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Fitness Myths

06/06/2014

We bust some of the most common fitness myths.

1. Doing crunches will get rid of belly fat.
 
While an ab-crunching device might help strengthen the muscles around your midsection and improve your posture, being able to "see" your abdominal muscles has to do with your overall percentage of body fat. If you don't lose the belly fat, you won't see the ab muscles.
 
2. An aerobic workout will boost your metabolism for hours after you stop working out.
 
This statement is actually true - but the calorie burn is probably not nearly as much as you think. While your metabolism will continue to burn at a slightly higher rate after you finish an aerobic workout, the amount is not statistically significant. In fact, it allows you to burn only about 20 extra calories for the day. While there's a little bit more of a metabolic boost after strength training, it's still marginal.
 
3. Swimming is a great weight loss activity.
 
While swimming is great for increasing lung capacity, toning muscles, and even helping to burn off excess tension, the surprising truth is that unless you are swimming for hours a day, it may not help you lose much weight. Because the buoyancy of the water is supporting your body, you're not working as hard as it would if, say, you were moving on your own steam - like you do when you run.
 
4. Stretching before working out is crucial to preventing injury
 
Stretching after a workout can be beneficial, but stretching before a workout actually doesn't increase your range of motion. In fact, some studies suggest that stretching destabilize muscles, making them less prepared for strenuous exercise, especially if you're doing something like weight-lifting. Instead, do a warm-up, which gets your blood pumping.
 
5. The more you sweat, the more you burn.
 
Especially drenched after your regular afternoon run? That doesn't mean you necessarily torched any more calories than usual (sorry!). Sweat is a biological response that cools your skin and regulates internal body temperature. It's just as apt to be the result of an overheated studio, the weather or your personal physiology as it is a gruelling gym session.
 
6. More hours spent in the gym leads to better results
 
In reality: If you think making the gym your second home is a great way to get results, think again. Overtraining is a surefire way to stop any muscle growth — instead of your body rebuilding its muscle tissues, it'll continue to break it down. This means you'll actually start to lose muscle. You need to train smarter, not harder. When you are in the gym, give 110%. Push your muscles, then give them the rest they need to grow bigger and stronger. Make sure to do cardio training. If your workouts are taking much longer than an hour, chances are you are either wasting too much time between sets, or you're not training in the most effective manner.