3 common myths about working out

What myths about w

In this second part of the small serious discussing myths, we will look at the myths that still a lot of people believe but are not true. I bet there are hundreds of others, but I will focus on the ones that I have heard many times.

1. Weight training makes you look “bulky”

This is a reason why a lot of girls are afraid to weight train and they prefer cardio or training exclusively with their own bodyweight where they do three hundred squats and hundred sit-ups. And you know what? I wish it would be so easy so that you start weight train and your muscle grow in three days. Unfortunately, it is not the case. Building muscle is a very difficult and very long process and most usually it takes much more time than losing fat.

If weight training could make me a bodybuilder without any other effort, I would probably be a bodybuilder right now. But a lot of people don’t know how much work and effort is behind bodybuilding. It is not only the training, but it is also a very strict diet, months and years of hard work and determination. Building muscle is in any case a great advantage but a lot of people are not even capable of building so much muscle that someone would even consider them being a bodybuilder.

And one more note, which is not so much about working out but it ties nicely with this topic – and I have already written about it in my article about protein – just as weight training won’t make you look like a bodybuilder, the same goes for protein and protein shakes. Don’t be afraid to eat enough protein, it really won’t make you bulky.

2. Indicators of a good workout

A lot of people think they only had a good workout if:

  • They are drained in sweat
  • They are destroyed and they are glad they can walk out of the gym
  • They have sore muscles the next day (or the next few days)

And when one of those conditions is not fulfilled, it was NOT good training. Well, it is not like this. Concerning sweating, it is not the indicator of the effort that is put into the workout. It depends on many variables such as how much water you drank, the temperature outside or in the room, what you ate the day before, and many more. It is quite clear that if you work out in a cold room, you won’t sweat as much.

With that, there are simply days when your body doesn’t have the need to cool itself down and get rid of excess water, so you won’t sweat. Similarly, when you work out at 30 degrees Celsius, you will probably sweat even if you only move your pinkie and that also doesn’t mean that your workout is good.

Also, a lot of people think that they have to leave the gym DESTROYED. That is not true, a workout should actually make you feel good and energized. The same goes with the soreness the next day. You can do three hundred bodyweight squats and your quads will most probably be sore the next day but that does not mean that they have a good impulse for growth. It only means that the muscles did something that they are not used to. With that, if you are extremely sore after every single workout, it is a bad sign, not a good sign. It probably means you work out too much and don’t give yourself enough rest.

Now, that doesn’t mean that it is a bad thing when you feel sore the next day after a workout, not at all. There are some workouts when you will feel sore. The sessions where you achieve your new personal records, the sessions where you try all the new moves you haven’t tried before. Yes, there is a time and a place for training sessions like those…but it shouldn’t be all of them.

What IS an indicator of a good workout? If you were pushing yourself with the last few reps in every exercise, if you progressively overload throughout weeks and months (heavier weights, more reps, or shorter breaks), your workouts are DIFFICULT for you, they are good. I know it is quite abstract if you don’t work out yourself, but with time you WILL know what is and what is not a good workout. And trust me, sweat, pain, and tears won’t be the indicators.

3. You CANNOT spot reduce fat

One of the things that I believed in as well when I was first started exercising. I want my legs to be skinnier so I will do a lot of squats, I want to get rid of the fat on my stomach, so I will do crunches, sit-ups, and planks and it will go away. It would be amazing if it worked like that, but unfortunately, it is not. There was a study performed in 1984:

[They] looked at fat biopsies that were taken from the abdominal area before and after a 27-day period that had subjects progressively increase the number of sit-ups they were doing. Subjects started with 140 sit-ups a day and by the end of the study, they were doing 336 sit-ups a day. The group averaged 185 sit-ups a day while a control group did not exercise. Following the study, the fat cells in the abdominal area were not reduced. There were no significant changes in either fat-folds, girth, or total fat content assessed by underwater weighing.”[1]

 So, it doesn’t matter how many sit-ups you do, as long as you are in a calorie deficit, your body will choose where it will get rid of the fat. And that is genetically given. Some people naturally hold fat in their lower body – legs, and butt, and some hold fat primarily in the abdominals, hips or arms, and face. Usually, when a person says some part of their body is “problematic”, it is most probably the part from which the body takes the fat as last.

That is why some people can have abs even with a higher fat percentage (because they hold fat for example in their lower body) and others won’t have abs unless they lose every gram of fat (because the last fat their body holds is in the abdominals). And as we don’t choose where we gain fat if we are in a caloric surplus, we cannot choose where we lose it.

Of course, with exercising you build muscle. But if you want to have six-pack abs and you only do crunches and think that that will help, it won’t (I am sorry that I have to break it to you). If you don’t have exceptionally good genetics, you will have to be at a pretty low body fat percentage to be able to have abs and that can be achieved only through a calorie deficit. Building muscle will surely make the whole process easier and also, the more muscle you have, the more likely it is that it will be visible even with a higher fat percentage but it won’t surely help you to burn fat from your arms.

Think for yourself…

If you are not sure about anything I wrote here, you are more than welcomed to make your own research and then tell me if I am wrong. But I wanted to make this article because myths like that are making the whole process of getting to your goal more difficult and sometimes it just gives a false narrative which only leads to disappointment. Also, there is so much bullshit on the internet, sometimes people get confused about what to do and in the end, they do nothing. And that is a pity, don’t you think?

[1] Katch F I , (1984). Effects of sit-up exercise on adipose cell size and adiposity. Res Q Exercise Sport, 55: 242