Gym popularity has been growing at a steady rate in recent times. Many go to improve their physique, some to increase athletic performance and others just to keep their bodies healthy.
With modern cultural pressures, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype. Seeing others with attractive beach bodies beckon us to head down the gym and sweat it out. Yet, if we are not careful, hitting the gym purely for aesthetic reasons can be detrimental to our health.
Re-evaluate why you are going to the gym in the first place. You want to look and feel healthier right? You certainly don’t want to end up worse off in both departments!
These dangers occur by following bogus fitness myths, depriving you of the health benefits of going to the gym. So let’s debunk the most common ones, setting you on the right path to reach your fitness goals!
1. You Can’t Target or Localize Fat Loss
The body is genetically predisposed to store more fat in certain areas. For many, it clings around the midsection and stomach area, giving us an unsightly belly and “love handles”. For others, it’s the buttocks and legs or even shoulders and arms.
Unfortunately, these areas of stubborn fat are exactly that, they are the first place to gain and the last to lose it. Many of us have also been fooled into believing we can target fat loss. But sadly, there are no fancy exercises that can override your body’s genetics.
The best approach is to focus on reducing your overall body fat, using full-body exercise routines and a healthy weight loss diet. You’ve got to be patient, these afflicted areas are often the last to leave!
2. You Can’t Crunch Your Way to a 6-Pack
Performing hundreds of crunches is not going suddenly reveal a glorious 6-pack! In fact, it’s more likely to cause spine and neck problems since this exercise is often performed incorrectly.
Crunches are never going to burn stomach fat. Unless your stomach is already flat, the first step would be to reduce your overall body fat.
When you are ready to build washboard abs, use static hold exercises such as planks and bridges. They engage a larger portion of the abs and core, training the muscles more naturally through stabilization.
Used in conjunction with a reputable full-body workout routine, you can build a mighty 6-pack and improve your posture without injuring yourself!
3. You Shouldn’t Ever Focus Purely on Size
For those lacking chest definition, focusing primarily on chest exercises may seem like a good idea. After all, a large chest will improve your physique and even improve the respiratory system.
However, tunnel vision can soon lead to a detrimental muscle imbalance. Without back exercises to compensate, you could end up with rounded shoulders, chest pains and even breathing problems. Worse yet, you could end up looking too far out of proportion!
Always focus on building a well-rounded physique, only adding a little emphasis on lacking areas. Training purely for muscle size can be a recipe for disaster. Be sure to mix up your training by pushing for strength and endurance too.
4. Lifting Weights Doesn’t Nessarilarly Build Bulky Muscles
This is often a misconception among many female gym goers, who cling to their favorite cardio machines. Yet, lifting heavy weights does not cause explosive muscle growth, for men and especially not for women!
In truth, large muscles are simply not grown by accident. It requires consistent progression in weight, coupled with caloric surplus diet to support muscle growth. Many men struggle to achieve this balance even when they are trying.
Genetically, it’s far more difficult for women to build bulky muscles.
Since their natural testosterone levels are far lower, adding muscle mass is challenging.
Now you can enter the weight room without the fear of turning into the She-Hulk anytime soon!
5. Pain is Not Proportional to Gains
The key to making physical progress in the gym is to push your limits over time. It’s going to be tough, you’re going to sweat and feel uncomfortably sore at times. Yet, you should never feel pain during any exercise!
Pain is an indicator of an injury, pushing through is almost certainly going to make it worse. Even lifting to failure should be used sparingly since it is very taxing on the body. Muscle soreness post workout may come and go, especially if you’re new to an exercise. But don’t ever assume your workout is worthless without it.
Aim to work harder and push further week-by-week, but do so in a slow, progressive and safe manner. If you feel pain during an exercise, you need to back off and let yourself recover. Otherwise, it could take you out of the game completely.
6. More Gym Time is Not Always Better
Always remember, your body only has a certain capacity for recovery and growth. Pushing beyond the boundaries will only affect your recovery and stall your progress. You need to workout hard strain your muscles, then allow them enough time to recover and regrow stronger.
Rather than spending hours in the gym, focus on intense 45min to 1-hour gym sessions. Otherwise, you are either not using your time effectively or are training too hard. When it comes to frequency, 3 gym sessions per week with a day between for recovery is ideal for most.
Unless you’re an advanced lifter who is using specialist routines, it’s not wise to hit the gym more than 5 times per week!