Fitness and Workout Myths that are Slowing Down Women

36 Fitness and Workout Myths that are Slowing Down Women

Table of Contents

Fitness and Workout Myths: Introduction

Keen to separate fact from fiction when it comes to fitness and workout myths? Then you have to read what follows to separate the truth from the lies when it comes to fitness and working out for women. A fitness journey can be a rough ride if you step in without mapping the groundwork. Check out these fitness and workout myths before you hit the gym– it could make a big difference to the outcome you attain.

Myth#1: Heavy People are Fat

When you commence with weight training, gaining weight is natural. Why is this so? Quite simply because there is stimulation of the body to create lean muscles for boosting the metabolic rate. These muscles are also filled with water, so inflammation from weight training causes water retention. Some weeks of weight training may be followed by initial weight gain. However, don’t panic because these are simply your new muscles which will help your body look lean and toned. When clothes fit looser, you may weigh more because muscle is dense but it takes up less area as against fat in the body. Small, muscular persons may, therefore, weigh more than larger people with greater body fat.

Myth#2 Veggies Don’t Help in Muscle Building

For building the muscles, you need constant exercise, regulated calorific intake and a steady flow of nutrients for muscles to recover and grow. This is where veggies come in. Filled with complex carbs that are slow to digest, these are nutritional powerhouses with lesser calories. Enough veggies in combination with proteins can help you to gain muscles. Overeating is not a good idea, and you are loading up on fats to build muscles. With veggies, the plus point is you feel full and also lose out on unwanted weight gain. Without adequate calories, muscle building will be negatively impacted. So make sure you get enough nuts, dairy items and soy protein for a healthy body.

Myth #3 Women Cannot Build Muscles, They can Only Tone them

Women Cannot Build Muscles, They can Only Tone them
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This is one of the biggest myths perpetuated by those with a lack of knowledge. The truth is that men and women build muscle in the same manner and toning and building involve the same process: hypertrophy. This is when muscles are stained by causing the fibers to grow larger. Resistance training stimulates the muscles. Men grow more muscles with a greater amount of testosterone, but that is the only difference. Reps for muscle growth range from 8-12. The whole point of a workout is to exert your body and add weight to your muscle store.

Myth#4 Long Breaks Will Cause Muscles To Become Fat

Muscles are created by increasing the exposure of the body to movement and growth through a workout. Muscle does not literally change into fat. However, it does slow down muscle growth with a slower metabolism. Accumulation of more fat causes muscle size to shrink.

Myth#5 You Cannot Be Ripped Throughout the Year

Ripped bodies are toned and you might have a hard time staying there if you do not exercise. Women have a higher amount of body fat and this is why they are susceptible to muscle loss. Strategies are needed to replace what the body lacks. Carbs are the fuel for a challenging workout. All you need is discipline.

Myth#6 Carbs Are Bad For A Workout

If you want a muscled, lean and toned look, you need carbs. Burn more body fat during training by using carbs to fuel a challenging workout. Choose a diet plan based on your goals. Make sure you load up on protein if you have to ensure that your stamina does not falter. Small amounts of carbs are also needed to ensure brain functions optimally. The brain needs blood sugar to work. The body can be ketonic and turn from fatty acids to muscles, but the brain lacks this capacity.

Myth#7 Weight Training Can Make You Manly

If women lack muscles, it can be a major downer. We all have different body structures. Women may be straight or curvy depending on genetic factors. But the body image cannot make you less feminine. Attractiveness is subjective. Athletic women have a more than average basis of muscle mass associated with body mass. If you regulate diet along with exercise, weight training will not impact you in that way. Women often see pictures of female bodybuilders and assume this is the outcome of weight lifting.

But it is important to remember that the muscles you are looking at are the result of years of intense training in a gym. Bodybuilding and muscle growth only occur with rigorous training, strict diet and a motivation to follow a certain path. Thinking that cardio is the only way to lose weight is wrong. Strength training is ideal for building a fit, healthy physique. On average, women have 30 percent less muscle fiber to develop as compared to men. So, to get bulky, women have to put on more effort. Another important point is that the training effect can be reversed if required.

