There are always inaccuracies and myths that surface as we develop our understanding of the human body and how our bodies react when acted upon. Health and fitness are among those fields with best practices that are constantly changing as our knowledge increases. This is Part Two of our series on common workout myths. Part One covered myths and misunderstandings about rest days and cardio training.
Incorrect. Our bodies are extremely efficient. They are designed for our most common activities, such as walking, running, standing, and sitting. When you walk, you do not lean forward. You stand tall and move your legs forward. Crunches, unfortunately, work your abdominal muscles in the opposite direction. They require that you bend and pull your legs up and toward your body, while your body is creating tension that bends you at the waist. That means you are working against your naturally efficient design to try and get those six pack abs. Instead, you need to engage in exercises that embrace your straight body while working your abs in the correct direction.
An example is forward lunges. If you raise both arms overhead, you’ll still be isolating the abdominal muscles. Then take a large step forward to exaggerate the walking movement. Another example is inchworm walkouts or pikes. With your hands on the floor and legs on a stability ball, use your hands to walk your body until you are in a plank position. Then walk your hands underneath you toward your feet. For example, check out this YouTube video tutorial. Both of these exercises lengthen the abdominal muscles while keeping them under tension. Many pilates movements can also be useful when trying to strengthen abdominals.
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This one is false, too. Muscle definition occurs when larger muscle fibers, also called Type II muscles, are being activated. What most people don’t understand is that this is a two-step process. First, the smaller muscle fibers need to be fatigued before the larger muscle fibers will be activated. Second, the larger muscle fibers need heavy resistance. So, do your reps, but be sure to hit that moment of fatigue where you feel like you can’t do one more rep. This means you have worked your smaller muscles, also called Type I muscles. You are now engaging your larger muscle fibers. If you feel like you can do one more rep, you aren’t engagingand shaping those larger muscles. This means you have a choice. You can do 25 reps with lighter weights, or seven reps with heavier weights. Larger muscles need heavier weights, or heavy resistance, to get their sexy shape. And in order to be activated, they need those smaller, Type I muscles to be fatigued.
These are just two more of the most common fitness and workout myths. If you missed Part One, head to THIS article to catch up on the two biggest myths, and how to integrate better strategies into your workout. Watch for Part Three where we’ll cover one of the most misunderstood topics, HIIT workouts. We’ll cover what they’re for, why we use them, and when we don’t use them.