Exercise Myths Busted – Part 1
There are lots and lots of exercise myths. It’s funny that so many gym
rats are such a superstitious bunch. And some myths go on and on
without being challenged. In this article, I’ll address 3 popular myths.
Exercise Myth #1 - Ab exercises give you a six-pack
Our skeleton is covered by muscle, which is covered by subcutaneous fat,
which is covered with the skin. For most of us, that six-pack is covered by
a layer of subcutaneous fat and you are not going to see that six-pack by
doing more crunches.
Yes, it takes exercise to build the abs. But, if
that’s all you do, your efforts may never see the
light of day.
Once you build some abdominal muscle, the only
way that six-pack is going to be seen is if you are
also extremely lean. Getting that lean is hard
enough for men and even harder for women who
genetically carry a little more cushion on those
So, if you’ve been doing crunches until you can’t
see straight and those six-pack abs are still not
popping – consider that they are hiding behind a
layer of fat.
However, don’t forget that some fat is a good thing. A very healthy goal
for men is 12% body fat. But, you may not see that six-pack until you get
below 10% which is pushing the limits of your healthy weight range.
Consider that getting those six-pack abs to show may actually be
detrimental to your overall health. Maybe there is nothing wrong with
having a strong core hiding under a 1/16 inch layer of healthy tissue.
Hummm... there's a little unconventional health thinking for you.
Exercise Myth #2 - No Pain, No Gain
This myth is especially untrue if you are a beginner. As you begin a new
exercise routine, it takes some time to develop a little general conditioning.
For example, if you are beginning a weight training program, it takes a few
months to develop the tendons and ligaments to support heavy lifting.
Most of your soreness after your first few sessions will likely be tendon
related. If you push for the maximum burn during this phase, you will
greatly increase the chances of an injury.
As a more advanced weight trainer, you definitely need to give an all out
effort each time you lift. The gains get harder and harder to come by and
without maximum intensity, you will quickly hit a plateau.
However, the short term burn is not the problem with this myth. It’s the
idea that you have to “work through the pain”. (No pain -no gain)
For example, when I work out I do 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps. A week ago I
had finished my first set of exercises and I felt a pull in the front of my
right shoulder. Half way through my second set, I stopped at 4 reps.
I felt like the potential for an injury was too high. I really wanted to finish
that second set but I decided it was better to stop short than to be out of
operation for several weeks.
In retrospect, it was a good decision. The pain was gone in 2 days and I
completed a full workout yesterday with no problems.
The bottom line is to use a little common sense. Forget the macho stuff
and do what will move you toward your goal. Admit when an injury needs
to be addressed and forget the “no pain-go gain”. It’s just a saying.
Exercise Myth #3 – Lots Of Cardio Is Good For You
Don’t get me wrong – a good cardio work out once a week for 20 to 30
minutes is good for you. But if you think you need 30 to 60 minutes every
day – think again.
While a good cardio workout is great exercise, don’t forget that it also
creates a lot of systemic inflammation. Your body was never designed to
do that kind of work day after day. And, the inflammation that it causes
does tremendous internal damage.
If you think that your conditioning will suffer if you don’t do a strenuous
cardio workout at least every other day, I have a challenge for you. Pick
your favorite endurance exercise and measure how well you do today.
Then, take a week off of your cardio routine and do a cardio workout only
once per week for 2 months.
Then, re-test yourself. If you do not at least match your previous best,
consider me to be all wet. Otherwise, if you actually improve your
performance, drop me a thank you note. I think you will be surprised.
Finally, lets address those who do daily cardio for the sake of losing
weight. That is a valid approach to a great goal. The way to do this type
of activity is to be sure that it’s a low intensity workout.
Keep your pulse below 120 or 130. If your pulse gets above 130, back off
a little. This gentle pace will give you 90% of the benefits and help you
avoid the “over-training” syndrome.
Finally, be sure to take your daily antioxidants and guard against systemic
inflammation. Vitamins C and A are a good start for your antioxidants.
I also recommend ALA to help recycle the C and A.
And, I recommend NAC to boost your intracellular glutathione. The last
recommendation is to take several capsules daily of enteric coated fish oils
to knock down the systemic inflammation which can generate a whole
cascade of internal issues.
Exercise Myths Busted
That’s it for this article. I plan to do several other articles on this same
topic sometime soon. The number of myths floating around seem to be
endless. Stop back soon for another common sense update.
(Note: ALA is a sulfur compound and it will make you urine smell like a
skunk. But, if you don’t mind that little inconvenience, it’s worth it’s
weight in gold!)
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