Note that the muscular body build you see in lady bodybuilders is the result of years of strict dieting and vigorous training. Women bodybuilders eat, train and take supplements so that they appear a certain way. They've been working together towards the goal for years at an end.

When you pick up heavy items, remember that while muscles get strong, they do not become big unless you are pumping testosterone levels and eating more calories in a day. However, for those eating a low-calorie diet, and weight lifting, the end result will be stronger denser muscles. Women who opt for strength training also burn fat besides getting a toned look and strengthening muscles.

Myth#8: Train Hard and Use Fat Burners

For burning fat, calories have to be expended at a rate faster than the body. Heart rate rises with fat burners but this only aids in performance. Fat burners cannot make you thin.

Myth#9: Lose Fat By Avoiding Fat

Fats are needed to establish a healthy hormone level and check vitamins. Opt for muscle growth only if your body has healthy fats. Fat also helps to satiate the appetite and a carb cum protein diet will not work.

Myth#10 Don’t Work The Upper Body

Don’t Work The Upper Body
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For a symmetrical look and to improve bone health, one should train the upper body. Women should be clear that the body will not benefit from the workout if upper body training is not carried out.

Myth#11 Only Do Cardio To Lose Weight

If weight loss is the goal, cardio alone will not work. Weight training may not burn excess calories, but the greater the lean mass there is, the higher the rate of calorific expenditure will be and muscles require fuel all the time. This balances weight and ensures the loss of fatty accumulations on the body.

Myth#12 Metabolic Rate Slows Down After 30, So Don’t Work Out

The reason the metabolic rate lessens is due to lower levels of hormone and fewer workouts. At any age, if you don’t work out yet eat healthy food, you’ll be out of shape. Untrained bodies are more apparent as age progresses.

Myth#13 Women Cannot Gain Muscle After 50

This is wrong. The fact is that you can build muscle at any age. Challenge your muscles and ensure they get proper nutrients and your body will react. Building muscles may be tougher as age advances, but it is possible.

Myth#14 Do Stomach Crunches to Get a 6 Pack

Flat bellies don’t come from just stomach crunches alone. You need to be lean and if you eat too much, abs will be trapped below the body fat layer. Ab muscles are there for everyone- fat loss is essential to make the weight lessen and improve the toned look.

Myth#15 Max Heart Rate Matters

Max Heart Rate Matters
Photo by: Stephanie Young Merzel/ CC BY

Everyone's maxed heart rate goes down with age. But research indicates that it lowers more slowly in women. More accurate heart rate estimations are needed. Calculations for heart rate need to take into account that present formulae overestimate the peak heart rate reached by women at an earlier age and vice versa.

Myth#16 You Peak in the Twenties

Studies have estimated that sprinters peak at their 20s but marathon runners can race well into the 40s. So, the fitness myth perpetuated that old age is a deterrent for effective workouts stands busted.

Myth#17 Running Destroys the Knees

Repetitive pounding is said to be the reason runner’s knees get impacted. This is because when the foot strikes the ground, force 2-3 times the body weight goes through. Long distance running, however, actually exerts protection against joint degeneration. Runners take longer strides and have less contact with the ground. Strides are less in number though more impactful, meaning running and walking have the same impact on the knees.

Myth #18 Glucosamine Aids the Joints

Joints need glucosamine supplements– that is the biggest running and fitness myth. Research has found that glucosamine and its combination with chondroitin do not prevent osteoarthritis or protect the joint.

Myth#19 You Can Spot Reduce the Fat

Side bends and sit-ups will not magically trim your waistline. Nor can sit-ups remove belly fat. A big stomach or flabby arms cannot be eliminated by trying to spot fat reducing exercises. Posture, exercise, and diet are the only things needed for uniform weight loss and general toning of the body.

Performing 100s of side crunches is not the secret to making the waist trim. Remember that your body is genetically oriented to store fat in specific locations. When weight is lost overall, weight is lost in certain locations more than others and this is due to genetics. Weight loss may be seen in the thighs, the chest and then the belly. One may lose weight in an entirely different order, too. It all depends on genetics. But one can also isolate muscles or specific areas in a day. It is unlikely that drastic changes will be seen in such areas without overall body fat decrease.

