Four Fitness Myths – Busted!
Whether your goal is to look like an iron man or simply (and more realistically) to shape up and improve your health, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions that can get in your way. Here, we separate fact from fiction to help you get the best results.
MYTH: Crunches will get rid of my spare tire.
REALITY: Everyone stores extra weight differently, but the gut is one of the most common problem areas for men. Even if you do a gazillion stomach crunches and sit-ups, you won’t burn enough calories to lose fat around your middle and see the muscles you’ve built up underneath. To get flatter, more defined abs, you need to cut calories and add more overall exercise. Stick to a low-fat diet of lean protein and healthy carbs while doing a combination of cardio and strength-training. But keep in mind that you still need to do some stomach exercises.
MYTH: The fastest way to build muscle is to do more reps with lighter weights.
REALITY: If you’re looking to bulk up quickly, follow this general rule: Heavier resistance with fewer reps will build up your muscles faster. If you’re just looking to shape up, however, doing more reps with lighter weights has benefits too, including improving your muscular endurance. (“Heavy” weights are those you can use for only eight reps or fewer. “Light” weights enable you to do 12 to 20 reps.) the best fitness plan includes a combination of both, to enhance strength and endurance. Another reason to do both: If you always lift the same amount of weight (light or heavy) for the same number of repetitions, your body will acclimate, and process will be slow or nonexistent.
MYTH: Real men don’t take yoga classes.
REALITY: Boredom is one of the reasons people stop exercising, and yet most men are resistant to taking classes at a gym – despite the fact that they are one of the best ways to stay psyched and active. The benefits are not just psychological: When you do the same exercises all the time, your muscles adjust, and you hit a plateau. Changing things up will challenge your muscles and make them stronger. The social interaction also keeps many people from giving up or dropping out. And for those of you who think yoga class if just for long-limbed women who can twist themselves into pretzels, think again. Even one yoga class a week can help you remain limber, reduce stress, and prevent injury. (Need proof? Many pro athletes have taken it up.)
MYTH: Working out hard on weekends will keep me in shape.
REALITY: Being a weekend warrior may sound like a good plan for those of you too busy to get to the gym during the week, but the idea that you can pound your body for hours to make up for a week’s worth of inactivity is faulty. It’s also one of the leading causes of injury. Whether it’s with a game of pickup basketball or a too-long run, overexerting yourself on the weekend to compensate for the rest of the week is both ineffective and risky. You will not train your muscles, heart, or lungs effectively, and the soreness that results may keep you from being able to get off the couch for days. To really get in shape, consistency is key, even if that means just a 30-minute workout most days of the week.
By Michael O’Shea, Parade Magazine
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Last Updated on Thursday, 02 February 2012 03:03