Nowadays, greater numbers of people are taking up exercise routines and going to the gym. Many go to keep healthy, others go to improve their physique and some to improve their athletic performance.
With all the hype created and sustained by modern cultural pressures about looking your best, it is too easy to get sucked in. Seeing all those people with attractive beach bodies beckon us to sweat it out in the gym.
But be warned, hitting the gym purely for aesthetic reasons may pose some health risks.
Re-evaluate, ask yourself why you are working out in the first place. If it is to feel and look and healthier, then you don’t want to end up worse off in either of those departments!
And these are real dangers. Dangers that occur by following bogus fitness myths. And this could deprive you of the health benefits of going to the gym.
If we debunk the most common fitness myths, it will set you on the path to reaching your fitness goals.
1. There Is No Such Thing As ‘Spot Reduction’
Our bodies genetically predisposed to store more fat in certain areas. For some, fat clings around the midsection and tummy area. This gives us “love handles”. For others, it’s the bum and legs or even shoulders and arms.
These areas of stubborn body fat are precisely that. These areas are the first places to gain it and the last to lose it.
We want to believe that we can target fat loss. Who doesn’t want to shift that muffin top or shape a wobbly arm? And we have been fooled into thinking we can target fat loss.The truth is, there are no pills, exercises or devices that can override your body’s genetics. Click To Tweet
The sensible and sustainable approach is to focus on reducing your overall body fat through a healthy weight loss diet and full-body exercise routines.
The key is patience. The afflicted areas that you are keen to change are often the last to leave.
2. No One Crunches Their Way to a 6-Pack
Aside from the fact that the abdominal crunch is one of the most incorrectly performed exercises performed, doing hundreds of them is not going to reveal a great 6-pack suddenly!
Earlier I said this exercise is often performed incorrectly. So you are more likely get spine and neck problems than a washboard stomach.
And this exercise is never going to burn the fat around your stomach. Unless you are already blessed with a flat stomach, the first step is to reduce your overall body fat.
When you are ready to build a strong core, use static hold exercises such as planks and bridges. The work well because they engage a more substantial portion of your core and these muscles train more naturally through stabilisation.
When you train combine a good core routine with the fat burning qualities of a reputable full-body workout routine, you can build that glorious 6-pack and improve your posture without any injury to yourself!
3. Don’t Focus Solely On Getting Big
For those thinking they have a small chest, focusing primarily on exercises to promote chest definition may seem like a good idea. Let’s face it, a large well-developed chest will improve your physique.
The downside is that single-minded focus will soon lead to a muscle imbalance.
Without compensating for all that chest work with back exercises, you could end up with rounded shoulders. Worse yet, you could get chest pains and even breathing problems. So looking too far out of proportion is the least of your worries.
Alternatively, focus on developing a well-balanced physique. Training purely for muscle mass can be a recipe for disaster. Mix up your strength training with cardio to build your endurance and stamina too.
4. Lifting Weights Doesn’t Nessarilarly Build Bulky Muscles
Many gym goers who avoid weight training believe that if they lift weights, they will build big muscles. They cling to this misconception as they spend 40 minutes on their favourite cardio machines.
And this misconception is surprisingly common, especially amongst female gym goers. The truth is, lifting weights, even heavy weights, does not cause explosive muscle growth. Not for men and definitely not for women.
To develop large muscles requires a caloric surplus diet to support muscle growth coupled with a consistent progression in weight. I know many men who struggle to achieve this balance even when they are trying to ‘get big’.
Biologically, it is even more difficult for women to build bulky muscles. Women have far lower levels of the muscle-building hormone than their male counterparts. So adding muscle mass will be a challenge.
It is fair to say that ladies can lift weights without the fear of turning into the She-Hulk anytime soon!
5. You Can Get Gains Without The Proportional Pains
Pushing your limits over time is the key to making progress in the gym. It isn’t easy, you are going to sweat. It is going to be tough, you are going to feel uncomfortably sore at times. But, you should never feel pain during an exercise.
Consider that pain is an indicator of an injury. So pushing through pain is going to make any injury worse. Muscle soreness post workout, abbreviated DOMS for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, may come and go. Especially if you’re new to exercise. But it would be foolish to assume your workout is worthless without DOMS.
A good aim is to work harder and push further week-by-week. Doing so safely and progressively. When you experience pain during an exercise, it is a signal telling you to back off and let yourself recover.
I would rather be able to continue to train with a limited set of exercises than let an injury take me out of the game altogether.
6. More Time In The Gym Is Always Better
Your body has a finite capacity for recovery and growth, and this tends to decline as we get into maturedom. Pushing too far beyond your boundaries will only increase your recovery time and may limit your progress.
This is not an excuse not to train hard. You need to workout to a level that strains your muscles, and then allow them enough time to recover to grow stronger.
It is in the recovery process that your muscles repair and grow stronger.
Rather than spending several hours in the gym, focus on spending 45 to 60 minutes in a gym session, but make it intense. That means you train with a plan and hit your workout with intensity.
Unless you are a competitive athlete, you are not using your time effectively, or you are training too hard.
Considering frequency, 3 to 5 gym sessions per week with time between for recovery is ideal for most people. Unless you’re an advanced lifter who is using specialist routines, it’s not wise to hit the gym more than 5 times per week!