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Exercise Myths: Are You Buying In?

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Have you read the article Lose 10 pounds in 1 minute or How to build buns of steel in 30 seconds or less? Ok, that’s an exaggeration. But really, why do we believe these crazy “expert” approaches to exercise? The more time I spend treating patients, the more I grow tired of hearing exercise myths that have been accepted as fact. Here are my top 5 exercise myths that need debunking.

1) No pain, no gain
This myth should be refuted in an article all by itself. Let’s get one thing straight, a muscle “burn” should not be considered pain and it is actually encouraged. However, there is a huge difference between a challenging workout and a painful one. If you are pushing through pain to maximize your workouts, don’t! The actual pain response is there for your protection and to prevent bodily injury. Listen to your body. If you are exercising through pain, you are causing more harm without any benefit.

2) Cardio is all you need to lose weight
While it’s true that cardio exercise such as running or biking will help you lose weight, it is more beneficial when integrated with some form of resistance training. In fact, if all you are doing is cardio, you are losing more weight from muscle than fat, which isn’t a good thing. Adding even a small amount of resistance training to your workout will actually elevate your metabolism for several hours. Consequently, this increase will allow for more of the fat burn that we all want.

3) Machines are equivalent to free weights
Yes, machines can build strength. To say they are just as good as free weights or body weight exercise is simply not true. Using machines actually limits you to using just a few muscles in isolation. Our muscles and joints rarely ever move this way. It is actually more beneficial to perform exercises that force you to use several muscle groups at a time. Performing exercises such as lunges while carrying dumbbells will challenge many of your muscles and can help prevent imbalances that you may be susceptible to if you solely perform exercises using machines.

4) Resistance training will make me bulky
Let’s be honest, most guys are trying to validate this statement. With the right exercise approach, a bulky look is indeed possible. However, when I hear this statement, it is always coming from women who shy away from lifting weights in fear of looking too buff. Ladies, I give you permission to lift weights. For most women, testosterone levels are simply not high enough to get anywhere close to being bulky even with lifting heavy weights. Performing resistance exercises using weights will allow you will tone up your muscles, increase your strength, and burn fat without having to worry about beefing up.

5) 3 sets of 10 is best
Let’s start with this: there is no magic number of reps and sets. It all boils down to how your own body responds to exercise and what your goals are. If you are trying to build muscle strength, focus on more sets with less reps and a heavier weight. For muscular endurance adjust for less weight, less sets, and more reps. Rest time between sets can also make a difference in what you are training for: more time for strength and less for endurance.

*Special thanks to Ross Eason, SPT, for his contributions.

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Nick Cart's picture

Comment here on other exercise myths that you have heard!