Side bends strengthen the side muscles without reducing fat, potentially causing the waist to become bigger around the waist unless the diet is adjusted, too. Sit-ups do not remove belly fat, but also wreak havoc on the lower back and are an incomplete exercise. The body does not reduce fat in a specific location. If you have massive stomachs or flabby arms, performing curls and crunches won't help.

Remember that the body is genetically predisposed to store fat in specific locations in a certain order. When weight loss is triggered, the body will lose fat in a certain order only. No amount of targeted workouts will change where the fat disappears from, first. Strength training should, therefore, focus on big compound movements, not targeted exercises so that a lot of muscles are used. This forces the body to rebuild muscles, even after the completion of the workout.

Myth#20: You Just Do Cardio and You'll Lose Weight

Cardio is wonderful and it is required to have a healthy lifestyle. The heart is a muscle that needs to be worked on like any other. When it comes to weight loss, though, cardio singlehandedly cannot help in keeping the weight off. The reason for this is simple. Muscles burn extra calories than any other bodily tissues, meaning the more muscles one has, the faster the metabolism is.

When weights are lifted, one is actually breaking down muscles and the body deploys energy to repair these. Strength training helps in weight loss and transforming body composition, leading to tighter, firmer appearances. Strength training can also make one less prone to injury, as it improves balance and helps to protect the joints. This also builds stronger bones so the risk of osteoporosis is lowered and stamina/endurance is further built. Strength training yields a more effective weight loss impact than an equal amount of cardio.

When an individual trains with weights, muscles are broken down and rebuilt over the next 24 to 48 hours. When these muscles are being rebuilt by the body, it requires more energy and calories to speed up the process. This stimulates an afterburn effect. This means that the metabolism operates at a faster level, even when one is sitting on the couch post a workout.

From weight lifting to swinging kettlebells, performing yoga asanas or doing bodyweight exercises or even carrying kids on a hike, it is important to make sure your muscles are used in a strenuous way. While cardio exercises are a wonderful way to boost energy, it keeps cardiovascular systems in good shape, it does not stimulate weight loss by itself. Resistance training is more effective in boosting weight loss. You need to just change the total amount of time you spend working out or increase the weight, reps or tempo for better results.

Myth#21: Aerobic Exercises are The Most Effective Way to Burn Fat.

At the time of low-intensity physical activities, the primary macronutrient to fuel the workout is undoubtedly fat. So, the idea of creating a fat-burning zone by exercising is based on science. But when you're in the so-called fat-burning zone, it's important to remember that aerobic exercises don't lead to more fat burn than resistance training. Both can exert equal benefits. Conventional cardiovascular exercises like running, cycling or using health machines expend energy. So the body metabolizes the fat for low-intensity workouts. However, exercise at higher intensities or performing short, high-intensity workouts with intervals can lead to more calories being expended during the workout.

The body, further, burns five calories of energy for every liter of O2 breathed in. At the time of cardio or aerobic exercises, legs are the basic muscles engaged. Performing a full-body, strength training circuit with exercises for lower and upper bodies causes a tremendous amount of muscle tissue which results in additional calories being burnt during a workout. In cases where total calories are burnt from resistance training, a great number of calories are metabolized from fat. This is as against exercising for falling into what is referred to as the fat-burning zone.

Aerobic/cardio training is an effective way to burn calories. It does not offer enough stimulus to increase levels of lean muscles. These are metabolically burning calories at higher rates when the body is at rest. Circuit training using weights increases excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. This means the metabolic rate remains elevated for a time period and calories are burnt even hours post the workout.

Myth#22: Women Should Avoid Creatine

Some women still steer clear of creatine monohydrate. While there are numerous studies on how beneficial it can be, yet women still adhere to these myths. Creatine helps women to achieve resistance training goals. It also helps to increase the amount of work one can do in a gym. This leads to more calories burnt and depending on the diet, trigger a lot of fat loss.

