Debunking the 10 Most Popular Exercising Myths You Might Already Believe

Despite the fact that fitness is one of the most widely researched and documented topics on the internet, there are still a lot of myths about exercising, weightlifting, and losing weight floating around.

As an ER in North Texas, we get a lot of training- and fitness-related injuries and wanted to offer some great information on working out and weightlifting. 

To start here are the 10 biggest exercising myths many people still believe: 

Exercising Myth #1: You can spot reduce fat

Unfortunately, this is not true. It is impossible to spot reduce fat in one specific area such as your stomach. While you can do specific exercises that tone the muscles beneath the body fat, when you lose fat, it comes off proportionately. 

Exercising Myth #2: Lifting weights will make you bulky.

You will not become bulky simply by lifting weights. To grow large amounts of muscle through weightlifting, there are quite a few other things you have to do regularly along with going to the gym such as eat meals extremely high in protein. In other words, you will only look bulky if you want to look that way. Bodybuilders purposely lift heavy weights and follow a specific regiment to achieve that look.

Moderate weight training is a great way to strengthen and tone muscles, improve bone health, and improve your fitness level.

Exercising Myth #3: You can’t lose weight if you’re only lifting weights.

You can lose weight by just lifting weights. In reality, you can lose weight through any type of workout because it’s all about being in a caloric deficit. Exercising just helps you enter into a calorie deficit if losing weight is your goal. 

A calorie deficit is when you consume fewer calories relative to the number of calories required to maintain your current body weight. It is not under-eating or allowing your body to become malnourished. Often, it is eating smaller portions or a healthier diet along with working out where you can burn extra calories and help create a calorie deficit.

Exercising Myth #4: You burn more calories if you exercise before eating.

This is only true if you’re 30 percent over your ideal weight. Anything less than that and you’ll actually burn more calories if you exercise after eating. In fact, you should always avoid strenuous aerobic exercise too soon after eating a big meal. 

Exercising Myth #5: It’s better to exercise in the morning.

This is only true if you enjoy exercising in the morning more than at other times of the day. It makes no difference in terms of calories or fat burned what time of the day you exercise. 

It should be noted though that exercising right before bedtime may make it more difficult to sleep because following a workout, you have higher levels of norepinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol in your body which are hormones that have an excitatory effect on your brain and body. With this in mind, many people find working out in the morning great because it helps keep their energy levels high for the rest of the day. 

Exercising Myth #6: Exercising machines are more effective than free weights (or vice versa).

Neither is more effective than the other. In truth, the effectiveness of the method you choose depends on how well you use the machine or weights. 

Exercising Myth #7: Exercise turns fat into muscle. 

It only seems that way from the outside. Fat and muscle are two different types of tissue your body has and one type of tissue can’t turn into another. 

Exercising requires more energy than you do when your stationary and your body gets that energy from burning fat. As well, exercising improves muscle tone. So, after getting in shape, instead of weak, flabby muscles covered by a thicker layer of fat, you have stronger muscles covered by a thin layer of natural fat. 

Exercising Myth #8: Exercising can be dangerous.

It’s rare to get injured while exercising if you follow proper form and don’t try to over-exert yourself. If you are careful and working out according to your body and proper instruction, exercising is not dangerous.

Exercising Myth #9: Stretching after exercise can help prevent muscle soreness.

Stretching is definitely something you should engage in both before and after working out because it helps maintain muscle and joint flexibility and prevents stiffness. However, it has no effect on muscle pain. 

Exercising Myth #10: No pain, no gain.

This popular phrase has done more harm than good. You can make progress and meet your fitness goals without pain.

Pain is actually your body’s way of telling you that you need to stop whatever activity you are doing. As mentioned above, burn is good, pain is not. 

The Basics of Safely Weightlifting

No matter your age, weightlifting can seem a little intermediating and maybe even dangerous. 

Just like anything else, weightlifting isn’t “one size fits all.” There are so many different types of movements and weight increments you can choose from and find that best that fits your comfortability level and body type. 

That being said, you are basically fighting against gravity so it is important to be careful of your movements and how much weight you’re trying to lift. 

To start here are some general weightlifting safety tips:

  • Start hydrated and fueled: Make sure to drink plenty of water and eat a nutritious meal. If you are dehydrated or hungry, you may begin to feel dizzy and that can be dangerous while you’re handling weights. 
  • Research form beforehand: Before going to the gym, do some research on the proper form for the exercises you’re looking to do. Such as how you should stand, where your feet should be, if you should bend your knees or how your back should be positioned. 
  • Consider workout gloves: Weights aren’t the most comfortable things to hold, so to help protect your hand as well as get some support, consider picking up a pair of workout gloves to wear while weightlifting.
  • Lift an appropriate amount of weight: You can always add on more weight, so begin with a small amount you can lift comfortably, around 10 or 15 pounds. 
  • Rest: Between reps or sets of a specific workout and the workouts themselves, make sure you’re allowing your body proper rest. It is recommended that you rest for two minutes between sets of a particular workout and at two days between working our one are of your body.
  • Breathe: This might seem simple, but it can be easy to accidentally hold your breath while focusing on lifting a weight. So make sure to get in a steady breathing rhythm where you breathe in as you lower the weight and breathe out as you lower it. 
  • Return the weight properly: When you are finished with a set of weights or a bar, make sure you carefully put it back the way you found it. Weights can easily topple over and harm the next person who goes to use them, so make sure you’re storing them properly. 
  • Stop if there’s pain: If you feel pain at any point while weightlifting, stop immediately. Again, pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. 
  • Ask a professional: If you are unsure of the proper form or proper weight amount after doing outside research, try talking to a professional or schedule a single session with a certified instructor or trainer. 

Weightlifting can be an incredible way to work out and get fit for anyone of any age and with any fitness goal. 

While it can seem intimidating, once you test the waters and discover what machines or movements work the best for you, it can be a very rewarding activity.

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