Navigating the internet for accurate fitness information is more challenging today than ever. In the age of technology and fitness influencers, false information can be everywhere you turn. What is the best approach to get accurate fitness advice? Turn your attention to reliable, science-based sources. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) or the American Council on Exercise (ACE) are two great places to start. When in doubt from any information you heard, saw, or read, double-check the facts. Now let’s look at 3 common fitness myths and break each one down.
Myth #1: Spot training – targeting areas of the body for fat burn/weight loss while exercising.
A common misconception in fitness is the belief in spot training. When we exercise, whether that is weight training or cardio, we cannot specifically target where we “tone up” or “lose weight”. Weight loss can occur with exercise, but each individual will lose this weight differently. We cannot target or predict where weight loss will occur. While you can train specific muscle groups, this has to do with building muscle by targeting specific areas, and not with weight loss. More information on spot training: https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/3629/myths-and-misconceptions-spot-reduction-and-feeling-the-burn/
Myth #2: If you don’t get sore, you won’t get stronger.
Training to maximum effort can be beneficial, but it is not the only way you need to try to get stronger. The theory behind this myth is that muscle soreness is when small tears occur in the muscle fiber after training. When you get sore the next day, this is referred to as DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness). If you experience this after training, muscle repair and growth may very well be in action. However, changes can occur even without soreness the next day. This typically happens for one of two reasons. The first being that you trained at a lower level of effort and any muscular breakdown wasn’t severe enough to cause soreness. The second reason relates to your training status. If you are experienced or well-adapted to exercise, you may not get sore as often. As your body adapts to exercise, this is a benefit you may experience. At the end of the day, use an exercise routine that is best for your individual body and fitness goals. Just know that you don’t need soreness to get stronger. Read about DOMS: https://www.acsm.org/docs/default-source/files-for-resource-library/delayed-onset-muscle-soreness-(doms).pdf?sfvrsn=8f430e18_2
Myth #3: You should stretch before cardio.
While stretching before cardio was commonly practiced 5 years ago, recommendations have since changed. It was previously thought that stretching would make muscles more pliable (loosening up) and help prevent injury. This used to be common practice for many runners. However, newer research points to the opposite. Muscles should never be stretched “cold” or without warming-up. Static stretching on a cold muscle could even increase your chance of injury. In the case of runners, stretching before exercise could even decrease the muscle’s ability to absorb the shock of running. What should you do instead? Try using dynamic warm-ups before exercise. Dynamic stretching involves gentle movement and helps prime your body for its workout.
Try this total-body dynamic warm-up: https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/warm-up/