Myth#23: Women Don't Need to Eat As Much Protein As Men

Women do not need to eat as much protein as men. But that is only because men and women have different calorific requirements. Women looking to lose fat should maintain high protein consumption rather high in comparison to overall calorie consumption. Having a high protein consumption while losing fat can preserve lean muscles while also inducing a feeling of satiation. For example, taking protein powder or whey supplements after a workout and eating a protein bar can help in meeting daily requirements. Drinking protein shakes post a workout session can help in faster recovery. Further, a protein bar is the perfect heavy protein snack to eat during the day.  Ideally, you need to consume 0.7 grams to 1.2 kgs per pound of bodyweight every day.

Myth#24: One Fitness Plan Suits Everyone

Remember that everyone is different. Generic fitness and nutrition plans available online do not work for everyone trying these out. Note that just because a plan suited someone else does not mean it should not suit you. The only way out is to try this for 4-6 weeks and track results. Bouncing around across programs does not give adequate time to adjust and showcase potential results.

Myth#25: Light Weights + Many Reps Are the Only Means of Burning Fat

While lightweights are wonderful for muscular endurance, using these is not the only way for burning fat. To create growth and boost muscle definition, the body has to activate fast twitch or Type 2 muscle fibers/ These are needed for explosive, powerful movements. Type 1 or slow twitch muscles are responsible for more endurance-based activities.

While lifting a 3-pound weight for 15-20 reps may help you to feel the burn, it is definitely not enough to create the stimulus for muscle growth. Lifting lighter weights is important, but if the end objective is muscle definition and fat loss, it needs to be only part of your routine. Unfortunately, in commercial gyms, trainers push male clients through heavy resistance training with squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and pull-ups as well as push-ups and lunges.

In the same situation, female clients are encouraged to follow lightweight dumbbell circuits, stability ball squats for more reps and tricep kickbacks, machine hamstring curls and more. This is not the right approach.

Myth #26: Just Eat Less to Lose Weight

A lot of fitness experts have debated this myth. If you want to lose weight, however, just eating less will not help you get there faster. In fact, the calorie deficit is the best way to make individuals feel fatigued, miserable, irritated and frustrated. Eating less can help in losing weight. But this is not the complete story. Surviving on less than 1200 calories is a big problem when it comes to energy levels.

In fact, the body needs real food to operate at optimal levels. Not all calories are created the same. Bodies react differently to proteins and healthy fats or veggies than processed foods, dairy, and grains. While some trigger positive reactions like rebuilding the muscles, others can trigger issues like more insulin spikes.

One needs to eat plenty of real food. So, women should never dip below 1800 calories, especially if they are regularly exercising. Each human body processes calories differently and the quality of food is equally important. As these calories are composed of the right types of food, the diet combines with workouts to get optimal results.

If one is trying to starve the body by eating a lower amount of calories, the focus will be to fight back. So, the body will actually end up storing fat.

Myth#27: Older Women Should Not Strength Train

Older women should also strength train. Research studies have shown that in post-menopausal ladies, resistance training preserves bone density while improving balance, strength, and muscle mass in postmenopausal women. Age is only a number. Women should not stop weight training when they get older.

Myth#28: Don't Eat After a Workout

Exercise exerts your joints, bones, and muscles. It also depletes stores of electrolytes, glycogen, and fluids. Post an intense workout, your body needs to repair the damaged tissue and build new tissues. The healing process post a workout is when your body gets stronger, so it is essential to help the process along by eating a snack in 15 to 60 minutes of the workout. This also gives the body the fuel it needs to restore levels of energy, recover faster and build muscles that boost metabolic rates. But do remember to regulate the snack as per the requirement. Pick a snack that is under 150 calories, and if you have been working for around an hour, opt for a snack with up to 20 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbs. Don't go in for high-calorie sports drinks. Try fruits like bananas instead. Bananas are known to be the ideal post-workout snack for a reason – they are rich in carbs and generate electrolytes or potassium lost through sweat. Greek yogurt is another great source of protein and carbs.

Myth#29: Don't Drink Water during a Workout as this Adds to Water Weight

While it's true that dieting leads to loss of water weight, water weight does not fluctuate with the amount of water drunk. The type of water weight looking like the excess weight is actually stored in the layer beneath the skin and water is the one beverage that flushes it out. Another thing that flushes out water weight is electrolytes like bananas.  Drinking water at the time of the workout is important for performance and helps to ward off dehydration, as water is lost through sweat and breath when one exercise. Water helps the blood to transport nutrients plus oxygen around the body, providing more workout energy. It is essential to drink 7-10 ounces of water for every 10-20 minutes of exercise, as well as before and post the workout.

