Health and Exercise: Misconceptions and Myths Saturday, February 18, 2012 By Matt Randolph
Feel the warm sweat dripping down your face, and its salty taste as it drips onto your lower lip. You are on your final repetition... or was there one more? Still feeling good, you push for another one. Your arms start to shake... can you finish strong? Three seconds. Two seconds. One... and down. You drop the dumbbells to the floor and wipe your brow with the palm of your hand. Then you take a sip of water, and it’s time to pick them back up and do it all over again. Weight training and cardiovascular training, or cardio, is an important part of fitness and health. Unfortunately, there are numerous myths and misconceptions floating around that are making some workouts not as efficient as they could be. Many of these things are especially prevalent in the Proctor student body. Here are some dispelled myths. As long as I go to the gym 30-45 minutes, I can do whatever I want the rest of the day, and I will still get a beach body. Fitness is a way of life. In order to stay fit, you have to both exercise and eat right. No McDonalds or potato chips right after you work out. I can spot train that six-pack (or biceps, or glutes, or whatever). You cannot spot reduce fat by doing a ton of sit-ups, or curls, or squats, or (insert exercise here). You can train specific muscle groups so that when you burn off fat it will look toned, but you burn fat from your entire body for any workout. I should eat only fresh fruits and avoid frozen ones. Many “fresh fruits” may sit up to two weeks at a factory before it gets to the store, including shipping time and stock time. By contrast, frozen fruits are picked and frozen at their ideal ripeness, Girls should avoid strength training, because it will make them bulk up. “Bulking up” is caused by testosterone, and women do not have enough of it in their bodies to cause them to get big and bulky like men. They only have enough to get a toned look. Strength training burns far more calories than cardio, because even a slight increase of muscle mass burns more than equivalent fat reserves. I should always do three sets of 8-12 repetitions. This is a medium amount of work for your muscles, neither high tension nor high endurance. If you want to increase muscle growth, do fewer repetitions with a higher weight. If you want longer tension time, decrease weight and increase repetitions. But don’t get stuck in a rut! Keep cycling through weights and number of reps. I should stretch before I warm up, to loosen my muscles. Stretching before you warm up is terrible for your muscles. Because your muscles are tight, pulling on them (which is essentially what stretching is) puts heavy strain on them, and gives them a greater chance of tearing or sustaining injury during your workout. Stretch after your warm up, when they stretch more easily. The butterfly stretch is the best stretch for my limbs. Don’t do the butterfly stretch at all! It does do a great job stretching many muscle groups, but it also stretches your tendons. You want your tendons as tight as possible. Do other stretches instead. Running on a treadmill puts less stress on your legs than running on asphalt or pavement. The impact of your body weight is the real culprit here. The only way to decrease the stress level is to do a lower-stress, high-resistance workout, such as running on sand, using an elliptical, or swimming. I need to lift everyday, otherwise I will lose my muscle mass. Your body needs time in between training to repair itself. The way muscles grow is like this: when you lift, minute tears form in your muscle fibers. During times of rest, proteins and carbohydrates cluster near those tears, both repairing the tear and making nearby fibers thicker and more powerful. If you don’t allow your body the time to repair itself, then the entire workout has been wasted, as you tear the muscle further. Devote at least thirty-six full hours between workouts; more if you still feel terribly sore. In order to get (or stay) fit, I have to have marathon workout sessions. Working out for 4 or 6 hours (or more!) is not healthy for your body. The human body is designed to take stress over a limited period and then repair itself. If you stress your muscles over longer periods, it makes your system scramble to repair itself. This is not maximum growth. But if you’re not going to work out everyday, there’s no point either. Not true! Any amount of exercise is better than none. Every little bit counts, even as little as one hour each week.