Social media is full of workout Dos and Don’ts. Maybe you feel like you can’t get it right: Your fitness friend from Instagram tells you one thing, and the magazine article you read at the dentist’s office says the opposite. At some point, you might begin to wonder if the workout trend that Jenny from work raves about is actually healthy. If that’s you, consider these seven workout myths and the truths behind them.
- You can work out to burn fat in specific areas. Of course, working out can help to burn off body fat overall, but it turns out that doing 100 sit-ups won’t give you instant abs. In fact, a new study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning had people workout on one side of their body only, and they lost the same amounts of body fat on both sides.
- Crunches equal abs. This cramp-inducing move has become the trademark for a six pack, but it isn’t necessarily the best option. We already know that doing sit-ups won’t burn that belly fat anyway, and crunches only target a fraction of your abdominal muscles. Instead, opt for workouts that focus on your entire core, like planks and bridges.
- Cardio will crush the most calories. With cardio, you’ll feel the burn in the moment, but a strength workout burns more calories in the long run (pun intended). That’s because muscle burns calories quickly. Another common misconception is that unused muscle turns to fat. This often keeps aspiring lifters from working on building muscle. The only thing that happens when you skip one (or ten) workouts is that the muscles shrink. Of course, they are often replaced by fat naturally as a result of the change in lifestyle. So, for your next workout, go for the weights like the strong woman that you are!
- Pre-workout stretching is the best way to avoid injury. Of course, stretching is never a bad idea. In fact, you shouldn’t skip this step in the workout process. But don’t substitute stretching for warming up. For the ideal warm-up, use the same muscles in a similar motion as the ones you use in the heart of your workout. This will help you avoid injury from strained and pulled muscles. So, after you touch your toes, add a short warm-up time to your pre-workout routine.
- The more time you spend in the gym, the healthier you are. You might know that workout fanatic who seems to be injured more often than not. Pushing yourself too hard every day can leave to over-strained muscles. The more fatigued you are, the more likely you are to hurt yourself, which will ultimately keep you from the gym for a lot longer than a rest day. Also, overusing your muscles keeps them from developing. This is your excuse for that cheat day! If you want that muscle definition, give your body a break. (and eat a snicker!)
- Your workout needs to be at least 30 minutes. Your body starts the fat-burning process at the first calorie that you burn, so (unfortunately) a tight schedule isn’t an excuse to skip a workout. If you have a busy schedule, go for a quick, intense workout, like HIIT. It’s better than nothing at all, and it never hurts to change up your routine.
- You need a gym membership to have a good workout. Maybe you don’t want to pay for a monthly membership to drive to a busy gym every day just to wait in line for a machine. Truth is, you can get a great workout at home with some weights, a yoga mat, or just your living room floor. Need a jump start? Try Women’s Health’s list of 15 amazing no-equipment workouts.