Whether you read it on the internet or heard it from a friend, it’s easy to fall into the trap of health and fitness myths and half-truths.
Let’s set the record straight on some of the most popular fitness myths out there so you can start your healthy and active lifestyle on the right foot.
You can spot reduce fat
We are sorry to burst your bubble but doing 100 crunches every day is not going to magically melt away your belly fat and give you abs.
What it will do is strengthen your core and help in building muscle. Spot reduction is when you only perform targeted exercises to burn fat from certain specific areas of your body. Spot reduction of fat is a common fitness myth that most beginners tend to believe. Where your body burns fat is largely dependent on your genetics. To shed excess fat, you need to maintain an active lifestyle that includes a good mix of cardio and resistance training and be in a calorie deficit.
Muscle weighs more than fat
A kilogram is a kilogram!
It is a common misconception that muscle weighs more than fat. But remember, a kilogram of muscle will be the same as a kilogram of fat. What they do differ in, is density. So if you look at muscle and fat side by side, one kilogram of muscle is going to take up lesser space than one kilogram of fat.
Your body’s fat and muscle content (among other things) determines your shape and size. Two people having the same height and weight can look very different depending on the percentage of fat and muscle in their bodies. The one with more muscle mass will have a leaner, more sculpted look.
Muscle turns to fat if you stop working out
Another fitness myth that is still doing the rounds is that if you are not consistent with your workout routine, your muscles will turn into fat.
Your body is made up of both, fat and muscle cells. When you exercise and follow a nutritious diet, your muscles grow in size and strength. Similarly, when you are in a calorie deficit, the fat cells shrink in size. Both of these factors together give your body a toned and defined look.
When you stop working out, your muscles gradually reduce in size and mass. They DO NOT automatically get converted to fat. And if you consume more calories than you burn, i.e. you enter a state of caloric surplus, your fat cells grow in size, giving you an overall larger appearance.
No pain, no gain
While it is common to feel soreness in your muscles after an intense workout, especially for beginners, it is not indicative of the effectiveness of your workout regime.
When you perform an exercise, your muscles work harder than they do for regular day-to-day activities, and this causes microscopic tears in your muscle fibres. This micro-injury is referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) which typically occurs between 24-48 hours after your workout. As you progress and become more advanced in your fitness journey, your muscles adapt to the load and do not get fatigued and sore as easily.
Instead of focusing on soreness as a measure of how good your workout is, track and monitor other tangible parameters like:
- The weight you lift.
- The number of reps you perform.
- How long or fast you can run, etc.
If you’re not sweating during your workout, you’re not exercising hard enough
Sweating is nothing but a way for your body to cool itself.
It is in no way an indicator of how hard you are exerting yourself during a workout session. Just because you did not break a sweat does not mean you had an ineffective workout.
Low-intensity exercise formats like walking do not leave you in a sweaty mess at the end but still are highly effective and come with a whole bunch of benefits. Use step-counter apps like StepSetGo to track your walks, monitor your activity’s effectiveness, and understand how you progress over time.
Let us know if you would like a part 2 of this blog where we debunk even more health and fitness myths!