We’ve all been in the gym and witnessed people doing crazy things in the pursuit of fitness. Whether you read fitness blogs online or study your favorite health and fitness magazine, you’re aware that there is a lot of misinformation out there. Here are a few myths that can affect your workouts and my response to their claims.
Foremost at the top of my list is the adage, “No pain, no gain!” Coined by some muscle-bound nit-wit, this phrase is not only stupid, it’s dangerous. Your workouts need to be challenging and when you exercise you should go for the burn! Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is the soreness your muscles feel after they’ve been worked and pushed to fatigue. It’s natural and expected especially at the outset of a new training program. But when you experience pain in muscles or joints during repetitions of a set, or when you feel sudden dizziness, nausea, or light-headedness, you need to halt! Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. When you feel any of these things, you need to take a break, get water, and regroup. Chances are that everything will be OK but pushing through serious pain is dangerous.
Secondly, “If you want to lose weight, do cardio and skip the weights.” Doing cardio is an important factor in weight loss and the best way to achieve overall cardiovascular health. Weight training preserves and builds muscle. Resistance training is also essential for any successful weight loss program. You see, the more quality lean muscle you carry, the more calories and fat your body burns all the time, even at rest. If you want to lose weight you need both weight training and cardiovascular training. Of course, you also need a sound nutritional plan if you are serious about losing fat and gaining muscle.
Third, “It’s OK to work out on an empty stomach.” Usually, people who say this believe that they’ll lose weight by working out without the proper fuel. Truth be told, when you exercise first thing in the morning without breakfast, or when you go to the gym after a long day without eating, your body is already in a catabolic state. When you deny yourself proper nutrition your body starts to break down and “feed” on itself, thus the term catabolic state. Sure, you’ll lose fat, but you’ll also lose some of the lean muscle you’ve worked so hard to build.
“You need to take supplements.” It’s true that in order to see and feel the results of all your hard work in the gym, you need to eat right. There is no substitute for eating clean, nutrient dense foods. Try to obtain all your macronutrients by eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. Use a 3-2-1 ratio of carbohydrates, protein, and fat for every feeding. You may need supplementation for a variety of reasons, but don’t just go out and buy everything you can afford. Taking extra supplements can prove to be superfluous, expensive, and even detrimental to your health. Do your research and always check with your physician, first.