10 Fitness Myths Unmasked
By Joe Wilkes
From the Million Dollar Body Club - Join Today and Workout to
Can you turn fat into muscle? Is the morning the best time to
exercise? Will you get cramps if you drink too much water when you exercise?
Can those ab machines on TV get rid of your pot belly? Spend time surfing the
Internet for fitness information and, pretty soon, your head will explode from
reading all the contradictions and misinformation about the best strategies to
get fit. Here are some of the more popular myths and old wives' tales that have
been propagated over the years.
- You can turn fat
into muscle. This is completely false. Muscle and fat are
two entirely different substances. Muscle is a fibrous, contractible tissue
that can only be built through exercisevia a break-down-and-rebuild
process. Fat is adipose tissue that can be converted into energy in the service
of building muscle, but the tissue itself can't be transformed into muscle
tissue. So if you are an out-of-shape 200 pounds, you're not going to look like
a young Schwarzenegger just by lifting weights. You'll have to do a lot of
Jam®-style cardio to burn the fat off before anyone can see how ripped
you've gotten. Which leads us to . . .
can turn a pot belly into a six-pack just by doing crunches.
Any insomniac has seen those late-night commercials that
guarantee miracles with rollers, chairs, crunchers, and various other
contraptions. They all promise a Brad Pitt six-pack in just minutes a day. But
if you're starting with a Homer Simpson beer gut, it's going to take more than
rocking back and forth a few minutes in a modified lawn chair every day to see
any results. No matter how steely your ab muscles are, if they're covered in
inches of fat, no one is going to be able to appreciate them. That's why
Hop Abs combine a healthy amount of cardio with the ab work. You can
read more on this in "Getting to
the Core of Your Ab Routine." If you don't burn the fat, you'll never see
- You can lose
weight just by dieting. This is technically true. If you
don't eat or eat less, you will lose weightinitially. But you will
plateau quickly, and your body will readjust its metabolism to survive on fewer
calories, making it even more difficult to lose weight. If you really want to
move the needle on the bathroom scale in a meaningful way, it's going to take
diet and exercise. Even light to moderate levels of exercise on a regular basis
help a lot. Physical activity not only burns calories, it also helps build
muscle and increase your metabolism, both of which turn your body into a more
efficient calorie-burning machine, even while at rest. Plus, there are numerous
other health benefits, from cardiovascular improvement to mood elevation. And
in-shape people look a lot hotter than sallow, starved people do.
- If you
don't exercise every day, you might as well not exercise at all.
This comes from the same flawed, excuse-driven logic
dieters use when they decide that because they cheated at lunch, they might as
well order a pizza for dinner. While some form of daily exercise is ideal,
studies have shown tremendous benefits even with as little exercise as a
30-minute brisk walk three times a week. Even if you fall off the wagon, put in
that Beachbody video or walk around the block a few times. Before too long,
you'll be craving exercise more than that burrito you thought you
- No pain, no gain. This is a popular one
uttered by almost every high school gym teacher and coach that I've ever met.
And it's not only utterly wrong, it's potentially dangerous. This may seem
obvious, but when you feel physical pain, it's your body's way of telling you,
"Hey, you're hurting me!" And instead of trying to push through the pain, you
should take a step back and see what kind of damage you're doing to your body.
It's natural to feel fatigue during and after a workout, but if you're feeling
actual physical pain, you're doing something wrong, and you could potentially
permanently damage yourself. Maybe it would be better to say, "No exercise, no
gain." But exercise and pain should never go hand in hand.
- More sweat, more
weight loss. Most good workouts will make you sweat, but
the amount you sweat isn't necessarily the test of a good workout. Everyone
sweats differently. And all sweat does is cool your body off with water (see
Thing" for more on perspiring). What you get from sweating isn't fat
dripping off your body. If it were, you'd be leaving a big oil stain on the
floor after you worked out. Sweating just causes you to lose water weight. It's
the activity itself that causes your body to burn stored fat for
- Drinking water during
exercise can cause cramping. In fact, the opposite is
true. You're much more likely to cramp if you're underhydrated, so for the best
results when exercising, it's a good idea to drink water before you start your
workout so you're beginning your workout with a full tank. As you work out, you
should keep a bottle of water handy, particularly if it's a long or especially
rigorous workout. After working out, you should treat your body to a big glass
of water to replenish your fluids, and if you've been extra good, maybe some
Peak Recovery Formula for maximum replenishment.
- The best time to
exercise is in the morning. A lot of people find that they
prefer getting their workout out of the way first thing in the morning, and
often feel that it gives them an energy boost for the rest of the day. But a
good workout any time of day is just as good for you, although you may not get
the best results if you're overly tired. So if you're someone who likes to burn
the midnight oil, you can burn fat just as effectively then as you can at
weights will create bulky muscles. This is a half-truth.
Lifting heavy weights can create large, bulky muscles, but lifting
light weights will self-regulate their ability to grow and, therefore, will
create a leaner look. So if you want the Vin Diesel look, with your guns
pumped, you can lift heavier weights with fewer reps. But if you want a more
slender look (for example, many women don't believe that Vin Diesel's arms
perfectly accessorize a Chanel cocktail dress), you can do more reps with
lighter weights or
bands to get that slender, toned "swimmer's" build. And speaking of
swimming . . .
- Swimming is effective for weight loss. This is another half-truth. Swimming is great for building lean
muscle and increasing cardiovascular endurance, which do lead to weight loss.
But because the water supports so much of your body weight, swimming has been
found to be less effective than land-based aerobic activity for weight loss,
since the effort it takes to haul your carcass around does a lot more for fat
burning. Swimming's still a great thing to add to your fitness regimen though.
Having a variety of exercises, like
in 6® and
90®, will decrease your boredom and increase your overall