Working out, let alone just hearing what others have to say about it, can be super intimidating. To make matters worse, there's so many myths when it comes to fitness that starting off on the "right" foot seems nearly impossible. But here's the truth: If you're truly interested in getting active, know that the best approach to exercise is a personal approach. Below, we're debunking five common misconceptions, so you can hit the gym on your own terms and feel good when you do.
"Cardio is the best workout."
While cardio is in fact an important part of maintaining your overall health, experts agree that you should limit yourself to no more than an hour and 15 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week. For low-intensity exercises, try not to go over two and a half hours. Why? After prologed activity, our bodies tend to adapt and, hence, stop burning fat as a safety precaution against too much stress (aka exercise). Plus, with extra activity you tend to start burning muscle, which can slow down your metabolism and put you at risk for injury.
"Heavy weightlifting makes you bulky."
Let me preface this by saying there's absolutely nothing wrong with having very toned, well-defined muscles. Yet contrary to popular belief, achieving a noticeably muscular physique doesn't just happen from lifting a barbell a few times. Take athletes and professional bodybuilders for example: It takes a considerable amount of training, and oftentimes, a strict diet for them to see results — though I bet we've all wished for results overnight.
"Focusing on one target area will help you achieve your goals faster."
If you intend to shed a few pounds near your gut, for example, doing hours of sit-ups and other ab exercises isn't the answer. Because our bodies gain and lose fat in a pre-dispositioned fashion according to genetics, you'll need to work out every muscle group for something to really happen. In other words, "spot reduction" doesn't work — instead try a few different upper body, chest, arm, and back exercises, all of which combined can play a pivotal role in shaping your core.
"Eating less and working out more will lead to weight loss."
If you're seeking long-term weight loss, nine times out of 10 this won't work. Simply put, the food we eat provides our muscles with glycogen, which then gives them the energy and fuel to move during workouts. Take that away by not eating, when you workout, you'll begin burning muscle mass as a replacement instead. Plus, skipping meals can throw your body into what some call "starvation mode" and cause lots of other health-related issues. Not good.
"You have to work out daily to see results."
Let's be real: It's not always realistic (or healthy) to workout every single day, especially if you're just getting started. As a personal trainer, I challenge my clients to come to the gym between three and five times a week, and I've yet to see someone lacking in results. Yes, it's true that consistency is key; however, what's most important is that your workout routine stays efficient.
Now that you've got the facts, I challenge you to take them in stride and get to movin'!