POPSUGAR FitnessSource: 13 Myths That May Be Messing With Your Workout
There's lots to learn about being healthy and staying fit, and there's lots to unlearn as well. If you believe any of these common fitness myths, they just might be hurting your workout. Read on to set yourself straight!
- Walking a Mile Burns the Same as Running a Mile: If you're not a runner, walking may seem to be the next best thing. And while walking can achieve many fitness goals, it'll take you much longer to accomplish if you never ramp up your walking workout to a run. In fact, running requires 40 percent more energy than walking, which translates to major calorie burn.
- Muscle Weighs More Than Fat: A pound of muscle weights exactly the same as a pound of fat. But since muscles are dense and compact, it may seem that by having more in your body you are becoming heavier. In fact, you may gain weight when you start working out once you start putting on more muscle, but you'll probably notice that your clothes fit better and you feel slimmer, since muscle takes up less space than fat in your body.
- Morning Workouts Burn More Fat: Studies have shown that morning workouts don't increase your metabolism any more than workouts at other times. Other studies have, however, found that people who worked out in the morning tended to have more energy and could therefore workout longer, but it's all about choosing which time of day works best for you.
- You Exercise, So You Can Eat Whatever You Want: "Of course, I can't eat everything I want and think I'm going to lose weight," you say, but do you really believe that? Many people reward themselves after a sweaty workout with a indulgence that is twice the calories they just burned, or they overestimate just how many calories that elliptical session actually burned. If you are trying to lose weight, keep a careful watch on the calories and nutrition of the foods you eat, and wear a heart rate monitor or fitness tracker to better gauge how many calories you're actually burning.
- Stretching Before a Workout Helps: Whether it's indoctrinated in you from years of high school sports or just part of your routine, many people think that cold stretching before a workout helps them perform better. In fact, stretching before exercising has been shown to be a waste of time and detrimental before certain workouts, like lifting weights. Instead, save the hamstring stretches for after your workout, and warm up muscles before a workout with a few minutes of low-intensity cardio or one of these dynamic stretches.
- Crunches Will Give You a Six-Pack: Spot-toning moves are useful for providing more definition to your muscles, but if they are hidden under a layer of fat, no one will be able to tell. If you're trying to get rid of belly fat to uncover toned abs, your diet is important. Stick to healthy, fresh foods (like these foods that banish belly fat) and add high-intensity interval training to your workouts to further melt away belly fat.
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- You Should Stay in the Fat-Burning Zone: Wouldn't it be nice if all we had to do was walk away the pounds? The fat-burning zone you see on cardio machines refers to lower-intensity, lower-heart-rate zone exercises that burn more fat calories than carbs. In reality, however, the type of calories burned matters less than the overall amount of calories you are burning: if you want to lose weight, higher-intensity cardio exercises will do that more efficiently, so it's better to up the intensity and go for the overall burn.
- Soreness Comes From Lactic Acid Buildup: Many people believe that the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) they experience days after a workout is a symptom of lactic acid in their body, and many people focus on getting rid of that acid. In fact, DOMS is the result of tiny tears in your muscles that are rebuilding and repairing, which is a good thing: it tells you that your muscles are growing and getting stronger.
- If You Stop Exercising, Muscle Turns Into Fat: Anything from an illness to an indulgent vacation can be a setback to any well-oiled workout routine. But if you've scared that those bulging muscles will dissolve into fat as soon as you stop working out, don't be. You may gain fat and lose muscle when you start working out, especially because having fewer muscles slows down your metabolism, but your body won't be converting one to the other.
- You Shouldn't Exercise With Sore Muscles: That crazy circuit workout class your friend begged you to go to was a little too effective, and now you can barely get up the stairs. Before you think about skipping today's workout in order to avoid any possible injury or fatigue, think again. The right kind of exercise can not only make your sore muscles feel better but can also help you recover faster. Just make sure you aren't focusing too much on the affected area. If yesterday's workout included lower-body work, spend today focusing on your upper body, do a less-intense cardio session, or give weary muscles a good stretch in yoga class.
- Heavy Weights Make You Bulk Up: You may think that sticking to those three-pound dumbbells will create the sleek look you're going for, but in fact, you can get the results you want in half the time by increasing your weights. Save time by doing fewer reps with heavier weights - choose weights that fatigue your muscles within 90 seconds.
- Cardio Is the Best Way to Lose Weight: Many people think that to lose those extra pounds they just need to up their running mileage, but in reality, if you're not adding strength training to the mix, you're missing out. Strength training is an important part of any exercise routine: the more muscle mass you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate will be, which means your weight training routine will definitely be burning fat.
- You'll Burn More Fat Exercising on an Empty Stomach: Many people think that exercising on an empty stomach will help them more in their weight-loss goals than having a pre-workout snack, but in fact, studies have shown that the amount of calories burned in both cases is about the same, with one study showing that the calories you burn are actually those all-important muscles. And since you may not be able to work out as long on an empty stomach as you would with a small snack, go for workout success by eating something small before you work out.