The world of health and fitness is riddled with myths – and sadly, many of them are getting passed around without anyone questioning them or doing any kind of research! And there is a good reason for that – people are always looking for shortcuts, quick fixes and straightforward answers, and fitness myths are ready to oblige.
At BBR, we often get asked about both the latest crazes and some ‘gym wisdom’ that has been around for decades. Today, we’d like to debunk 10 popular fitness myths that may be sabotaging your progress!
1. Lifting heavy makes you bulky
Wrong! For women, lifting is exactly what’s required to build a slender, toned physique – cardio alone is not conducive to achieving this! In addition, resistance training has numerous additional benefits, including:
- Getting stronger
- Increasing lean body mass
- Decreasing the risk of developing osteoporosis
- Reducing the risk of heart disease
- Preventing diabetes
- Improving mental health and overall emotional state
Remember: lifting weight is only deemed ‘masculine’ because of outdated gender stereotypes! However, the views are quickly shifting, and it’s about time to join the resistance training movement.
2. Eating late at night will cause weight gain
Another iteration of this myth states that consuming carbs close to bedtime makes you put on fat. Rejoice and make yourself a bedtime toast – so long as you’re within nutritional targets overall, as this is the primary factor influencing whether you’ll gain fat or not!
Of course, it’s important to be mindful of your overall intake: research shows that those consuming late meals tend to overeat, as that additional meal sometimes tips them over their energy allowance. However, so long as all meals are accounted for, and it’s not just a random bedtime munching spree, eating late at night will not sabotage your progress!
3. Excessive Cardio is the best way to lose fat
Unfortunately, cardio alone is unlikely to produce the results you want – so if you’re a notorious cardio bunny, it may be time to re-assess your strategy! Of course, cardio is an important component of every balanced training regime – it burns a lot of energy during the session, promotes heart health and helps increase endurance, to name a few benefits! However, excessive cardio can decrease muscle mass and induce too much stress in the body. At BBR, we believe in balanced programs that include a variety of training styles, as well as sufficient rest and recovery.
4. If you work hard enough, you can completely transform your body
This is a tricky one and depends on your expectations! While it’s entirely possible to work on any area you want to focus on and achieve amazing results, there are limits to the extent your physique can be changed based on your bone structure and several other factors.
For example, say you wanted to achieve a tighter waist, but you’re someone who has a shorter torso and wider ribs. Even with low body fat %, your waist will not get very narrow. However, you can still create an illusion of a smaller waist by working on broadening your back, shoulders and hips/buttocks.
A great way to set realistic goals and expectations is drawing inspiration from accomplished athletes who have a similar natural shape to you! This way, you’re setting yourself up for success, not disappointment. Even better, don’t compare yourself to others at all and focus on creating the best version of you!
5. No DOMS – no glory
Also known as ‘no pain – no gain’, this myth perpetuates a belief that if you’re not sore after a workout, you wasted it. This couldn’t be further from the truth! While you must push yourself hard at the gym to see results, overdoing it can be very harmful by provoking injuries, prolonging recovery time and putting excessive stress on your body. And contrary to popular belief, post-workout soreness (also known as delayed onset muscle soreness) is not a good measure of workout quality at all. Rather, it’s an indication of muscle damage caused by unfamiliar or unaccustomed exercise. While very common when you just start working out or try a new training style, DOMS should not keep affecting you forever! If it does, it may be a sign of poor recovery, and you may want to reassess your routine.
6. There are magic supplements that promote rapid fat loss
Fat burners. Detox teas. Mysterious concoctions squeezed in tiny pills. All of them have something important in common…they never work as intended! At best, you can get a mild temporary metabolism boost form fat loss supplements – and if you’re really unlucky, you can be sold a glorified laxative that’s not exactly great for your digestive system (and doesn’t burn fat either). The solution? If fat loss is your goal, stay consistent with your nutrition protocol (including staying in calorie deficit) and be active every day – this is the only proven way to achieve your goals!
7. You can eat whatever you want so long as your calorie needs are met
For weight loss – potentially…however, don’t get too excited, as following this approach can damage your health big time! For instance, while 19-century sailors and merchants often had plenty of calories in their diets, scurvy – caused by vitamin C deficiency – killed more people than storms, shipwrecks, combat, and all other diseases combined. An occasional treat won’t hurt – however, the bulk of your diet should consist of balanced, wholesome foods to ensure you’re getting all macro- and micronutrients your body needs for optimal functioning.
8. Wearing a waist trainer will make your waist smaller
It will – but only while you’re wearing the thing (or maybe for another hour if you wear it long enough to develop a temporary indentation)! In other words, such devices do not ‘train’ your waist whatsoever and are just glorified shapewear that also carries certain health risks. These days, everyone knows that corsets were not exactly the best idea for women, squishing the internal organs and constricting breathing. Modern waist trainers are less restrictive and don’t have excruciatingly stiff boning, however, they still pose many of the same risks, such as dehydration from sweating profusely, bacterial infections (again, from sweat being trapped), acid reflux and more. In addition, wearing a waist trainer can actually weaken your core muscles as you end up doing less work to maintain body positioning.
9. You need to spend hours at the gym daily to achieve results
Contrary to this, too much exercise is bad for you – and spending hours at the gym each day is a very easy way to overdo it! Otherwise, your body simply doesn’t have sufficient time to recover and repair between the workouts, increasing the risk of injury and negatively affecting your immune system. Work smart, not hard – 30-75 minutes per session, depending on workout style, and 1-2 rest days a week is your best bet to achieve amazing results without burning out.
10. Training abs gives you a thick waist
Theoretically, this is a valid concern if your goals include preserving a narrow waist. After all, abdominals are a muscle – and just like other muscles, they can grow when targeted. However, you are unlikely to experience any unwanted hypertrophy unless you’re performing abdominal exercises that are heavily weighted. Conversely, exercises such as vacuums, planks, crunches and exercises using lighter weights will help strengthen and define your abdominals without the ‘bulk’ if that’s something you’re worried about.
And there you have it – 10 popular fitness myths, debunked! We hope this information will help you separate facts from fiction, enhancing your training regime and promoting better results.
Liz and Team BBR xx