Every sphere of life is tainted with myths, conspiracies and unestablished facts and fitness industry is no exception. When it comes to anything with human body, we at Modern Indian Man adjudge science as the ultimate connoisseur. You may be a recent gym goer or a seasoned weightlifter, but the myths around training, diet, fat loss, muscle gain, supplements and Performance Enhancing Drugs are plenty. For every third truth there is a lie in the fitness industry, and sometimes it is hard to determine which is which. There is a lot of nonsense in the health world, but don’t worry we’ll help you sort through the most common exercise and fitness myths as we bust the following infamous tales of fiction of the fitness industry that definitely need to die.
1. The more you sweat, the more you burn
This is the most common and most prevailing myth. Sorry to break it down, but perspiration (sweat is made up of water, tiny amounts of chemicals, salt and sugar) is the body’s mechanism to cool and regulate your system. But it doesn’t torch any extra calories as you would have thought. So next time you feel like giving up on a set just because you feel worked due to sweat, think twice?
2. Crunches are the key to six-pack abs!
Everyone is responsible for this white lie. The models, the actors and the bodybuilders in the past have all made crunches the flagbearers of flat abs. With the advent of sports science and exercise physiology, it’s been established that the range of motion offered in a crunch is insufficient to entirely work your mid-section. And why bother giving extra pain to your Neck and back?? Instead try Planks and bicycle kicks.
3. Lifting heavy will bulk you up
Gradual progression in weights helps you build strength over a period of time. An increase in strength demands muscle development in the body. With more lean mass, fat loss is easier and the body burns more due to an increase in the metabolism. So yes lifting heavy is an efficient way to lose fat and build muscle but if you’re imagining yourself as a beefed up bodybuilder, high time you start looking at the Gymnasts and Cross fitters.
4. More cardio, more weight loss
Yes, Cardio does burn a lot of calories during the activity time. However, the calories are restricted to the exercise duration. On the other hand, weightlifting helps you improve your resting metabolism which in turn helps you burn calories during rest. Further, you burn more calories in the hours post your training. Think Long term maybe?
5. You can convert fat into muscle
There is no such mechanism in body which can magically convert easily occurring fat to hard earned muscle. No amount of clean eating; fancy supplements or exercise plans can do it. Muscle tissue is made up of protein, water and glycogen while fat’s primary composition is triglycerides. They both have quite an opposite function. While muscle is responsible for the powering movements, fat is primarily an energy reserve for the body, tapped in when the need arises. As you know now, they have hardly anything in common and thus the body cannot transform one into other. However, you could do with an educated word – Body re-composition. It’s the loss of body fat used for
energy and the gain in muscle mass as a result of eating correctly and training muscle fibers.
6. Sports drinks are very good for rehydration
They are not. They carry a ton of sugar. A standard 500ml bottle of Gatorade carries about 30 grams of sugar. You are just inhibiting your progress by adding extra sugar into your nutrition plan. Unless you are a seasoned pro athlete, your body doesn’t demand a high sugar for recovery content. Avoid sugary drinks before, during or after workout. Rather choose electrolytes if the need be!
7. Muscle can convert into fat
Muscle doesn’t directly convert into fat. However, through strength training, the body goes into a fat loss mode while developing muscles at the same time. This obviously needs to be supported by a good nutrition plan, limiting your calories and managing sufficient intake of proteins. Since you start seeing muscle under the subcutaneous fat getting more visible and dominating that body part, its only common to assume muscle is taking over the fat.
8. Cardio first before workout
Unless you have specific goals outlined for your sport, cardio need not be done prior to your workouts. People believe cardio is a good warm up for strength training. While it does elevate the heart rate, it doesn’t activate the group of muscles that you’d be training. It’s important to warm up your muscles through dynamic stretches and light weight repetitions of your main sets. You can always plan your cardio for a separate session, thus allowing more time and effort to get better at it.
9. Weight training is only for men
Men and Women have similar physiological functions, apart from few hormonal differences. All the basic actions and functions of our bodies overlap. It is this commonality that demands muscle strength, flexibility, reduced body fat and muscle endurance from women too. Women don’t develop muscles as quickly like men, thanks to their genetic and physiological make up. But people have a pre-conceived notion of women turning into Super-women with strength training sessions in their training plan. It is paramount for them to include weight training and strengthen their bones and muscles given the physical stress that their bodies undergo.
10. At least 20 minutes of cardio to make it count
The whole purpose of cardio is to stimulate your cardio-respiratory system. This challenge sends a message to your brain to make your system more efficient. And with regular practice and increased challenge, the body adapts and improves the supply of blood and nutrients to the working muscles and increases the amount of waste products that must be removed from those muscles. So depending on the type of activity you perform, the time differs. A high intensity interval training demands more bursts of energy in short span, thus limiting the exercise time while longer distances require longer times. Depending on the type of workout, the duration is set. Not the other way around!
