The most important part of working out is following a regimen that not only works for your personal fitness goals and needs, but also one that relies on proven exercise science to ensure that you receive the greatest benefit while avoiding injury. Jim O’Connor, exercise physiologist/strength and conditioning coach, has created a list of the “Top 5 Workout Myths” to avoid in order to keep your workouts safe and effective:
MYTH 1 – If you do thousands of crunches, then you will have a flat stomach and decrease fat in the stomach area.
Infomercials often state you can obtain a flat, beautiful stomach by only having to use their simple ab machine and nothing else. There are also gimmicks out there saying that all you need to do is exercise 2 minutes per day, and voila! The truth is, you cannot spot reduce. Doing a specific exercise, for a certain muscle, does not make fat suddenly vanish. Fat is lost over time by burning more calories than the body consumes on a regular basis. Fat will then disappear throughout your entire body, and you don’t have control of where it comes off. Doing a certain exercise for a specific muscle will only guarantee a stronger, more fit muscle. The keys to fat loss are decreasing caloric intake, increasing activity for an extended period of time, and incorporating a workout of strength, cardio, and flexibility.
MYTH 2 – Lifting heavy weight for 8-12 reps will build big muscles (especially women) so you should lift very light weights and do a lot of reps (20 +).
This one never seems to go away. Doing heavier weights WILL NOT suddenly turn you into the Incredible Hulk. Your objective should be to maintain, or slightly increase your fat burning lean tissue. In order to do this, you must increase the intensity of the exercise by elevating weight, number of reps, or decreasing rest time between sets. If you increase intensity regularly, you will see good results. If you do not, you will get the same results you have been getting. Increase the intensity until you are happy with the progress you have made and then maintain the same intensity level.
Myth 3 – For resistance training, you need to do 3 sets of 10-e15 reps, 3 exercises per body part, at a frequency of 3 days per week.
How many sets are really needed? According to scientific studies, the exact number of sets needed to stimulate lean tissue development is one, if performed at 100% momentary muscle failure. A single all out set is the ideal stimulus to trigger lean tissue development. All other sets only hinder the recovery process when lean tissue develops. Then there is the concept of “rest”. People generally don’t get enough rest between workouts. Please be aware that the higher the intensity, the more rest is required between workouts to allow lean tissue development. If you workout (strength train) a previously trained muscle(s) too soon, before you are fully recovered, you will short circuit your results. It is better to wait longer between workouts than to workout when you are not fully recovered. Ideal rest times (depending upon intensity and muscle(s) worked) are anywhere from 3 – 10 + days between strength training workouts.
MYTH 4 – All I need to do is cardiovascular training to be in shape.
Please do not make this mistake. Cardiovascular exercise is an important workout component, but it is only one piece of the workout puzzle. To design an optimal fitness program, cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility should all be incorporated together. Cardiovascular exercise will do very little to increase your flexibility, and maintain or increase your lean tissue. If you avoid any of these three components, you are decreasing your results by one third. As a result of the aging process, on average, 5-7 pounds of muscle is lost each decade if you don’t strength train.
MYTH 5 – All fitness equipment is good if you use it.
All fitness equipment is not created equal, especially home fitness equipment advertised in infomercials. Some pieces of fitness equipment are not well built, and can cause injury to specific individuals resulting from medical limitations. Research your options and read reviews before buying any kind of equipment. And make sure to find out how often your home equipment should be serviced.
[Source: List provided by Coach Jim O’Connor, Wellnessword.com]
All exercise programs should be partnered with a healthy diet. Your diet is crucial for not only the support of your health and weight goals, but also to improve your training performance. When diet and exercise are not paired together, desired results cannot be reached.
It is important to speak with your physician before starting any kind of exercise program.
Explore our site to discover more information about integrative health and stay tuned for more blogs about different exercise programs, exercise progression and how to create your own exercise regimen.
For more of Jim O’Connor’s diet and exercise insights, visit wellnessword.com