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The Top Misconceptions About Fitness And Why They Are Wrong

When it comes to staying fit and healthy, it's easy to get caught up in all the latest trends. The fitness industry is competitive, and businesses are always trying to come out with the newest fitness gadget or magic pill to help you get that proclaimed "perfect body." However, not all these claims are accurate, and some are outright false. From believing that lifting weights will make you bulky to thinking that doing endless hours of cardio will directly lead to weight loss, it can be hard to know what to believe. This blog will explore the top misconceptions about fitness and why they are inaccurate.

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💪 Weight Lifting Makes You Bulky

As mentioned in our intro, one of the many misconceptions about strength training is that lifting weights will make you bulky. This idea may not pose a concern for those looking to increase muscle mass. However, this misconception can be harmful to others trying to improve their strength without the bulk.

The idea that lifting weights and practicing strength training correlate to bulk on the body needs to be corrected for a few reasons.

  1. Developing muscle mass and adding "bulk" requires a specific nutritional regimen—for example, a high-calorie intake with increased daily protein and a surplus of energy. You will not become bulky if you are not consuming enough calories to support muscle growth.

  2. Adding bulk to the body requires a unique training approach along with a focused diet. This type of workout requires you to train for hypertrophy. Or in other words, this means putting more strain or tension on your muscles than they are used to.

  3. Whether we want to believe it or not, genetics and hormonal differences also affect how our bodies react to training. On top of that, men and women have different levels of hormones that affect muscle building. Testosterone, for example, one of the main hormones responsible for muscle building, is present at much higher levels in men than in women. Some people may build muscle faster and more efficiently than others, but this does not necessarily mean they will become bulky.

🥕 Exercise Can Compensate for Other Bad Habits

Our next misconception seems obvious, but it is much harder to crack down on when we are honest with ourselves. The idea that we can maintain a poor diet due to a consistent workout regimen, or vice versa, is untrue.

Our eating habits and exercise routines are complementary and should work in tandem to improve our overall health. If you have a healthy diet but never exercise, you miss out on the benefits of physical activity, such as improved cardiovascular health, reduced stress, better mental health, and support towards joint health.

On the other hand, though regular exercise can help burn calories and build muscle, it cannot compensate for a poor diet. Eating a diet high in processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats can still lead to weight gain, heart disease, and other health problems, regardless of how often you hit the gym.

a healthy meal

Burning off "cheat day" calories through exercise can be misleading. While exercise does burn calories, it's common to overestimate how many calories you've burned in a workout and underestimate how many calories you've consumed. This leads to overeating and prolonging progress made through exercise.

To truly improve our health, we must focus on our diet and exercise habits simultaneously. This means making healthier food choices, such as eating more fruits and vegetables and limiting processed foods and sugary or carbonated drinks, while incorporating regular physical activity into our daily routine. Doing so can achieve a balanced, sustainable approach to health and wellness.

I talk more about the importance of finding balance with these health aspects in the Road To A Health You blog post.

😰 Sweat Indicates A Good Workout

"Sweat or regret."

"Sweat is just fat crying."

"If the sweat ain't flying, you ain't trying!"

These quotes are included in marketing campaigns and merchandise spread throughout the fitness industry. The idea is that sweat is the best indicator of hard work. Some of those quotes would lead one to believe that if you didn't sweat, you didn't try. But as we will discuss, this is not the case.

Sweat is our body's natural response to regulating temperature, cooling you down as it rises. When we sweat, water and electrolytes release through the pores in our skin. And as the sweat evaporates, it takes heat with it, cooling our bodies down. We sweat when we sleep, eat, and do almost any other activity. This doesn't mean we are working hard, though.

Wearing sweat or sauna suits is one way I've seen clients try to work off those last few pounds and make themselves feel like their workout was worth it. But what they, and many others, get tricked into believing is that sweat equals hard work and results. Instead, sweat only temporarily reduces water weight and is a natural bodily response. Some solid indicators we can look to include feeling energized and upbeat post-workout, feeling a mild burn in the muscles used during the workout, and increased flexibility over time.

💤 Rest Days Are Unnecessary

Getting caught up in a fitness routine you love is easy. But remember to pay close attention to your body's natural indicators for overtraining. Overtraining puts you at risk of mental burnout, muscle strains, and reduced workout performance.

Rest days are refuel times for the body's main drivers: the muscles. When you work out, you create micro-tears throughout the body, breaking down the muscle fibers. Only during rest can your body effectively and efficiently restore and repair those fibers, making them stronger and more resilient. This becomes even more apparent when just starting or giving it your all in your sessions, where soreness is bound to occur.

man walking dog

If you plan on working out on consecutive days, it's essential to remember to take active recovery and rest days into account. Active recovery days are days when you engage in light physical activity to promote blood flow throughout the body, increase flexibility, and reduce muscle stiffness. Some examples of active recovery activities include stretching, low-impact walks, or light resistance training. On the other hand, rest days pertain to a day where you do not engage in physical activities outside your regular everyday routine. Both active recovery and rest days are great options to include in your weekly fitness lineup. Not only will you aid your body in the recovery process, but you will keep the progress coming with fully recovered muscle fibers.

🎯 Final Thought: Keep A Keen Eye

An industry without new and innovative ideas is an industry not thriving. But that said, it's important to stay aware of the trends and make conclusions for yourself. If you have questions, feel free to seek advice from professionals in the fitness industry to avoid falling prey to these misconceptions.

Remember, fitness is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and what works for one person may not work for another. This is why professionals work with your specific needs and abilities rather than preaching a particular regimen or fad diet as the best solution.

By debunking these myths, we can help more people achieve their fitness goals and improve their overall health and wellbeing. So keep asking questions, and keep crushing those workouts!

This post was originally written for Nivati, the employee mental health platform. You can read the blog post on the Nivati blog here.


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