The fitness industry is a booming industry that has many moving parts. Many of these parts revolve around the promotion of weight loss or unrealistic improvements without genuine support for health benefits. These old and new revolving parts can cause myths to arise in support of extreme weight loss, short cuts or using supplements. It's important to understand the facts behind exercise and how it affects your body!
Five common myths are:
Myth #1 - Targeting Fat Burn
Fact: While working out can (and does) reduce your overall body fat, you can’t control where the fat is lost on your body. Targeting fat or “spot reduction” suggests that the fat you burn comes from around the muscles you are using. Ultimately, fat loss cannot be targeted and achieved by a specific muscle group but is an effort made by your whole body. For example, 100 crunches a day will not make your abdominal muscles more visible until you reduce your overall body fat. Although calorie intake versus expenditure is important, that doesn’t mean losing weight should just be about diet. Fat loss should be a combination of cardiovascular exercise, weight training and proper nutrition.
Myth #2 - "No Pain, No Gain”
Fact: While discomfort is inevitable during most workouts and you should try to push yourself, you should not feel pain during or after a workout. Some muscle soreness is unavoidable, especially if it is a new exercise, but you should not feel any extreme pain. If you are having persistent pain, especially during exercising, it can be a sign of injury and you should stop and consult a professional. Just remember, pain and soreness are not the same.
Myth #3 - Lactic Acid Causes Soreness
Fact: While “no pain, no gain” theory is a myth, soreness after exercise can be normal. However, this soreness you get a day or two after working out is not a result of lactic acid build-up in the muscles. Rather, it is a case of delayed-onset muscle soreness or DOMS. Lactic acid is not the sole reason for soreness but can cause some discomfort. However, lactic acid that is produced during exercise is cleared shortly after your workout and before the onset of soreness.
The soreness or DOMS is actually caused by microscopic tears in muscle that occur as you exercise (especially when you first start working out). While this sounds scary and painful, as your body repairs the tiny muscle tears it's actually building healthy, new muscle tissue. In order to reduce the effect of DOMS on your muscles, start a new exercise program slowly and build it up over time.
Myth #4 - Lifting Weights Makes Us "Bulky"
Fact: Lifting heavy weights doesn’t mean you will turn into 'The Hulk'. Some people (more commonly women) worry that lifting heavy weights will result in extreme muscle gain and bulkiness but won’t burn calories like cardio does. However, lifting weights can actually help you lose weight. Lifting a more challenging weight for fewer reps (8 repetitions) burn more calories than lifting a lighter weight for more reps (20 repetitions). Also, the increase in muscle mass results in burning more calories!
Myth #5 - Always Replenish with Sports Drinks
Fact: While this myth does merit some truth, the lines can be blurry. Sports drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade, are important after and during high intensity or long lasting exercise such as a triathlon. Sports drinks provide glucose or sugar that is needed to replace what is lost during high intensity exercise. However, this is not the case during moderate intensity, lower intensity or shorter duration workouts such as walking or yoga. If you are exercising with the goal to lose weight, the extra added sugars and calories in these drinks will not help. Water will replenish you just fine!