Myth#30: You Need to Work Out Every Day

If individuals are committed to fitness goals and determined to reach it, working out every day may seem like a great idea. But it is not. In the case of working out, the more the better is not effective. Taking a break day per week improves results like weight loss and strength.

Myth#31: You Can Avoid the Post-Workout Stretch

Although studies have evolved mixed results about whether stretching before and once the workout is over decreases muscle soreness, there are a lot of other benefits to post-workout stretches. Your body remains warm post the workout, so stretching improves flexibility and boosts the joint's range of motion. Better flexibility improves performance in physical activities or decreases the chances of being injured. Another benefit of post-workout stretches is the psychological boost as you center yourself and tune in to bodily rhythms.

Myth#32: Stick to One Type of Workout for Better Results

While being diligent and consistent with working out can produce good results, doing the same workout, again and again, is monotonous for the body. Without spikes in intensity or variations in the workout, the body adapts and you end up reaching a weight plateau. So, whether you run or do yoga, reaching the plateau is something you need to avoid. Vary your workout routine, if you want to experience consistent weight loss.

Myth#33: The Longer the Workout, The More Beneficial It Is

It's not true that the longer you workout, the more results you will immediately experience. It all depends on the type of workout and what fitness goals you are following. For becoming stronger and leaner, you need to perform short HIIT workout when you reach 90 to 100 percent of max intensity to get there. If you've just started working out or you have led a sedentary lifestyle, or your goal is not to change your body weight, longer and moderate-intensity workouts like walking are a better fit. When it comes to workout myths, what is right given research and your bodily needs will change across time.

Myth#34: Eating a Low Carb Diet Is Best For Fat Loss

For accomplishing all the fitness goals, you need to be able to fuel your workouts. For cutting out carbs, you will face a lot of fatigue. Carbs have earned a negative reputation, but this is wrong. While other nutrients like protein must also be consumed, carbs are also vital for your health. Research has even shown weight loss is possible while consuming 70 percent of the calories from carbohydrates.  Many health experts and institutions even hold that 45 -65 percent of total calorie consumption needs to come from carbohydrates for those who train regularly, including cardio and weightlifting. To lead a healthy lifestyle, a majority of these carbs need to be from sources rich in minerals, fiber, and vitamin-like fruits, veggies and whole grains.

Myth#35: Women Should Not Lift Heavy Weights

Women often make the error of missing out on lean muscle mass by giving heavyweights a miss. While a woman's body produces less testosterone than men, what this really means is that resistance training can give you a lean without the bulky muscle men get. Strength training or resistance exercises also produce somatotropin or human growth hormone. The growth hormone can increase the metabolic rate at which fat is burnt and prevents the effects of biological aging from showing.

Myth#36: A Great Workout Program is Too Time-Consuming

When women hear it takes 45-60 minutes 5 days a week to achieve the body they want through a workout, it naturally serves as a deterrent. Achieving goals, however, does not take this long, though. Decreasing body fat and gaining lean muscles can be accomplished in 2-3 sessions per week. It is all about choosing the right workout. Focus on compound movements like squats, planks, pushups, and dead-lifts as these require intense energy and initiate fat burning.

 

Conclusion

You Can Spot Reduce the Fat
Photo By: CC Food Travel.Com/ CC BY

All sorts of fitness and workout myths are there from those saying training longer will not benefit you, or eating less will magically reduce weight. Diet is not a magic bullet for a fitter, healthier you. But it is an important part of your workout regimen. Similarly, exercise is the key to longevity only if it is consistent and regular, as well as correctly performed. A workout is effective if diet and exercise combine to create the perfect synergy. Time and again, research has proved age is just a number when it comes to fitness and workouts. Choose a comprehensive and holistic approach to workouts and fitness for a healthy body and a healthy mind and don’t let age or gender bar you from challenging yourself to get the best results.

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