The internet is full of helpful information, but at the same time, there's a ton of bunk out there that people read and believe. For instance, when it comes to getting in shape and improving your health, I see many exercise myths. As much as I try, I simply cannot police the internet, and for that reason, I decided to come out with this list of exercise myths that we need to talk about so you aren't making mistakes that can cause your results to start pumping the brakes.
1. Doing Sit-Ups Will Give You a Chiseled Midsection
Doing sit-ups will definitely help you strengthen your core and build up the abdominals so that they can become more pronounced, but doing sit-ups won't necessarily help you achieve the appearance of a chiseled midsection.
This seems to come up quite often in conversations at the gym where someone is doing endless amounts of sit-ups and wonder why at 43% body fat, their abs aren't showing. The only way to get a stellar midsection is to reduce your body fat and eliminate the layers of fat surrounding your abdominals. We all have a six-pack, but unfortunately, most will never see it due to having too high of a body fat percentage.
2. Running on A Treadmill Is as Effective as Running Outdoors
As much as you'd like to believe it, this is one of those myths that people believe simply because they don't know any better. Gym-goers hop on the treadmill and run like a cheetah only to find their results aren't coming as quickly as they would have hoped.
When you run on a treadmill, the machine is ultimately controlling you. Sure, you're moving, but the tread below your feet is moving, and you don't have to apply as much force in order to move like you would propelling yourself on the street outdoors.
Also, while you can adjust the incline on a treadmill, the forces needed aren't the same as if you were running outside and the terrain changes and you hit some hills. Also, treadmills can't simulate going down a hill either, where different muscles are activated to prevent you from falling forward. If you're debating running indoors or outdoors, always choose outdoors.
3. Exercise Machines Are Safer Than Free Weights
This is one of the exercise myths that I see go both ways. Some say free weights are better than machines and others want to claim machines are better than free weights. Who's right? Both are correct.
Both free weights and machines serve their purpose and can activate muscle fibers and effectively break them down. Free weights allow for accessory muscles to come into play, while machines tend to be on a fixed plane and can do a great job of targeting the specific muscle you are trying to hit.
Which is safer? Both when done correctly. Many assume free weights put you in a more compromising position because you have more freedom of movement when completing a repetition. That is true, but when proper form is used, the risk is minimized. Then when you hop on a machine, due to the fixed plane, if your form is off, you can put your joints in a compromised position and injure them. No matter which method to prefer to use and implement into your resistance training routine, be safe, and maintain proper form when executing your sets.
4. The Best Time for You to Exercise Is…
I see all of these articles on the internet telling you when the best time of day is to exercise. It's hilarious to think that they believe your body has an internal clock, and once it hits a certain time, it tells your body to start burning fat, and any other time of day, you'd just be wasting your time. Don't believe exercise myths like this.
The best time for you to exercise is the time you can fit it into your schedule and be consistent. If that means getting up early to hit the gym, so be it. If you prefer to work out during your lunch break, great. Maybe after work is best? Fine. The bottom line is you need to find a time that works best for you. Don't allow people to guilt you into working out at a specific time of day.
5. If You Stop Exercising, Your Muscle Will Turn into Fat
Of all the exercise myths out there, this one could take the cake as the most absurd. If you stop exercising, your muscles don't turn into fat. Muscle is made up of protein, and fat is made up of lipids. Structurally, they are completely different. It's impossible for muscle to turn into fat.
That being said, if you stop exercising and your caloric intake remains the same, or it increases, you will certainly notice that your body is storing those excess calories as body fat. This can cause your musculature to appear soft and not as toned or defined. You also have to consider that when you exercise regularly, you're pumping your muscles with blood, which causes them to swell – giving off a larger appearance. When you don't exercise, not as much blood is pushed into the muscle, and therefore it doesn't look as "swole" as when you were hitting the iron.
6. Start Your Workouts with Cardio
Your muscles need energy. One such form of energy that they use is glycogen. If you were to start your workouts by hopping on a piece of cardio equipment, your body is going to demand energy. Where is that energy going to come from? The glycogen stores. Then, when you go to hit the weights, you essentially have nothing in the tank, and your strength will suffer.
Do your resistance training first, use up your glycogen stores, and then finish off your workout with cardio if you plan on doing both during your gym session. That way, when you go to hit your cardio, there won't be any glycogen to pull from, and your body can switch over to fat-burning to use up those body fat stores.
7. You Need to Join a Gym to Get the Best Results
While the gym is a great place to work out at due to the immense variety of equipment, that doesn't mean you need to pay for a gym membership just to get in a good workout or see any results.
Many people exercise at home by either building a home gym, getting just a few key pieces of equipment, or merely using their own body weight as resistance. You don't even need to spend a penny if you get a little creative and use household items as resistance. Then you have the great outdoors to use as your source of cardio, or if the weather isn't ideal, you can hit your stairs or do some jumping jacks, burpees, etc., in the privacy of your own home.
Don't believe everything you read on the internet. There are many exercise myths out there that can derail your progress and crush your motivation. It's time to set the record straight, and hopefully, this list helped you better understand what is real and what is bunk.