The world of fitness is filled with myths. This is harmful because too many people structure their workouts around these myths or else avoid working out properly entirely because of the myths that they heard. Fitness myths aren’t limited to people
Myth: Cardio is the Only Way to Lose Weight
Not only is cardio not the only way to lose weight, it might not even be the best. Losing weight is a simple function of CICO or “calories in, calories out.” The bottom line is that you lose weight when you’re at a caloric deficit and gain weight when you’re in a caloric surplus.
The heavy lifting when it comes to losing weight is done by figuring out what constitutes maintenance calories for you personally. Then you need to eat less than that. Cardio can be helpful in as much as it burns calories and creates a greater caloric deficit. But there’s nothing magical about cardio that sensible dieting won’t do.
Myth: Crunches Are the Best for Six-Pack Abs
There’s an old saying that “abs are made in the kitchen” or that the best movement for a six-pack is fork putdowns.
Both of these are true in as much as you already have abs. What you want is to make them visible in the form of a six-pack. This is mostly achievable through dieting properly. But we’ve got some bad news: Some people just have awful genetics for six-pack abs. No matter what, the last place their body wants to lose weight is in their midsection. And there’s nothing you can do to spot reduce around the waistline.
In fact, most elite-tier bodybuilders do very little abdominal work, because they’re trying to retain a trim waistline, something that a lot of heavy ab work just isn’t going to help with. If you want a six-pack, see our first myth and start changing your diet accordingly.
Myth: Lifting Heavy Weights Will Make You Bulky
Many people, women especially, are under the mistaken impression that simply looking at a barbell is going to transform them into the kind of hulking freak that wins Mr. Olympia. In reality, the guys who compete in elite bodybuilding eat a ridiculous amount of calories in an average day and inject a Herculean amount of steroids into their butts. You’re not going to look like them without a lot of effort directed toward that end.
What’s more, weightlifting for the most part doesn’t make people bulky unless that’s the look they’re chasing after. Muscle weighs more than fat, so you might not like what you see on the scale, but when combined with sensible dieting and moderate low-intensity cardio, lifting weights can be one of the best ways to shed fat.
Remember what Arnold once told a man who said he’d never want to look like the Austrian Oak: “Don’t worry, you won’t.”
Myth: You Shouldn’t Exercise Every Day
Rest and recovery are absolutely essential to maintaining proper health and fitness, even if your goal is to be a world-champion powerlifter. But here’s the thing: You can absolutely do some kind of “exercise” activity 365 calendar days every year and not die. In fact, you can be quite healthy doing that.
The point to remember is that you can’t go absolutely ham every day of the week or yes, you will burn out, get injured, see your gains backslide, or all of the above. So prioritize active recovery like light cardio, stretching, yoga, and other things to keep yourself fit and trim while keeping active.
Myth: You Can’t Build Muscle After 40
The honest truth is that you’re not going to build muscle at 40 like a 20-year-old. That’s true. However, what is completely untrue is that if you’ve been a couch potato for the first 40 years of your life it’s too late for you to do anything of value in the gym.
There are tons of men competing in the highly competitive sports of powerlifting and bodybuilding masters who never touched a barbell before their 40th birthday. Your age might slow you down compared to the younger whipper snappers, but it’s not going to completely take you out of the game.
Avoid the myths and focus on the reality. That’s the best thing for anyone to do when they’re looking to get fit, stay fit, and make consistent progress toward their fitness goals day by day.
What fitness myths do you hear repeated that you can’t stand? Leave your “favorite” in the comment below.