JDP Top Trainer Matt debunks the top 7 Fitness myths you have probably overheard in your local gym.
Can you crunch your way to a six-pack? Do you really need to spend all that time on the treadmill to lose weight? Probably not, so it’s time you stopped believing these all-too-common falsehoods circulating around your gym.
You’re a well-informed workout buff, so when science suggests that one of your trusty training rules might actually be ineffective, it can send your head spinning. We know: We read fitness science all the time, and that steady churn of “study says” stories have stirred up plenty of controversy in gyms and training studios around the world.
But don’t worry, I’m here to set you straight. I’ve cleared up seven of the top fitness myths circulating your gym, so you never feel compelled to buy into these oft-repeated-but-never-true bits of “wisdom” you need to stop believing now.
Myth 1: You can crunch your way to great abs
Fact: You’ve probably been doing crunches since “gym” since you first started working out, but they’re an ineffective way to get a true six-pack. Instead, my advice for toned abs comes from a combination of interval training, effective nutrition, getting adequate sleep, keeping your stress levels low, and of course, selecting the right training moves. If you look at big bodybuilders with block abs, they’re not getting those from crunches. They’re getting them from squats, deadlifts, and other compound moves.
Myth 2: Cardio comes first
Fact: Stand at the door of your gym and watch the next 10 people walk in. You’ll likely be observing a traffic jam at the treadmills. Yet the most effective way to organise your workout is to strength train first and hit cardio second. Running or doing other cardio first will reduce glycogen levels, which can prevent you from training as hard as you need to. On the other hand, weight training first will increase levels of testosterone and cortisol, both of which are beneficial to your workout.
Myth 3: Don’t squat past your toes
Fact: The No. 1 fitness myth that I come across with my clients is that they shouldn’t squat below 90 degrees. My clients quickly learn that squatting with knees over toes is a healthy, biomechanically safe move to do. In fact, we do it every day. Squatting knees over the toes, butt to the floor, hamstrings covering calves, chest up is the most effective way to squat. Look at someone picking up something they’ve dropped off the ground—it’s a natural movement.
Myth 4: You need electrolytes after every workout
Fact: While sports drink commercials will work overtime to prove otherwise, good ‘ol water can get you through many workouts. Electrolyte-pumped sports drinks are really only necessary for gym sessions or intense cardio workouts that last an hour or more. Extra sugar in sports drinks can impede the fat-burning process, so they should be reserved for those times when they’re truly necessary.
Myth 5: Static stretching is sacred
Fact: While it’s often repeated that static stretching is a must before workouts or athletic events, recent studies have proven that’s a myth. In fact, static stretching done pre-workout can reduce performance and power. So what’s the solution? While static stretching should still be a part of your post-workout routine, dynamic stretching should be your focus at the start of a workout.
Myth 6: If you’re not sweating, you’re not working hard
Fact: In reality, it depends on the focus of your workout. An Olympic lifter training for pure strength will incorporate several minutes of recovery between lifts in order to let his nervous system recover for peak performance. He may not be sweating, but he sure as hell is working hard. Before you start fretting about your sweating, zero in on whether endurance or strength is the focus of your training.
Myth 7: You can run off the pounds
Fact: People are hung up on the idea of cardio. Yet when it comes to shedding inches, focused weight training is a more effective way to drop pounds than banking hours on the treadmill. Interval and weight training is a better way to reduce fat. Of course, keep in mind that while you can burn away calories, no amount of time at the gym can compensate for an out-of-control diet.