Top Five Fitness Myths And Why They Don’t Help
Popular but deceptive workout hacks may be delaying your goals, even if you exercise every day. Check out the list to see what you may have been doing wrong.
If the last year has taught us anything, it has pushed many of us to become creative with limited resources. With gyms out of reach and our routines interrupted, people have resorted to staying active at home in whatever ways possible. Be it running, a quick home workout or yoga, it is necessary that you dodge ‘viral hacks’ that could be coming in the way of your fitness journey.
Since we all process food and activity differently, you must not track your fitness solely by the weighing scale. Following a safe and sustainable routine will keep you from any unwanted injuries and health risks. Steer clear of these common fitness myths that could be derailing your progress.
Decoding 5 Common Fitness Myths
1. If you don’t exercise constantly, your muscle turns into fat
It is scientifically impossible to turn fat into muscle or vice versa, because they are made of completely different things. While muscle is made up of protein, amino acids, water etc, body fat is composed of adipose tissue.
“With a sustainable workout plan and good nutrition, muscle builds up while fat decreases”, explains Vinod Channa, Mumbai-based celebrity fitness trainer and owner of VC Fitness. When you are inactive and don’t eat well, the opposite happens. However, even during a sedentary lifestyle or a protein-deficiency, muscle and fat tissues are not interchangeable.
2. The more you sweat, the more effective your workout is
While it is true that we do lose some weight with perspiration, it is pretty much just water and salt, which can be replenished later in the day. In reality, people who try to induce more sweating by exercising in hotter environments, wearing sauna-belts etc. are simply losing water weight.
It is dangerous, therefore, to force yourself to sweat, as it can lead to dehydration and sodium-deficiency. Sweating also varies person to person, based on their age, health and fitness level. Therefore, it is an unreliable marker of weight loss.
3. Weightlifting makes women bulky
Women have long been pressured to live up to patriarchal standards of appearance and many have developed an inhibition about strength training. It is important to preface this by saying that neither a ‘feminine’ nor a ‘masculine’ appearance is unattractive.
This is an issue that Channa still comes across with his clients. He explains, “The female hormone estrogen, as opposed to the muscle-building male hormone testosterone, is prone to store more fat.” That’s why, even after years of strict diet and training, women cannot build muscle the same as their male counterparts, despite lifting heavier weights than them.
Weight lifting is highly recommended for people regardless of their sex. Combined with a well-rounded diet, it will make you stronger as well as improve your cardiovascular and digestive health. For women, especially, strength training is indispensable as it prevents bone loss.
4. You can choose exactly where to lose weight
The idea of spot reduction or targeted fat loss is that you can focus on a certain area of your body and tone that area only. In reality, however, your body gains as well as loses weight, muscle and fat as a whole. Whether you store fat proportionately or not depends on your genetics and lifestyle and is highly subjective.
Channa sees a lot of misinformation being spread on different apps on this topic. For most people, the abdomen seems to be the biggest problem area. He suggests, “If you want to burn 1000 calories, exercise bigger muscle groups twice a week. You don’t burn a lot of calories with only abdominal exercises, so do them after your main workout.”
5. You shouldn’t eat before working out
Over the last few decades, many professionals and non-professionals have promoted exercising on an empty stomach to burn more fat. While our body transforms glucose molecules from our food into energy, our blood sugar levels are comparatively low when we haven’t eaten for a while. Thus, many people hope that exercising in a fasted state will encourage our bodies to utilise fat cells for energy instead.
In a 2014 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, Brad Schoenfield et al randomly assigned twenty young females to an overnight fasted training group and a group that trained after consuming a meal. Though both groups showed weight and fat loss from baseline, “no significant between-group differences were noted in any outcome measure,” they concluded.
Not only can training on an empty stomach affect your performance, it can also hinder muscle growth due to undernutrition and make you feel dizzy. It’s okay to grab a light meal or a snack before your routine as per your daily nutritional needs, rather than trusting unscientific diet fads.