10 Exercise Myths Uncovered — with some help from Sir Mix A Lot
As I trainer, I spend a lot of my time trying to convince people that the rumors they hear about working out aren’t always true. It’s so frustrating that people think and do silly things because they think they will get a hot bod. Next time you hear one of these rumors at the gym, just roll your eyes and crank up your iPod.
1. Running makes you lose your butt
Please people! Have you seen a sprinter’s body?
As a runner you have to use one of the strongest muscles in your body: your gluteus maximus! Haven’t you heard the song “Baby Got Back”? When Sir Mix A Lot says “I’ll keep my women like Flo Jo” it’s not because she is booty-less.
Some of the very thin elite runners don’t have much of a backside, but they don’t have much of anything else either. They stay very thin and lean because it helps them run a marathon faster than you can do a 10k.
If you are still worried about it, do your running on an incline and you’ll actually tone your butt and hamstrings even more.
2. You can tone up or lose weight by wearing the right outfit
I know you’ve all seen the guys running around Memorial park with the trash bag looking sweatsuits even when it’s 100 degrees outside. Maybe in the '80s it looked cool and trendy but now, not so much.
I think they really believe they are burning more calories and getting fitter and that somehow sweating inside a trash bag is the “easy” way to get in shape. Sure, because they are super hot and sweating more, their heart has to pump twice as fast. But they are only going to be able to withstand half the distance and intensity they would if they were in normal, flattering workout clothes. By this I mean brands like Nike, Adidas, etc. and not Hefty.
3. Women shouldn't lift heavy weights
If you’ve ever gone to a group fitness class and grabbed anything that weighs less than 3 lbs, I’m talking to you! Instead of worrying about “bulking up” start worrying about not being able to open a bottle of ketchup on your next date, because your biceps are nonexistent.
Women can’t, I repeat…can’t look manly or bulk up unless they are really trying hard to do so. The women you see at the gym or in fitness magazines with bulging muscles work very hard to get that physique. Unless all your meals are chicken + asparagus and you are lifting super heavy weights with very low reps…it ain’t gonna happen.
Challenge your muscles or you aren’t going to look any different or achieve muscle “tone” at all. So, swap out those baby weights for some 8’s or 10 lb’s and you’ll feel stronger and sexier.
4. I'm not eating enough protein!
Whatever. Most Americans get enough or even too much protein. We started with just protein bars and shakes but now we’ve got extra protein everywhere from water, cereal, and pills. What’s next, protein Margaritas at happy hour?
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to consume five animals a day and have protein shakes before and after every workout. Even those who are trying to gain muscle mass or guys wanting to add weight should only eat enough protein that their body can handle. After a certain point, it’s just a waste and your body won’t know what do to with it.
You get protein from beans, veggies, dairy, nuts and other sources that you probably don’t realize. Stop your obsession with protein and just hit the gym.
5. Spinning will bulk your legs
I think people believe this because when you take a hard spinning class, you can really feel it in your quads (aka front thighs). Or, maybe the spinning instructors at your gym just happen to have bigger legs. Does that mean you will look like her/him? No. There are just as many spin instructors who have thin legs.
Spinning is just like any other form of cardio and when your heart is racing faster, you are burning more calories and fat…including the fat on your legs.
6. It's better to work out on an empty stomach
Only if the idea of passing out or vomiting at 6 a.m. sounds appealing. There is some truth to the fact that you will burn a little more fat on an empty stomach. But, if you just eat a little healthy fuel (aka food) in the morning before your workout you will have way more strength and endurance to get a better workout and thus, burn more calories and fat in the long run.
Eating within the first hour you wake up, even if it’s just half of a banana, will get your metabolism revved up.
7. Your muscle will turn to fat
Sure, and my basset hound will turn into a greyhound. This can’t happen. Muscle is muscle and fat is fat….two different types of tissues.
If you increase the size of your muscles and then stop using them for a period of time, they will shrink. But, if your muscles are decreasing it’s probably because you aren’t working out much anymore….so the fat is going to creep back. More fat on top of smaller muscles will make you look fatter! But, you still have the same muscles, I promise.
Prevent your muscles from shrinking by working upper and lower body at least 3 times a week.
8. All trainers are created equal
I’m sure the really lean dude with the bulging biceps probably knows how to get his body in top shape. But, is he a good teacher? Can he explain how to do a pushup without getting tongue-tied? Maybe. Just don’t let looks be the only deciding factor when picking a trainer.
Talk to them and find out if you can communicate well, ask what their certifications are and what experience they have. If they can’t show you how to do a squat without hurting your knees or they seem stumped when you ask them where your hamstrings are, head for the door.
9. Yoga is easy
Think twice! Yoga is not as easy as it looks. Unless the class title says “relaxing”, “gentle” or something like that…you may be in for a wild ride.
Most people don’t realize how hard your entire body and mind has to work during an hour yoga session. You can break more of a sweat and get your heart rate up by trying to balance on one foot than you might while doing lunges. I know first-hand that many professional athletes do yoga and it’s not because it’s easy.
Start with a beginner class to see what it’s about and if you can handle more, try “power yoga”, “hot yoga” or just a longer class to up the intensity. But, please don’t force yourself into the splits on the first day just because the person next to you is doing it.
10. You can get a six-pack if you do crunches everyday
The good news is that you’ve already got a six-pack! The bad news is that it’s probably covered in layers of fat!
So, in order to unleash that six pack you need a few things first: Good genes, a healthy diet and lots of cardio. Only when you combine all that with your crunches and other ab exercises, will you start to see some results.
Cari Shoemate is an ACE-certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and certified yoga instructor. You can get more of her fitness tips at Cari-fit.com.