We’ve all fallen for a few exercise myths at some time or other. Many have been around for decades, since Arthur Lydiard first invented jogging in the early 60’s (see myth #3).
Here’s a collection of the 10 fitness myths I have come across the most in my 12 years as a personal trainer and dietitian. It is by no means an exhaustive list but I believe it covers the most popular.
I need to do hundreds of crunches or sit ups to get a six pack.
Both crunches and sit ups are now known to cause bad backs as well as creating ‘aerobic abs’ because they only work the rectus abdominus muscles. You need to follow a six pack program that works your entire core group of muscles if you want a great looking six pack.
I need to spend at least an hour a day exercising to burn off fat.
One of the longest running exercise myths and totally wrong. The more intense your workout, the less time you need to be doing it. A 10 minute run will work your heart and burn a lot more calories than a 10 minute walk which means the walker has to exercise for longer to achieve the same results as the runner. Either option works fine though and even a stroll for the paper is 100% times better for you than sitting in front of the TV doing nothing.
Jogging was invented by Jim Fixx.
While Jim introduced jogging to many Americans in 1977 with his best seller ‘The Complete Book of Running’ it was New Zealander Arthur Lydiard who actually invented jogging as a means to getting fit. Lydiard even invented the word when he formed a club called The Auckland Joggers in 1962. It was for people who had suffered a heart attack and wanted to get back into shape. Remembered throughout the athletics world as a forward thinker, his idea of jogging to fitness went against medical advice of the time.
I need to be able to complete 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps to build muscle.
Professional bodybuilders set the weights up so they fail the third set rather than complete it. Ideally you want to be able to manage 6 to 10 reps in the third set. Doing it to failure ensures muscle tissue damage and so guarantees muscle growth.
Exercising will turn my fat into muscle.
The body tissue that forms muscle is made up of completely different cells to the ones that form fat and as such you cannot convert one into the other although you can replace fat with muscle with a good diet and exercise program.
All training supplements are the same
This is one of those gym myths that do the rounds when someone finds some protein powder online at a bargain price and spreads the word. Always read the small print carefully, especially on protein powders as most (even the well known expensive brands) use whey concentrate which is harder to digest so you actually only get around 65% of it into your body. Whey isolate is what you want as your body can absorb up to 98% of it meaning in the long run it works out better value for money than the cheap training supplements.
I’m obese so exercise is pointless for me
Again, science has proven this long running myth to be totally wrong. Latest studies show just 15 minutes of exercise per day extends a persons life on average by 3 years regardless of weight, health, sex, previous medical conditions and even the amount they smoke and drink. There are plenty of exercise programs for obese people so saying its pointless is no longer an excuse to not lose weight and get fit.
I need to join a gym if I’m serious about getting fit.
If you are trying to build muscle then free weights are the way to go and these can be purchased cheap nowadays second hand. As long as you have some room in your garage or basement for a bench and the weights you are good to go. For a cardio workout, outdoor training is in my opinion the number 1 option if your climate allows.
Exercise is the only way to lose weight
Whether exercising to lose weight or to get ripped, you will need to incorporate a diet plan into your program. Diet and exercise is the way to go.
Ab exercises will shift my beer belly
Probably the biggest and widely believed of all the exercise myths is that you can spot target fat. When you create an energy deficit (eat less fuel than you need) by exercising, your body takes what it needs from its stored supply of fats but there is no pattern to where it takes it from. Working your neck and face will not mean you lose your double chin, doing gorilla chin ups will not mean it takes it from your stomach.
Hope the above helped clear up a few myths for you. If so, please help spread the word by clicking on one or more of the social buttons below, thanks in advance.