As with all things human, we adjust our lives and habits according to what we know now. Best practices and scientifically driven decisions from centuries, decades, even a year ago, can change. Not to mention, there’s always the cost of misperception, misunderstanding, and the uneducated making recommendations. This is true in all fields, including health and fitness. Here are five workout myths we’re busting for those who want real results in their workouts.
Nope. Not even a little true. Everyone needs to give their body a break. All top athletes have rest days. Everyday athletes like you and me need this too. Exercise is basically causing damage the body needs to recover from. We are breaking down muscle to build newer, stronger tissue. We’re flushing toxins and straining joints to get there. The cycle of breaking down our bodies and letting them repair overnight only allows for so much recovery. When we create small tears in our tissue, particularly tendons and joint connective tissue, we’re adding to the damage each day because an overnight repair schedule just isn’t always enough. Taking a day for a longer, more meaningful recovery keeps us from developing compounding tears and tensions that turn into significant injuries. But rest days don’t always have to mean we don’t participate in any physical activity. We can enjoy low-intensity workouts that place stress on different parts of our body that aren’t worked during our regular workouts. Keep in mind that recovery only happens when we are rested, so whatever activity we choose, we need to let our body rest. This goes for sleep. If we aren’t getting enough REM cycles, our body won’t be able to enter repair mode. If you notice you aren’t getting sleep, reduce the intensity of your workouts, or add a rest day until you can get your sleep back on track. And you can time your rest days for the day after you know you will be out late. This will help minimize the time needed away from heavy workout days. Fatigue is one of the top causes of injuries.
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This is one of the biggest myths that need to be busted for most people. It is true that weight loss requires that you expend energy, but we now know that the real weight loss factor, particularly for those over 30 years of age, is the neuroendocrine system. This means our hormones need to be balanced and adequately regulated for weight loss to be a possibility. Hormones are chemicals that control the activity of our cells. Too much cortisol, which occurs when we get too much cardio, can end up converting protein into energy, instead of using our cortisol to repair damaged muscle tissue. This means we’re not only missing out on weight loss best practices, but we’re increasing the likelihood of injury. Strength training, on the other hand, is vital to weight loss. It burns excess calories and elevates our growth hormone, which helps us metabolize fat for fuel and promotes muscle growth. Plus, more muscle means more fat loss. This is because muscle is very metabolically active. So, one pound of muscle can burn 5-7 calories each day, while we are at rest. That means adding five pounds of muscle can increase our resting metabolism, and we can burn 200 more calories per week! That’s the equivalent to a two-mile run.
These two myths are big ones in the world of health and fitness, but we’ve got more for you. Check out Part Two of this series on workout myths next week!