When it comes to fitness (the health and wellness field in general actually), there's a million different trains of thought regarding just about everything. While some of these things are personal preference to the individual trainer and trainee, many of them are just not right.
There are SO MANY fitness myths that this is only Part 1! If you're questioning whether you're doing something right, maybe you'll find your answer here! If not, stay tuned for more.
Fitness Myth 1:
Cardio is the best way to lose weight
Take a gander at why this one is first...Just about everyone who has ever started a weight loss journey begins by incorporating cardio. Whether it's hopping on the elliptical or going out for a run, this is always the first thing people think they need to do when wanting to change their body.
This is FALSE. Cardio is not the best way to lose weight, although it is one way to help it. Cardio is best when used as a tool in addition to a solid weight lifting routine and proper nutrition suited to your goals. Essentially, doing cardio helps you to burn extra calories which is why it is helpful to add on top of resistance training. Cardio should also be done in moderation for heart health!
Fitness Myth 2:
Light Weights and Lots of Reps
This one goes out to all the ladies that have been told to lift 3 pound dumbbells and do 25 reps of each exercise to "tone" the muscle.
In all fairness, the theory is partly true, however, not completely. When the main goal is fat loss, muscular endurance (12-15+ reps) and muscular hypertrophy (8-12 reps) reign when it comes to rep ranges. Muscular endurance builds endurance (think marathon as opposed to sprint), will lead to some minor increases in strength and little impact on size (meaning you won't get "bulky"). Muscular hypertrophy is an increase in muscle size. Both of these will help you to lose fat and look leaner, with more muscle definition.
As far as light weights goes, you want to lift weights that are challenging for the amount of reps you are doing but not impossible. If they're too light and you're just going through the motions, you won't be getting your heart rate up or challenging the muscle fibers enough to change.
Fitness Myth 3:
If I'm eating clean, I can a) eat more and b) lose more weight
When it comes to losing weight, quality matters for health however, it's quantity we really need to focus on. It doesn't matter if you eat 2000 calories of kale and organic chicken breasts: if you're eating more than you burn, you will gain weight.
The truth in here is that healthy foods allow for more volume with less calories, so you can technically eat a larger amount of food within your personal caloric goals.
Fitness Myth 4:
For a flat stomach, do tons of core work/You can target certain areas
Doing crunches, sit-ups and ab roll outs all day won't magically give you the 6-pack you've been looking for. When it comes to having a flat stomach or a defined 6-pack, what you need is lower body fat. Doing abdominal work and compound movements are great and will help to build your ab muscles and strengthen the core but won't necessarily burn all the body fat covering those abs.
In addition, you cannot spot reduce fat on your body! While you can put extra effort into certain areas that need work, fat is not lost solely from those spots.
Resistance training the whole body, proper nutrition and a lower body fat will help give you the flat stomach and toned look you're going for.
Fitness Myth 5:
Static stretching before exercise decreases risk of injury.
While stretching is good for you and can help prevent injury, we want to save the static stretching (think holding a stretch for 10-30 seconds) for after the workout. Static stretching relaxes your muscles too much and reduces blood flow. This is best done at the end, after your muscles are warmed, tired and need to be relaxed.
Before the workout, you should be doing dynamic and active stretches which get the blood flowing and the muscles working. Think fast toe touches, frankensteins, arm circles, kicks, or rotations that get you warmed up and opened up before performing your training session.
Aim for at least 5 minutes of a dynamic/active warm-up to get you ready for exercise.