a good workout!
Myth #3 -Your scales reveal how effective your workouts are
It happens to all of us. We hit the gym like it’s our religion, take all the professional advice we can soak up, dedicate ourselves to becoming the fitter, healthier version of ourselves that we KNOW we can be…We cautiously approach our nemesis – the scales – with great confidence…THIS time i’ll see the weight loss. Nope. What gives??
Never fear, scales are not the best indicator of how effective your workouts are, or even of the strength of your “weight loss” journey (we prefer to call it “fitness” journey). They simply give us a measurement of weight. Scales don’t indicate our improved condition or fitness. They certainly don’t tell us if we’re looking or feeling better – which is the ultimate goal right?
Michelle Segar, an expert in sustainable behaviour change, highlights that scales are a poor motivator and rarely inspire long term change.
So what to do?
Firstly, ladies, it’s well documented that men “drop weight” from exercise at a greater speed than women, so let’s not compare ourselves to that.
Aside from the scales, there are many other ways you can see the progress of your fitness journey (if you remember to look for them)
- Are you sleeping better?
- Do you have more energy throughout the day?
- Is it easier to stay focused at work?
- Have you found a fitness activity you enjoy?
- Do you have increased stamina?
- Are you enjoying doing things that you couldn’t do before?
- Do you find it easier to make good food choices or are craving less sugary treats?
- Has your general sense of feel good and well being improved?
But if you’re still concerned about the weight issue, another thing to consider is that there are times where your weight may not be decreasing, but you are getting leaner with more muscle and less fat. While this may not show on a scale, using a measuring tape or finding your clothes fit better (perhaps you’ve even dropped a dress size), are also benefits from a sustained fitness journey.
As you celebrate all of your other wins along the way, that silly number on the scales becomes much less of a burden.
Myth #4 -You can reduce fat in specific areas
The practice of targeted weight loss or “spot reduction” is controversial in its effectiveness. We all have those niggly areas. If you’ve been concentrating on losing belly fat, toning your thighs or shrinking the backside we apologise for busting this myth; but there’s little evidence to support spot reduction exercise.
Here’s how the body burns fat:
- Stored fats in our cells that can burn energy are triglycerides
- Triglycerides must be broken down into glycerol and free fatty acids before they can be burned
- Free fatty acids and glycerol is then able to enter the bloodstream
- When we exercise, the fatty acids and glycerol that we burn can come from ANYWHERE in the body
Bummer…so what to do?
Don’t fret! You’re still burning fat right? We can still choose where we’d like to look more toned and defined, and target those areas by working the underlying muscles. In short….ton’s of crunches alone aren’t going to melt belly fat. Also, fad diets and magic pills are likely to fail in the long term.
The combination of cardio, whole body workouts, targeted muscle toning and a healthy nutritious diet is the key. With this recipe we feel better, stronger and fitter overall.
Myth #5 -You should always stretch before exercising
To stretch or not to stretch before exercise is an argument that has stood the stretch of time. The common understanding is that stretching is vitally important before exercise to warm up the muscles and prevent injury. What many people don’t realise is that there are several types of stretching. Static, dynamic, passive and active. The most common are the classic static stretches – touching your toes, the quadricep balance, the shoulder stretch and side reach – sound familiar?
In recent years comprehensive studies have found that static stretching before a workout could actually DECREASE your strength and performance. Because your muscles are not yet warmed up, static stretching while cold will do little to prevent injury.
So what SHOULD we do?
Our experts recommend an active cardio warmup before working out to get the heart pumping and muscles warm. Think skipping rope, or a quick burst on the exercise bike. Dynamic stretches should be included in our active warm up to improve range of movement, and flexibility. A personal trainer can help you determine the most effective movements based on the exercises you’re about to perform.
Not all is lost for our much-loved static stretches. Research suggests static stretching is beneficial post-workout to help deliver nutrients and oxygen to tired and affected muscles. This improves blood flow, helps your muscles recover faster, and also has a relaxing/calming effect on your body as you warm down.
The best workout recipe for your health
As you continue, or even begin your journey, the most important ingredient in successful fitness and health, is choosing the right exercises for you. We are all different shapes, sizes, ages and fitness levels. All these factors contribute to what works best for us.
Your mission is to find what you most enjoy doing. Finding your fav fitness styles and activities is all part of your fitness journey. These are activities that you will happily continue with, increasing your stamina and honing your skills. Try new things absolutely! But remember exercise is not supposed to be a drag.
Inviting the right people to your corner, who support you with tailored advice is probably one of the most important discoveries you’ll have along the way. Perhaps your next step is to contact an ifeelgood PT and discuss suitable options.
From the ifeelgood family to yours, all the best for a fit, fun and fulfilling year (or lifetime) ahead.