11. Ketogenic diet is the best for fat loss
Fat loss and weight loss can be achieved through different ways. Period. Cut down a major
macronutrient like fat or carbohydrates and achieve a calorie deficit that way. Eat many small frequent meals spread over the course of the day and achieve a calorie deficit that way. Eat large portions of very satiating low-calorie foods and achieve a calorie deficit that way. As you can notice, a diet works because it helps you achieve a calorie deficit – consuming a below-maintenance number of calories. So if something isn’t working, it’s because it’s not creating enough calorie deficit over a long term. It’s all about sustainability, sustain it and it will work! So be it Ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting or any other fancy word you wish to denote for your nutrition plan, if its cuts calories, you are on the right path.
12. Spot reduction works
One of the favourite things of any uneducated gym goer is to perform ab exercises all day in pursuit of reduced abdominal fat and seek six packs. Subcutaneous Fat cannot be targeted through exercise of specific muscles to lose weight. Performing spot reduction specific exercises may strengthen the muscular responsible for those movements, but they have negligible impact on reducing the amount of fat stored there. Keen marketing and blind faith have led to more people falling for this white lie. So next time, don’t be tempted to blast your specific body part with fancy exercises and prescriptions only to realize futile results.
13. Immediately load up protein after the workout
For quite long, there was a strong belief of ‘window of opportunity’ being widely used as term to encourage quick consumption of protein post training session, precisely 15-30mins post workout. Although there have been conflicting claims, the hypertrophic effects are not maximised to this specific anabolic window. Instead, it depends on your 24hr nutritional distribution. If you are able to load up on a few grams then good, but if you don’t manage to get in an immediate post workout shake or meal sometimes, don’t bother yourself in thinking about losing all your gains!
14. Squats are bad for your knees
Squats with a bad form are bad for your knees. It is essential to get your form and technique checked and corrected before lifting heavy. From your breathing to your feet stance, everything is essential in performing this one hell of a compound movement! Do it right and you’ll enjoy the blessings of Glute and Quad Kings.
15. Morning workouts are better than evening
The body doesn’t recognise the time of workout for optimal gains. All that matter is whether you make time in a given day to schedule a workout or no. So don’t fret over morning and evening workouts, be consistent and regular and embrace training as a part of your lifestyle. But make sure you have a daily routine so that your mental, physical and your surrounding energy is consistent with the needs of exercise and your sleep cycle is undisturbed. Be in tune with yourself and listen to your body and mind, you will be performing your best workout.
16. Measure BMI to check your fitness level
BMI is a very outdated approach to measure someone’s fitness level. It is quite likely a bodybuilder weighing 100kgs with a body fat of 7% will be shown as obese on the BMI calculators. BMI doesn’t distinguish between fat and muscle and only takes into account your height and weight, and then tells you whether you’re underweight, healthy, overweight or obese. The accurate way of assessing your fitness levels is through measurement of body fat and muscle percentage along with accomplishment of other health goals. Click here to read about what are known as 5 pillars of fitness if you are aiming for holistic health.
17. You cannot grow your calves
You can only stimulate a muscle as much for hypertrophy. Your calves have a good potential to grow like your arms but its time consuming. True that calves are very much genetically determined, given the Soleus muscle of the calves is largely made up of slow-twitch muscle fiber. The slow-twitch muscle type has a far less growing potential than their fast-twitch counterparts. Further, Soleus also has less portion of protein available for muscle protein synthesis. With calves being worked out every day, helping you stand or walk, it’s less responsive to weight training. However, it is possible to grow your calves if you prioritize and select your exercise wisely.
18. You cannot work your way through genetics
Dedication, hard work and discipline will always win over the gifts of genetics. At an ultra-
professional level, the nuances of genetic makeup can decide the winner from the rest. But if you wish to pursue a healthy lifestyle, the former qualities matter more. Yes, things like the muscle length, muscle shape and symmetry are affected by genetics, but you’d only bother about that if you were into bodybuilding. So stop worrying about something that’s not in your control to change and start training.
19. Protein should be double the bodyweight
Proteins are the building blocks of body and rightly so they help in body recovery. However,
everybody has a different protein requirement. Protein requirement depends on your activity level, frequency of activity and your lifestyle in general. A person having a sedentary lifestyle and who works out twice a week doesn’t need extra protein as the body doesn’t demand it. Anything in excess is not good and the body dumps it into fat storage. If you want to truly tone up, you’ll need more nutrients than what you get from a mere protein food source. Be sure to get a fair share of fruits, nuts and fresh produce into your diet making sure your micro-nutrients are also covered.
20. No pain no gain
A little discomfort is okay, but you should understand the difference between getting out of comfort zone and feeling a sharp pain. There is a thin line between getting injured and stimulating maximum hypertrophy. Unless you are an experienced athlete, always train under the guidance of a fitness coach who will be able to push you to your fitness limits.
21. Fruit is a healthy snack that can’t make you fat
Humans eat food because it gives us nutrients and fuel, but any kind of food, no matter how healthy, can make you gain weight. Fruits have a lot of easily accessible carbs in the form of sugars. Fruits rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates like lime, kiwi, orange and papaya are excellent while mangoes, pomegranates are high in sugars. When you provide your body with easily accessible carbs over your nutritional limit, you’re basically halting the fat loss process.
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