By Dr. Michael Gibson
Thankfully, some of these myths are dying, but if you read, watch or listen to most popular magazines, TV shows or podcasts most of the information you are being fed is still just plain wrong.
Please know that I don’t think these industries are full of unethical liars who are out to hurt people. I don’t think they are misleading you purposefully. I do think they are sharing what they learned from others who came before them (I did the same thing for years!).
Unfortunately, they’ve never thought to question what they learned, and they too have dogmatically accepted the exercise myths that pervade our culture.
Alright, let’s see if we can wade through this mess.
MYTH #1 - You Need To Do Intense Exercise 7 Days A Week
Intense daily exercise will burn you out (not to mention that it's completely unsustainable).
In fact, over training has been shown to cause insomnia, depression, personality changes, suppressed immune system, loss of concentration, increased injuries, weight gain…and can halt your progress!!
Your body needs to rest in order to recover.
What’s even better is that you don’t need to do intense exercise every day to get the best results.
A few quality days each week will yield far better results than 7 mediocre days.
Identify your goals and create your programming accordingly…and be sure to schedule in some time for recovery.
MYTH #2 - Squatting Is Bad For Your Knees…And Worse, Squatting Below Parallel Will Cause Your Knees To Explode
The opposite couldn’t be more true.
The knee joint provides an average of 140 degrees of flexion…so why should it be limited to 90 degrees during a squat?
Have you ever watched young kids playing? They’ll sit for hours in a third world squat position, comfortable and as happy as can be. If squats were bad for your knees shouldn’t every child grow up to have chronic knee problems?
Squatting makes you stronger.
Squatting makes you faster.
Squatting makes you jump higher.
Squatting improves bone mineral density.
All of us should be able to squat until our butts hit our calves…many of us have just been out of practice for a really, really long time.
If you want to have healthy functional knees, well into old age, you must squat daily below parallel, until the back of your legs (hamstrings hit your calves).
Why? Because that’s the way they were designed!
MYTH #3 - Women That Lift Weights Start To Look A Lot Like Arnold Schwarzenegger
True, if the woman is on steroids.
Bulking up is about testosterone production, which means that most women don't have the genetic profile to add a lot of muscle.
MYTH #4 - No Pain, No Gain
If you’re not in pain, you’re not training hard enough..right?!? Wrong!
Yes, muscle soreness often proceeds an intense workout, especially if you're trying a new exercise or lifting a heavier weight (they’ve even got a fancy name for it - DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).
But there’s a big difference between DOMS and pain.
If you’re in serious pain, STOP.
If you’re hands are ripping apart, STOP.
If you’re toes are tingling…STOP!
Pain isn’t a healthy bi-product of proper training -- it means you're probably injuring yourself!
MYTH #5 - If You Don’t Stretch Before Exercising You’re Sure To Get injured
The latest evidence suggests that static stretching — slowly moving muscles until they just start to hurt and holding the stretch briefly — doesn’t prevent injuries, and actually impairs strength and speed in some athletes.
Some studies even suggest that stretching destabilizes muscles, making them less ‘prepared' for strenuous exercise.
Now, let's be clear...
Static stretching can help with flexibility and improved range of motion, they just shouldn’t be used to prime muscles for the workout to come.
Instead make sure to warm up with a good dynamic mobility program that reflects your workout. Don't have one and don't know where to start? Click HERE to download a free introductory dynamic mobility program.
MYTH #6 - Ab Workouts Will Help You Get Rid Of Belly Fat
You can do crunches till you pass out, and you still might not get that all elusive six-pack.
Why? If you have a high percentage of body fat, your abs will be covered with — you guessed it — fat.
A recent study at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville showed:
“There was no significant effect of abdominal exercises on body weight, body fat, android fat percentage, android fat, abdominal circumference, abdominal skin fold and supra iliac scaffold measurements."
All that to say you can’t spot-train…otherwise, wouldn't we all be running around with flat stomachs and slim thighs?
MYTH #7 - You Only Need To Exercise If You Want To Lose Weight
Will you lose weight by exercising?
Yes. (if you are training properly and eating right)
Is that’s its purpose? No...it’s just a side benefit of getting healthier and fulfilling one of your body’s most vital requirements.
Yes, that’s right daily movement and exercise are requirements for optimal health.
Take your brain for example...did you know that movement is one of the most important ‘nutrients’ that it needs? (and one of the main reasons exercise is the most beneficial ’treatment’ for depression).
Get moving. Your body expects it.
I’m sure you know more...What exercise myths have you at one time believed were true? Let me know by leaving a comment below.